The NHS is one of the most recognised brands in England and NHS Direct is the first health service in the world to be delivered via the Internet, interactive TV and the phone. The service provides patients with easy access 24 hour health advice and is now in its tenth year. The trouble is, not everyone knows what the service is actually there to provide. Our brief was to develop a completely new brand expression for NHS Direct, to clarify just how accessible the service is and what patients should expect from it. It was important that the work continued to position the service clearly within the NHS, although NHS Direct were also keen to express an identity which was very much their own.
During our initial strategic review it became clear that NHS Direct needed to express their 'omnipresence'. They needed to make it clear that the public could expect to access them anywhere and everywhere, whenever they might need them.
'We're here' became the articulation of this and we chose a humble balloon to carry the message and reinforce the NHS brand colour.
The idea was to create a stock of brand new photography that would give an instant snapshot of contemporary English life, through which this simple and apparently ubiquitous presence could silently float, carrying its simple message.
A simpler, clearer service message was added into the mix and these elements formed the basis of the communication campaign. Internal engagement is, as ever crucial to the success of a brand roll-out. The NHS Direct telephone service is delivered by advisers and nurses who care deeply about the callers to the helpline who are always referred to as 'patients'. After a decade of service, a renewed sense of pride
is key to the process along with a clear vision for the future.
As is often the case, the brand work has been conducted alongside a visioning process and the internal audience was the first and most important to be given consideration in the rollout. The new brand expression has already found its way onto most of NHS Direct's internal and external communication materials and it was officially launched internally in June 2008 with outdoor and press advertising following in July 2008.