Looking out into the world of healthcare branding, what meets the eye is a sea of blue — and it’s easy to see why. Blue is a color that soothes the senses. It communicates comfort, patience, and serenity. It fits the bill for how many healthcare systems want to be perceived.
But as healthcare marketing professionals, it’s our job to help brands stand out from the blue-hued “sea of sameness.” While it feels like a safe bet, the sheer number of blue logos from competing health systems makes the color feel much more prescriptive and clinical than truly comforting.
At Core, we look at every touchpoint as a unique opportunity to shape a brand's identity, connect with its audience and help the brand stand out in new ways. Our recent work with ThedaCare is a great example of strategically creating a breakthrough visual approach for healthcare branding and advertising while staying true to the brand and its equity.
You don’t need to be creative to understand that color is more than just aesthetics; it's a powerful language that resonates with emotions and perceptions. By infusing ThedaCare campaigns and marketing materials with vibrant hues, we sought to evoke positivity, energy, and — above all — the promise of a healthier life, aligning with the system’s efforts to improve the health of its communities.
“Color served as a visual metaphor for how inspiration moves between individuals and through communities to enrich experiences and improve well-being.”Nick Krueger - Vice President of Creative Services
Brand equity exists in color
ThedaCare benefits from having a unique and memorable logo: a series of four overlapping, multicolored hearts centered around a white diamond shape. Early on in our partnership, we recognized the strength of this logomark and have continuously worked to elevate its significance, both by defining its components as foundational parts of the brand promise, and by leveraging its prismatic colors.
After working through Core’s brand discovery and definition process and several years of rigorous internal culture-building work, ThedaCare was ready to formally launch a new brand campaign, with a larger goal of reinventing health care for its community. In the Life Inspired brand platform we developed — and the campaigns and touch points that have stemmed from that platform — color served as a visual metaphor for how inspiration moves between individuals and through communities to enrich experiences and improve well-being.
A resilient visual strategy
As part of our unique say it. live it.® brand philosophy, we began with an internal launch campaign which helped educate ThedaCare teammates on the brand promise and platform. Inspired by the logomark, we used the full spectrum of the system’s color palette — and the logomark itself — paired with empowering internal messages. This created renewed excitement among ThedaCare's internal team around the brand visuals and laid the groundwork for what would later be shared with the community.
In the Inspired To campaign, we introduced the idea of inspiration to the community at large. To highlight ThedaCare teammates who personally and professionally aligned with the system’s values, we used black and white photography with colorful portraits in the foreground. Bright color bursts (created with the brand palette) emanated from the portraits, representing the inspiration that ThedaCare team members bring to their communities.
Most recently, in the What If I Told You campaign, we used color to represent the Life Inspired movement through bright and vibrant imagery. By slightly exaggerating the color’s saturation in the moments of everyday life, we made it feel natural in context while amplifying the joy and beauty of these moments — to make them look and feel inspiring and invigorating.
We also extended the idea to the Unstoppable campaign for the system’s orthopedic services. Using a colorful overlay we communicated ThedaCare’s empowering presence in the community and found a way to align unique service lines to fit the brand look and feel while remaining distinct.
In each of these campaigns, the imagery we selected depicts real people, vibrant communities, and active lifestyles, reinforcing the message that ThedaCare is there to support and uplift its community every step of the way. But what makes the color strategy so successful is that it’s true to the brand that individuals in the community already recognize. By understanding and elevating the brand’s legacy, we created something that feels authentic — yet also fresh and exciting. It's a beacon of hope and a clear differentiator in the realm of healthcare branding.
The power of thoughtful creative that builds on a brand’s equity cannot be underestimated. It's a fundamental tool in shaping perceptions and emotions — and in this case, it has helped extend a brand platform that exudes energy, optimism and commitment. Our team is proud to have woven this tapestry of ideas, positioning ThedaCare as a dynamic force for health and vitality in the communities it serves. Together, we're creating a healthier future for all.