Florida Blue Painting A New Identity
By Marilyn Bowden
While the rebranding of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida as Florida Blue on signage and the like is nearly complete, public awareness will probably take a few more years to catch up. But company officials think the change is necessary to reflect the changing role it will play in the new health care environment.
Extensive market research showed that, after 65 years in the community, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida was one of the most recognizable brands in the state, so the decision to replace it with the catchier Florida Blue was not made lightly, said Steve Snell, vice president of enterprise marketing.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, he said, health insurance, and health care in general, are undergoing major changes. In the past, insurance companies were perceived as financial intermediaries between providers and payers, existing to pay claims.
"The Affordable Care Act has changed that," Mr. Snell said. "It’s no longer sustainable as a business model. Now there is much tighter integration between delivery of care and finance of care."
If all providers focus on is fixing what’s broken and not on keeping people healthy, they will have a tough time staying in business, he said. "Now it’s not about waiting for something to fall off, but making sure it doesn’t fall off in the first place."
These changes, he said, also affect the role of insurance providers. "It’s almost like as an industry we shook up the snow globe," he said. "In the new world order that we are establishing, it is less about just paying claims than about being a healthcare solutions company.
"We want you to be healthier because it can save us money."
Florida Blue has long run programs on diet, exercise and disease management, Mr. Snell said, but now, "from a marketing and communications perspective, we are shining a light on such things as calorie intake, fat content, making better food choices and so on. People are turning to companies like ours to help administer and manage wellness programs and be a partner in the journey."
Hence the company’s new tagline, "in the pursuit of health," he said, and the name change, "which feels less stodgy and more local to us and to the consumers we surveyed."
Florida Blue is a licensee of the nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which had to approve these changes. Licensees in other states, Mr. Snell said, may operate under other names; Pennsylvania has at least two, Mark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Independent Blue Cross. But the familiar cross and shield emblem is the same throughout the network.
The physical work of changing logos on merchandise and signs on buildings will be finished by the end of this year, he said, but repositioning of the brand in the public mind will take somewhat longer. Florida Blue measures public brand awareness twice a year, Mr. Snell said, "and we are seeing steady upticks in aided and unaided awareness. Every time we do this, is it coming up? But we still get people on the phone who ask, "Am I talking to Blue Cross?’
"With large brands, there is a period of time that it takes to catch on. Once we get within a few percentage points of understanding and awareness being equal, we will more fully change over to Florida Blue. We don’t have plans on radar screen to completely get rid of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. It’s a matter of advertising, community events and exposure in the marketplace."To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e-MIAMI TODAY, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.