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Rebranding is never easy, even under the best circumstances. And Nick Ragone (LinkedIn | Twitter) was not facing easy circumstances. When he took over as the CMO of Ascension, he was tasked with taking dozens of individual healthcare providers and bringing them all under a single brand to form the largest non-profit health system in the United States.

On this episode of Marketing Trends, Nick tells us how he pulled this off and what it taught him about branding and marketing leadership.

3 Key Takeaways:

– If you’re going to rebrand, it needs to start internally first. It can take years to build that internal buy-in, but it’s absolutely necessary.

– Great marketing needs to have pull-through. It can’t just be creative for creativity’s sake; it needs to present a solution to a legitimate market need.

– “A brand is a promise. A great brand is a promise kept.”


Nick Ragone serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Ascension. In this role, he oversees the creation and execution of brand strategy and experience, marketing and advertising, public relations and thought leadership, social media strategy, internal communications, and consumer access for Ascension and its subsidiaries. Beginning in 2016, Nick has led the national rebranding of Ascension’s local health systems and sites of care to adopt the unified Ascension name, the largest such undertaking ever in the provider space.

In 2019, Nick was recognized by Forbes magazine as one of its “50 Game-Changing Marketing Leaders.” In both 2016 and 2017, Nick was recognized by PRWeek as one of the 50 most influential marketers and communicators in healthcare. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, the Holmes Report, a leading marketing and communications trade publication, recognized Nick on its annual “Influence 100” list, which identifies the 100 most influential marketers and communicators around the globe.

Nick is a graduate of Rutgers University and the Eagleton Institute of Political Science (undergraduate program), and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and two children.

Quotes from Nick:

“If you’re going to rebrand, it’s a very inside-out process. Meaning you have to start internally and socialize the concept with all your stakeholders and get them excited by it. In our case, it took a year and a half to get that internal buy-in with all of our physicians, clinicians, market leaders, and even our community. You don’t just change a name and it’s done.”

“A brand is a promise. A great brand is a promise kept.”

– “The difference between good marketing and bad marketing is pull-through on the brand. I see great commercials all the time that create an emotion, but it’s so attenuated from the actual delivery of the product or service. It’s a great ad, but you have no recall for what it was. There’s no connective tissue.”

“Creative in search of a solution is backward. I like to reverse engineer and look at ‘What’s the problem to be solved? What are we solving for the consumer?’”


The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

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