ACR Bulletin

Covering topics relevant to the practice of radiology

New Look, Same Values

The College's new branding speaks to a bold, bright future for radiology.
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We had a representative Brand Refresh Committee comprised of ACR members guiding the conversation.

—Neil U. Lall, MD
June 22, 2023

An organization’s brand should be bold, inclusive and forward-thinking. In line with that ideology, the College unveiled its new brand as part of the Centennial celebration at ACR 2023. The brand refresh delivers a new tagline — “Focused. Forward. Together.” — and a more modern, stylized logo to reinforce the ACR’s distinctive role in radiology. The ACR’s mission will continue to drive members’ success while constantly evolving to ensure radiology’s impact on the future through incomparable patient care.

The Bulletin had a chance to speak with Neil U. Lall, MD, chair of the ACR’s Brand Refresh Committee, director of informatics at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and assistant professor of radiology in the pediatric radiology and neuroradiology division at Emory University, about the reasoning and timing behind the brand refresh and why it should matter to members.

What was the impetus behind the rebranding of ACR’s logo and tagline?

The ball had really started rolling on this process in 2017, with multiple task forces and committees evaluating the College’s brand strategy in the time since then. The Brand Refresh Committee picked up the last leg of this effort over the past year to get us to these final deliverables. Some may ask, “Why now?”

I think one of the simplest reasons is the overlap with the College’s Centennial celebration, which gives us an opportunity to look back at what the ACR has accomplished, what we stand for and where we are going. To that end, this refresh is something that was long overdue.

How was your most recent approach to the new brand different from past efforts?

I remember the BOC and CSC discussing a refresh almost 10 years ago. At the time, there was no formalized process in place — mostly just intermittent internal discussions within the College leadership. There wasn’t a big push to change things immediately. In the years that followed, there were several committees, including ours, formed under the leadership of the incoming ACR president, William T. Herrington MD, FACR, in his prior role as chair of the ACR Commission on Membership and Communications.

Our most recent efforts have come to fruition by using the work of our dedicated committee and input from consultants, member surveys and focus groups. The surveys and focus groups were conducted prior to bringing in consultants to facilitate the rebranding. Everyone took a committed, team approach to the new brand. We had a representative Brand Refresh Committee comprised of ACR members guiding the conversation. There was a lot of committee diversity in terms of gender, race, age, specialty, practice type, physical location and prior College involvement. The common thread, however, was that everyone understood the importance of the ACR and wanted to emphasize what the College does for its members.

The primary goal was always to show how the ACR is a distinct leader in radiology and, in the case of our logo, how we stand out visually.

—Neil U. Lall, MD

What were some of the Brand Refresh Committee’s considerations in selecting a new logo and tagline?

When we looked at the different choices and options — specifically for the logo — some of them were even more modern, or more of a shift away from what we are used to. I think where we landed is a nice balance of something simple and recognizable that delivers the right message. It’s new and it’s bold, but it isn’t too radical for people to grasp. We obviously didn’t want to look like another organization’s brand. When holding it up against our peer organizations — groups that may be perceived as operating within the same space — this new logo provides a distinctive look that stands out from the crowd. Though not the first letter in ACR, we felt the letter “R” was the most important part of our identity; it truly represents who we are, what we stand for and our dedication to being a champion for all radiologists. The tagline, too, boils down the College’s thinking in moving members forward.

Describe your work with consultants to hit the right branding mark.

Our consultants took information from ACR surveys and focus groups, and did a considerable amount of branding research themselves, to come up with some basic ideas about where we were and how we got to the point of establishing a formal brand refresh process. They looked at the impetus behind it and what members and potential members thought about emphasizing our brand. They compared the College’s most important values and areas of activities to peer organizations to evaluate how those groups define themselves. They had to determine how to define our niche and identify us in a way that makes us unique — while at the same time potentially complementing the work of partners and collaborators.

The primary goal was always to show how the ACR is a distinct leader in radiology and, in the case of our logo, how we stand out visually. The consultants presented their data and followed up with
options for us to consider. After giving feedback and voting, the committee came together on the final rebrand.

How does the new branding align with the College’s strategic plan?

The new branding better aligns with the College’s enhanced strategic plan of “Empowering the Radiologist of the Future.” It is not coincidental that the messaging is in step with a focus on positioning radiologists for success in future years — and on supporting strides toward more health equity, quality care and outcomes. This plan defined our vision, mission and core values, and these tenets in turn served as the framework to guide our branding decisions.

The idea behind the tagline verbiage — Focused. Forward. Together. — is to deliver the message that the ACR is propelling the profession forward by speaking for all physicians in imaging.
It is vital to articulate to our constituency that we are there for them now and will always advocate to increase member value and improve radiologic care. A salient point from both the strategic plan and our survey respondents was for the College to focus on the unique strengths we bring to the table, and our goal with the branding is to bring to light the unmatched benefits the ACR offers.

How do you think the new branding will be received by ACR members?

You can’t be everything to everybody, so it is hard to know for sure what the reception will be like in the short term. I think it is a big leap forward — modernizing something that has not been touched in a very long time. Change is difficult, and I think people at first may be a little apprehensive about it. We gave a preliminary presentation of the rebrand to the ACR BOC, which was followed by a discussion on the pros and cons of a new look.

During the course of the approximately 30-minute discussion, the participants had more and more time to take in the new logo displayed in front of them. At the end, the majority of the group were in favor of it, and many who were initially less in favor of the new logo stated they were swayed toward the rebrand after spending a little time with it. I think that’s what will happen with our members. I think there will be a bit of initial shock — because it is quite different — but then it is going to grow on them.

To see more photos from ACR 2023, view the full magazine online.

Author Interview by Chad E. Hudnall  senior writer, ACR Press