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BrowneMusser Captures Heartbeat of Hospital’s Lifesaving Work

When Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Seoul, South Korea crash landed at the San Francisco International Airport July 6, 2014, the staff at what was then San Francisco General Hospital sprung into action.

While saving lives is an everyday occurrence at the hospital, the important role medical professionals play has not always been apparent to the public at large. Many are also unware that hospitals provide so much more than trauma care. Thanks to a campaign by San Francisco marketing and design firm BrowneMusser, that’s no longer the case.


In 2008, the voters of San Francisco passed a bond measure to build a new hospital. Then, in 2015, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Dr. Priscilla Chan made a generous donation to help furnish that new hospital with the latest medical technology. To recognize that significant gift, it was renamed the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. Hospital administrators felt that the change presented an excellent opportunity to promote the community hospital for the first time in its 150-year history. To get the word out, BrowneMusser had the winning prescription.

Capturing the Hospital’s Heart
One of the first tasks was updating the logo so that it would better reflect the hospital’s values, says BrowneMusser Creative Director Jeff Musser. The process required a ton of research. “We talked to almost everybody at the hospital. We talked to other stakeholders outside the hospital, we talked to city officials. We got a really good understanding of what the hospital does and what the hospital stands for.”

It became apparent to BrowneMusser that there were four pillars that served as the foundations of the hospital’s success:

  • An incredible spirit to help anyone who walked through the hospital’s doors
  • The intelligence of the medical staff, which is made up of top-notch professionals
  • A sense of heart, or compassion, as the staff works tirelessly to provide the best holistic care
  • A sense of radical inclusion, as San Francisco has a very diverse population that is totally embraced at the hospital.

All of those ideas were expressed in the logo. The old one featured the outline of a heart surrounding the hospital’s initials. When coming up with the new logo, they kept the heart but placed it on its side. As a result, “the heart now becomes more of a directional arrow,” Musser says. “It has a lot more energy.”

The logo also is much more colorful, encompassing the colors of the rainbow. Just as the gay pride rainbow flag is about accepting the differences in people, BrowneMusser wanted to emphasize inclusion, as well, as the hospital is a place of diverse people coming together for a common cause.


Ode to the Storyteller
Once they had the logo, BrowneMusser had to come up with an integrated outreach campaign that would be featured on such outlets as posters, outdoor billboards, television, the web, radio and newspapers. They decided to put storytelling at the heart of the campaign. “We wanted to make sure that anything we put out about the hospital was totally based on truth,” Musser says.

So they let the doctors and patients tell the story. One woman, Karla, who gave birth at the hospital, was so transformed by her hospital care that she now works at a prenatal clinic and helps to counsel moms-to-be about having the birthing experience that they want. Another story centers around that of Dr. Deborah Cohan, a cancer survivor who helps HIV-positive women give birth to HIV-free babies. The images of the patients and staff members helped the campaign to connect with its audience.

“Visually, even if you don’t read a word, you just see these people and you see in their eyes what they stand for,” Musser explains.

When deciding which stories and images to feature on which posters or digital banners, they looked at the target audience to gauge how ads might resonate most with them. If they were targeting a Latino audience, they might choose Karla’s story since she is Latina. And further, all campaign materials were created in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Also as part of the campaign, BrowneMusser worked on promotional items such as T-shirts, water bottles, wrist bands, apparel and ID badges. These were given out at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in November 2015 for the new acute care and trauma center. On the ribbon itself was the tagline, simply the word “Care,” and the logo.

It’s projects like these that Musser gets most excited about because the firm can help to bring much needed attention to an important cause. In a real sense everyone involved with the hospital’s mission is helping the world become a better place, he says. “The kind of work that these people do is actually a matter of life and death.”






Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

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