Rebranding is defined by Wikipedia as,
Rebranding is the creation of a new name, term, symbol, design, or a combination of them for an established brand with the intention of developing a differentiated (new) position in the mind of stakeholders and competitors.
Far from just a change of visual identity, rebranding should be part of an overall brand strategy for a product or service.
This may involve radical changes to the brand’s logo, brand name, image, marketing strategy, and advertising themes. These changes are typically aimed at the repositioning of the brand/company, sometimes in an attempt to distance itself from certain negative connotations of the previous branding, or to move the brand upmarket. However, the main reason for a re-brand is to communicate a new message for a company, something that has evolved, or the new board of directors wish to communicate.
Rebranding can be applied to new products, mature products, or even products still in development. The process can occur intentionally through a deliberate change in strategy or occur unintentionally from unplanned, emergent situations, such as a “Chapter 11 corporate restructuring,” “union busting,” or “bankruptcy.”
Apparently, DC Fire EMS (DC-FEMS) Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has decided to rebrand DCFD into DC-FEMS. Not exactly news since he issued the order some time back. Predictably, the fire suppresssion side of the agency isn’t happy with this and would like to stay with the moniker DCFD with an EMS division and a fire suppression division.
On the surface Ellerbe seems to be sending a message that DCFDEMSEIEIO is one big happy family. From news reports over the past few years, I’d think it’s one big dysfunctional family, but what do I know?
The crux of the latest crisis is that the agency has banned perfectly good outer wear that has the old, no longer permitted, lettering and logo.
“I know it looks like a Home Shopping Network display here, but this is what
we have gone through,” said Lieutenant Robert Alvarado with Truck 13,
showing FOX 5 on a table all of the winter weather gear he has purchased
that is now no longer compliant with the uniform policy. “We started out at
the end of the year with this t-shirt here and this sweatshirt here and both
were an acceptable uniform item. As of January 1st, these items are done,
can’t wear them. This jacket as well because it has DCFD on the back, and
this is a winter jacket purchased with my own money which makes me clearly
identifiable as a member of the department. That’s no longer good.”
What is infuriating to Lt. Alvarado and others on the department is the fact
these changes don’t come cheap.
The fire department does not pay for winter outerwear and the only option
for firefighters to remain compliant and not be disciplined is to buy
additional outerwear with the proper identification or wear their turnout
gear around the clock.
Since fire suppression personnel have to, for some reason that I can’t fathom, buy their own outer wear, this is gotten fire suppression noses out of joint. Even worse, the agency has bought new outer wear for EMS only and command personnel. Again, that’s inexplicable to me, but it must make sense to El Jefe.
The bigger issue, again at least to me, is that this just might be image building to create the perception that Chief Ellerbe is changing the culture while doing nothing to correct the structural problems which make EMS delivery in the nation’s Capitol a sad, but dangerous joke.
Rather than superficial, exterior changes, the Chief’s efforts would be better directed to improving hiring standards, working on response times, some QA to catch problems before the demand letters and lawsuits arrive, and maybe even buy some more ambulances.
All of that takes committment and of course money. Both of which seem to be in short supply at DCFD, DC-FEMS, or Comedy Central, whatever the agency is calling itself this week.
As the saying goes, perception is reality. If the perception is that your EMS service delivers slow, sub optimal medical care, the reality is that rebranding won’t fix the problems.