CareFlight: Building Brand Reputation and Trust

| June 18, 2020

Like most not-for-profits and many medium sized organisations, CareFlight works within the constraints of resource – people, time and money.

In two of the most highly regulated sectors, healthcare and aviation, CareFlight operates to the highest standard of patient care for treating trauma and providing critical medical care in urban, regional and rural remote areas: maintaining expensive aircraft and equipment; precision logistics co-ordination; medical, aviation, engineering and operational experts; and constant training, research and innovation.

As the landscape has changed significantly in the NFP space with 56,000 charities competing for funding, CareFlight needs to be a sustainable business, seeking funding through partnerships, providing contract services to businesses and government departments, as well as from business sponsorships and community donations. All the time, ensuring that as the business grows, the organisation and its people continue to consistently deliver, whilst innovating for the future.

Whilst CareFlight has been building reputation and trust over the last 34 years through its service delivery, there was low awareness of the brand, and we needed to shift this in order to secure funding and contracts to increase revenue.

Over the past 15 years, the organisation has expanded its services from its Original Rapid Response Critical Care helicopter service in Greater Sydney to a range of aeromedical services utilising different areas of expertise in regional, rural and remote areas across Australia and internationally.

In doing so, the positioning had shifted from emotional to rational to accommodate business and government customer needs and diversify revenue beyond fundraising. The overall effect was that the brand was watered down, burying the patient-first drive that is very much alive amongst employees, and losing its emotional connection with all audiences.

The brief

The Media, Communications and Marketing team was created in 2018 when I started at CareFlight. Mick Frewen started as CEO in April 2018, so it was a good time to review the brand against the new corporate strategy, with the view to broaden the brand’s relevance to new and existing audiences, and stretch across more services, establishing a relevant, differentiated and compelling platform for the future.

We did the due diligence of conducting a full program, reviewing the market and players within it, and consulting across our many audiences – government and business contract customers, business and community donors, employees and first responders, patients and families – to understand brand perceptions versus the actual offer and experience, and versus our competitors.

We didn’t have the luxury of time or never-ending budget so we fast-tracked our learning by implementing and iterating along the way.

What we did

We worked with Rachel Bevans at The Healthy Brand Company to achieve this. With her experience in developing brands that align employees, customers and stakeholders, and commercial and operational understanding, we were able to design a program that met our needs.

Initial research findings identified a gap in people understanding that CareFlight treats patients and not just cares for them. Right away, we changed the boilerplate messaging in media releases, social media, fundraising and contract communications to reflect this and saw an immediate uplift in engagement. This also gave us criteria so we could assess which contracts to pursue and how to describe our services, for immediate application.

Our employee consultation helped to rally the troops in the short term, whilst unearthing the dedication of the employees to the cause for the brand, some great stories about complicated rescues, community support and research and innovation to prove the brand, and highlight areas that needed more support to ensure delivery against the brand.

As part of the process, we developed measures for performance monitoring, insights and ideas for target audience and marketing. We developed brand values, behaviours, key messages and narrative, using the website as a mock application to stress test the brand and messaging; an integrated digital asset management system to house all brand assets, brand identity manual, copy style guide, key messaging and capability statements; an employee reward and recognition program; and the creation and delivery of in-house and online training and development programs.

For the CareFlight team, the job is not yet done. There are another 2-3 years of brand-led initiatives that will progressively roll out across the organisation, whilst monitoring brand performance and working with cross-functional teams to deliver against the promise.

The result so far

We’re proud that CareFlight’s social impact has been recognised by the community, rising from No. 3 on the Charity Reputation Index in 2017 to reach No. 1 in 2019.

Would your business like to work with CareFlight?

If you’d like to enquire about donations, sponsorships or fee for service partnerships with CareFlight, please contact Fiona Jackson on