Have Mercy

By Mash Bonigala

The word ‘Mercy’ is one that is heard in hospital names all over the United States. This is due to the historical influence of the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy, who opened hospitals throughout the nation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many of these hospitals are now owned by big hospital corporations and bear other names, but there are still hundreds of Mercy hospitals throughout America.

These tend to be joined into large regional groups; Catholic Healthcare West, for example, runs Mercy hospitals and other healthcare organizations on the West Coast, while the subject of today’s post, Mercy Health System is spread over the South and Southwest. However, Mercy Health Systems did not have a single salient logo design and brand. Instead, each member hospital and organization had its own health logo design. As you might expect, this leads to a great deal of confusion. Many people in these communities do not view Mercy Health Systems as a single brand; they see each hospital as a separate entity that happens to have a similar name to the hospital in the next town over.

This is changing as of last month. Mercy Health Systems has developed a health care logo design that will represent them as a single corporate entity. It features simply the word ‘Mercy’ in rounded blue letters that are comforting and corporate at the same time, along with a cross image that shows the Christian logo of the organization.

A layered cross has been used by many of the Mercy Hospitals, although each had its own unique design and color palette. This one uses modern versions of primary colors and intersecting lines that look like layered transparencies. The cross is formed by the negative space between these lines. It is a modern logo that is overtly religious but not overwhelmingly so. This seems to be a good balance for the brand.

This logo will be used by all of the member hospitals and organizations, helping to create a single brand that can be recognized by people who move between the communities. The cross within a cross is meant to portray the fact that the organizations are all created with the same central purpose. It is a stylistic modernization of the cross that the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, used for her ministries. Because these are the foundation of the current Mercy health systems, this historical touch has real meaning in today’s Mercy Health brands.

The new logo is colorful, but it will maintain some recognition in black and white or another color scheme. It is simple enough to work in small formats, but complex and meaningful enough to look good in a huge scale, such as on a billboard. This is important because it certainly will be used on everything from business cards to uniforms to billboards. Health care is big business in the United States, and health care organizations need good logo design even more than the average company. We like the new logo and the concept of a unified design for all of the hospitals involved, but only time will tell if this somewhat trendy logo has the staying power that the organization demands.