Uncovering a medical foundation's "why" to help grow its brand

An SIR Case Study | Back to OUR WORK


SIR Client: Medical College of Virginia Foundation (MCVF)

Challenge: MCVF was created with the sole purpose of raising money for Virginia’s top-ranked academic medical program. Yet today the organization faces an increasingly competitive marketplace for donations, particularly in healthcare. As MCVF sought clarity on its brand positioning and key differentiators among target audiences, its leaders turned to SIR to help create a comprehensive strategic marketing plan that would help them achieve long-term fiscal sustainability and growth.


SIR’s multiphased approach included:

  • Landscape assessment — working with MCVF staff to identify peer and aspirational institutions to uncover best practices for communications in this highly specific field.
  • Qualitative research — conducting focus groups with MCVF’s key stakeholders (donors, alumni, board members, staff, and other key players) to identify the most-effective positioning benefits.
  • Quantitative research — testing these benefits through a custom-designed survey among an even broader set of stakeholders.

Using this research, SIR then developed a brand message architecture with key elements specific to MCVF: a brand positioning statement, a brand promise and message, core values, and corresponding "reasons to believe." These were all packaged in proprietary two-page communications "compass" for MCVF's internal stakeholders to have going forward as a reference tool.

Results: MCVF is using this brand architecture to guide development of new communications materials — including those on its rebranded website — to support a more intentional fundraising effort.

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