A brand for people who believe that life never ceases to surprise and inspire

Our society is ageing and going through an associated cultural transformation. As we age, chronic health issues become more widespread and the need for support more comprehensive and long-lasting. And as baby boomers join the ranks of those in need, they want to retain their signature sense of agency and independence in later life.

The Australian government has responded to these trends with new policies aimed at establishing a more user-centred service delivery system. The result is a wholesale rethinking of how to supply aged care, disability and community services. Established players – usually not-for-profit organisations, with a religious background – are transforming how they operate. New for-profit entrants are bringing a level of competition never experienced before in the sector.

PUSH was appointed by Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) in 2018. They are an agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, operating one of the most extensive portfolios of services in Victoria.

VMCH provides disability services, residential and at-home aged care, retirement living, affordable homes, opportunity shops, and specialist education for children. In short, it does a lot of good for a great many people. The company was born in 2015 by merging two old institutions, Villa Maria and Catholic Homes. Fast forward to 2018 and the new organisation was still lacking a brand strategy and identity to unite all its services into a coherent, contemporary entity. This was the task we were commissioned to facilitate.

The new brand had to build on the VMCH mission centred on the organisation’s Catholicity and its commitment to creating choices – especially for people who are disadvantaged and marginalised – and building inclusive and compassionate communities.

Our engagement started with visits to many facilities run by VMCH and meetings with clients, their families and staff. We ran interviews, workshops and online forums. Key was to find common threads of insights across the various service lines while deep diving into each of them.

A series of challenges was articulated and shared with the company’s leadership: how to create a bigger, unifying story while being recognised as specialists within each service line across a diversified portfolio? How to be more professional without losing compassion and the human touch? How to better translate the Catholic ethos into a lever that drives preference, while connecting with a bigger audience beyond a traditional religious core?

“From project commencement until brand launch, PUSH’s approach made the usually overwhelming and challenging organisational re-branding an exciting ride and a universal success. In particular, the discovery phase meant that stakeholders from every part of our very complex business, including our board and executive team through to our clients and support staff, were engaged and had an active stake in determining what our brand stands for. Our new brand and service nomenclature have been embraced across VMCH with great pride and excitement. I am delighted with PUSH’s strategic and creative approach and the ongoing support we receive.”

Kym Molineux-Whitfield
Senior Manager
Marketing, Communications and Fundraising

We analysed cultural norms in society and developed a new model of client needs. Using this as a foil, we explored alternative potential positionings for VMCH and each of its service lines.

'Society often adopts a shallow interpretation on what a life worth living means. People lacking independence are taken for granted, put in a box, assumed to have exhausted their vital energy.

Not so at VMCH.

Our Catholic perspective gives us deeper view of what life is. With a whole-of-person support and empowerment, life is an ongoing journey that never ceases to surprise and inspire. The physical, cognitive or financial autonomy of our clients might be limited, but they continue to grow as human beings, writing chapter after chapter of a wondrous story – their life.'

The new brand strategy revolves around the idea of people being empowered to live the life of their choice.

'VMCH exists to champion and celebrate the dignity of every person. It works with people and their families from all walks of life to help them pursue a whole-of-person wellbeing and an enriching engagement with the world, so that they are empowered to live the lives they choose. Lives – each unique and extraordinary – providing every single day a new opportunity to experience, to create, to grow.'

We created a new visual and verbal identity for a brand inherently compassionate and in tune with the times.

The name Villa Maria Catholic Homes was contracted to VMCH as the default name for the majority of uses. And a whole new brand storytelling was developed around it. It’s organised into various themes: facilities, staff, lifestyles, interactions between clients and carers and the most important of all, clients’ own personal stories.

The new verbal identity is built around the idea that ‘next starts now’: we believe that there’s always more to come in life. It is articulated through four writing principles: find affinity, acknowledge autonomy, first person first, and be positively direct. The resulting voice is a departure from how the brand used to speak and a more distinctive interpretation of how VMCH champions the dignity of every person.

PUSH undertook a systematic evolution of VMCH’s brand architecture and its nomenclature of services and assets. We wanted to create new naming protocols that would be more user-friendly, align with new government policies and reflect society’s changing attitudes to supporting people in need.

Services and assets were clustered across different tiers – from the service line level all the way into specific programs run at every VMCH asset. New protocols were explored, discussed and codified for each tier. VMCH’s portfolio is now organised around seven service lines: residential aged care, retirement living, affordable homes, at-home aged care, disability services, early learning & therapy and specialist school education. And we now have naming protocols that stretch across different service lines. This approach reflects how clients access and navigate multiple services in real life, and helps VMCH embrace a cohesive view of what it stands for and what it does to enhance the lives of its many clients.

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