Ah, the startup life. I'm sure more than a few of you reading this can relate to the intensity – and excitement – that comes with being part of a young, rapidly growing company. The need to be agile, resilient, and focused is front-n-center daily. So when we kicked off the conversation about a brand refresh, we were going to have to embrace this dynamic to be successful.
When I joined OODA earlier this year, there was already a healthy appetite across the company to address our brand. Our current logo and collateral served us well, but we had outgrown it, both in maturity and messaging. And like most startups, working on internal objectives often came at the expense of working on the product we would be launching (and subsequently have launched), especially with a small team.
So to help keep the rebrand a priority, we set a launch target — naturally, it would be one of the largest healthcare innovation conferences in the country, HLTH, in October. Since we were going to be launching our first product, OODAPay™ at HLTH, it was an ideal opportunity to piggyback on the publicity. A fresh new brand would both bolster the excitement around OODAPay and demonstrate the credibility of an established company.
Cool, now we have our north star to march towards, so let's get started...
First, we asked ourselves if the name OODA was still relevant? Ultimately, the decision was yes, that the origin story of our name was still compelling; however, we felt there was room to shift the narrative around it. Because it's an acronym — and not our acronym, but one that originated from the military — there was an opportunity to retain the metaphor without being overtly literal. We aren't, "Observe, Orient, Decide, Act" Health. Nor do we pronounce our name, "oh-oh-dee-ay" as you would with an abbreviated name like HP, UPS, or BMW — we are, "oooo-da."
Once we knew we were keeping the name, we juked to the inside and spent time reflecting on our intrinsic values. What makes OODA, OODA? What does our blended DNA look like across the organization? How do we self-identify internally and how do we communicate that externally?
In tandem with how we see ourselves, we needed to reflect and frame the problems we're trying to solve as a company. We did several activities to help us bring clarity to this, including Simon Sinek's, "Start with the why."
This turned out to be a more significant challenge than we anticipated. Because we're solving a problem in healthcare at the system level (and bringing more than one product to market), OODAPay users are not our only audience. We needed to be able to communicate with each player in the system: payers, providers, and patients. After a few days of locking ourselves in a room with nothing but caffeine and chocolate, we unraveled our 'big idea' statement:
This statement contained the keywords we'd use to focus our design efforts:
At this point, we finally felt confident enough to begin getting the ideas swirling in our brains out of our heads. Some of us preferred to sketch while others explored through pixels.
We presented three visual directions we felt we could go and initially pitched them to a small internal team of stakeholders. Not all stakeholders were part of the process, so it was essential to share the narrative of how and why we got here.
A testament to the homework that was done before any design, there were no sweeping directional changes. One direction was quickly identified as not the right fit, so the focus turned to how to fine-tune the other two — both of which the team felt were solid contenders.
After tackling a few smaller iterations, we presented to the rest of the executive leadership team and received their final stamp of approval.
We officially had a new visual identity.
As with many things in the evolution of a startup, this new identity will continue to evolve. For example, how we verbally communicate our brand — our tone and writing style — is something still in the works. Or how we execute new collateral will largely be influenced over the next few months as our needs as a company grow.
In the meantime, we hope the new visual identity resonates and plays its part in elevating OODA Health to the next level.
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