The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is the world’s leading hospital and research institution in physical medicine and rehabilitation, with some of the finest researchers and physicians in the fields of rehabilitation medicine, biomedical engineering and neuroscience. Having virtually defined the field during the last half of the 20th century, it is the only hospital in the U.S. to be ranked number one in its field for the past 25 years.
RIC needed to differentiate itself to convey its leadership in research, care and outcomes. There are many “Rehabilitation Institutes” and “rehabilitation” is a confusing word that can also suggest drug, alcohol, or housing rehabilitation. Most importantly, RIC was building a $600M 27-story new building in downtown Chicago around the groundbreaking concept of placing researchers, doctors and patients in common, technology-enabled spaces that speed the translation of research to outcomes. This transformative concept and new building called for a new identity, but RIC’s Board was initially reluctant to change the brand name.
Marshall helped RIC’s Board see the value of communicating the core idea of Science-Driven Breakthroughs in Human Ability through a new name and visual identity.
Identity: We supported the use of AbilityLab as the new name – to convey the ways in which the Institute redefines the field, and to emphasize its successful patient outcomes.
Messaging: We developed key messaging to support the name change, and provided a solution for incorporating the name of a major donor for appropriate uses on the building.
Brand Architecture: We recommended a brand architecture and co-branding solutions for AbilityLab’s partnerships with other hospitals and for its multiple out-patient clinics.
Building off this foundation, our design partner, Ammunition Group, created a new graphic identity and brand guidelines while EGG Office created striking interior graphics and wayfinding schemes, all of which combine in the new building to create a dynamic, energizing environment for researchers, doctors and patients.
The new identity has spurred a major leap forward in awareness, appreciation and understanding of this unique institution’s continuing leadership of its field. Shirley Ryan, the major donor for the new building, said that the new name was a major influence on her decision to make her gift.