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Northwell Health, formerly North Shore-LIJ, to spend millions on rebranding, chief says

To prepare for the cost of the rebranding, CEO Michael Dowling said the system conserved marketing investments in the lead-up.

The new logo of Northwell Health (handout)The new logo of Northwell Health (handout)

Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling on Monday said it would cost the healthcare provider, formally known as the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, tens of million of dollars over the next two to three years as the newly named company embarks on a massive campaign to educate the public about its new moniker.

Dowling said the marketing blitz, set to start in January, wraps up what has been a seven-year process to change the name of New York's largest health system.

"The name that we've had has only represented two facilities," Dowling said, on an afternoon conference call with members of the media, referring to the North Shore University and the Long Island Jewish hospitals. "Now we're much, much more than that. We wanted to represent the totality of the system."

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[Also: North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System changes name to Northwell Health]

Dowling said the system originally had up to 600 possible names before finally narrowing it down to two in the past few months. Records online show the system filed to trademark the Northwell name in July.

Much of the cost in rebranding will come with creating new signs for its vast network of hospitals. ambulatory centers, nursing centers, primary care, hospice and other specialty facilities.

While none of the hospitals will change names, the phrase "a member of Northwell Health" will be added to all facility signage. The system's medical school, however, will be rebranded as the Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine.

"You have to respect the history of all of these local names, he said.

[Also: Hospital marketing departments expand with focus on data, social]

In addition to that, Dowling said Northwell will launch a major campaign to educate consumers through digital marketing, media and direct mail, working with marketing firm J. Walter Thompson to develop its messaging. Though Dowling said Northwell will be the one in charge of directly managing the campaign through its own marketing division.

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To prepare for the cost of the rebranding, Dowling said the system had conserved marketing investments in the lead-up.

"We have not been branding the health system over the last year or two or three because in anticipation of the new name we have been basically silent in the marketplace. So a lot of the expenditure would be spent anyway if we didn't do a new name," he said.

Dowling also hopes Northwell Health will convey more the integrated focus of the system, which focuses on research, academics, investing and overall wellness as much as it does caring for the very sick and injured.

"We wanted to send a message that we are innovative and that our culture is one of innovation and entrepreneurship," he said. "We're not afraid to take risk."

Twitter: @HenryPowderly