Not Just a Project Anymore: DeSantis Breindel Helps Project Health Build a Brand It Can Grow With

Project HEALTH, an innovative non-profit that helps low-income families gain access to healthcare, food, and housing through doctor “prescriptions,” has officially become Health Leads. Working with B2B branding and marketing firm DeSantis Breindel, the Boston-based organization has launched a new name and branding platform to support its anticipated growth into a nationwide health care game changer, and convey its vision to change the way patient care is delivered in America.

Since founding Project HEALTH in 1996 as a Harvard undergrad, Rebecca Onie has built a highly successful not-for-profit that helps low-income families get access to a broad range of services – food, heat, transportation – during their doctor visits, giving them a greater chance of actually improving their health. By engaging undergraduate students as volunteers, the organization is helping to build the next generation of health leaders who understand the non-medical, social determinants of health. The organization has seen significant growth over the past few years; for example, it provided services to 44% more patients in 2010 than 2009.

“With all the progress we’ve made, we realized, we’re not just a ‘project’ anymore,” said Onie, who won a MacArthur Foundation grant last year. “We are beginning to change the way patient care is delivered in America.”

To reach its full potential, Project HEALTH needed a new name and brand platform that reflected its aspiration of expanding nationally. DeSantis Breindel, with extensive experience working with foundations and not-for-profits on brand building initiatives, partnered with the organization for a six month engagement to develop not only a name and brand platform, but also an entirely new visual identity.

“The transition from a local brand to a national one is a significant challenge for any organization,” said Howard Breindel, Partner and Co-founder of DeSantis Breindel. “For Project HEALTH, we wanted to build a brand that was flexible enough to support their rapid growth and strong enough to empower the organization with a consistent way to tell its story that was engaging for all audiences.”

Rebranding is never an easy process, but Onie is thrilled with the results. “An enormous thanks to the DeSantis Breindel team for so thoughtfully leading us through this process, even in the midst of vigorous and often competing opinions, and to the RWJF team for making this process possible,” she said. “We are deeply indebted to you for enabling us to make this critical transition in our organizational trajectory. It is a real milestone.”

Adds Dru DeSantis, Partner and Co-founder of DeSantis Breindel, “Health Leads volunteers interact with patients and their families in hospital and clinic waiting rooms.  These are busy, often hectic places full of young children, their parents, volunteers and health care professionals. Our goal was to create a lively, consistent and memorable brand that would stand out in this environment while also appealing to the funders and policymakers that Health Leads was looking to engage.”

About Health Leads

Founded in the Boston Medical Center Pediatrics Department in 1996, Health Leads envisions a health care system in which patients’ unmet resource needs are routinely and systematically addressed as a standard element of patient care. In clinics where Health Leads operates, physicians can “prescribe” food, housing, job training, health insurance, or other resources for their patients as routinely as they do medication. Located in the waiting room, college volunteers “fill” the prescriptions by connecting patients with key resources. The model is building a pipeline of next-generation leaders – health care providers, policymakers, and social entrepreneurs – with a foundational understanding of the social determinants of health. Currently, Health Leads operates from 16 hospitals and health centers across the country.