The Identity Dilemma: Navigating Rebranding Decisions In Home Health M&A

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After the ink dries following a transaction in the home-based care space, the question of whether to rebrand newly acquired locations sparks an interesting consideration.

While some companies swiftly integrate acquired businesses into their brand and splash their logo, marketing materials and likeness on the newly acquired assets, others opt to maintain the selling company’s identity.

In home-based care, the decision to “rebrand or retain” takes into account a number of factors, sources told Home Health Care News. They include operational efficiency, patient/client retention, market positioning and more.


Proponents of rebranding argue for consistency and streamlined operations. Those in favor of maintaining the acquired company’s identity highlight the value of a strategically cultivated reputation and consumer trust.

“Anecdotally, I would say that I’ve seen more of a desire to keep the local branding as opposed to converting to whatever national brand or buyer brand that’s there,” Mark Kulik, senior managing director at The Braff Group, told HHCN. “At the same time, you have chief strategy officers, certainly at the larger organizations, asking themselves, ‘How do we position ourselves long term, and where do we stand relative to improving our national awareness and national branding?’”

There are plenty of successful examples of both strategies in the industry.


Power behind a name

When considering whether to rebrand, Frontpoint Health CEO Brent Korte likes to remember that all health care is local.

Post-acquisition, Korte and his team ​​put an emphasis on upholding a community-centric approach when engaging with and integrating new organizations.

“From Day 1, we wanted to live through this value of having a community focus,” Korte told HHCN. “That’s a really easy thing for a CEO to say, and it’s a lot harder to actualize.”

Frontpoint has completed two significant transactions since its formation, the most recent one announced at the start of March.

“If the companies we partner with are providing great care — and we wouldn’t partner with ones that aren’t — then their recipe in their community is working,” Korte explained. “If we were to come in and change their name and their brand, we would effectively be changing the way the community views them as a company.”

Backed by Cimarron Healthcare Capital and Tacoma Holdings, Frontpoint Health is an access-centric home health and hospice provider that’s seeking to serve all types of patients, regardless of payer. After acquiring High Plains Senior Care Group, the company now provides care across 176 counties in Texas.

A core tenet of Korte’s philosophy is the intrinsic value of a provider’s brand and its relationship with the local community. Changing a company’s name or brand identity post-acquisition could potentially disrupt the trust and perception built over time, he said.

It’s not just a perception move either. Clinician retention, hiring practices and recognizing the value of an established brand are all things to consider.

“The last thing we would want to do is go into these small- or medium-sized communities in the Texas panhandle and say, ‘Big, bad, out-of-town company is coming in and changing everything,’” Korte said. “That’s not who we are. We want to perpetuate more of the great work that the employees are already doing and the great care that they’re providing.”

One of the largest and most well-known home health providers in the industry – LHC Group – is another prime example of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” strategy. Although LHC Group has acquired dozens of different brands over the years, it has generally taken the retain-the-name route.

“These are the names that people in the community have come to know and trust,” LHC Group co-founder and long-time CEO Keith Myers told HHCN in 2019. “It’s not only a competitive advantage for our partner and us alike, it’s what we’ve done from the very beginning and how we truly maintain and grow existing reputations within the communities we are so fortunate to serve.”

Strategically rebranding

On the flip side, other organizations – some of which are among the largest and more well-known in the industry as well – did decide to eventually rebrand following acquisitions.

AccentCare is an example. The Dallas-based company began a “brand refresh” in January 2022 after previously being a “house of brands,” with its owned assets including Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care, Sta-Home, Gareda, HRS, Texas Home Health, Southeastern Health Care at Home and Guardian.

For AccentCare, the decision to rebrand was all about creating a unified company culture and national reputation.

“This is about so much more than our brand,” former CEO Steve Rodgers told HHCN. “It’s about who we want to be as an organization and about aligning our people around that. And it’s about how we face the marketplace.”

For other acquirers, it’s a matter of situation.

“Health care is driven at the local market level, so we first seek to understand the market,” Traditions Health CEO David Klementz told HHCN in an email. “We consider the scale, lines of business and geography of the acquisition from a branding perspective. Once we identify an opportunity, our branding strategy is opportunity-specific based on scale and local market differentiators.”

The Nashville-based Traditions offers home health, hospice and palliative care services to more than 25,000 patients a year across more than 130 locations in 18 states.

Klementz noted that while timelines for rebrandings may vary, the timelines around platform integrations typically do not.

“From an integration of platforms perspective, that typically happens relatively quickly,” Klementz said. “This allows everyone the opportunity to provide care, and look at operations and performance in the same way to be successful.”

The value in onboarding and rebranding a new acquisition is dependent on the nature of the acquisition and the specific needs of that organization, Klementz continued. State regulations also play a role in deciding which route an agency will take.

“In some cases, we have found that the need to co-brand for a period of time is critical for the communities that the organization served,” Klementz said. “In other instances, a swift rebrand — within three months — may be what is best for the market.”

With any rebrand, Klementz emphasized, there needs to be sensitivity to the communities served by that acquired company, as well as sensitivity to the employee and company culture.

Keeping community focus

From an M&A perspective, acquirers are not simply buying buildings and calling them their own.

What they’re buying is the assembled workforce and the reputation of that company.

“The question is: Do you want to risk any sort of downside to that reputation by coming in on a Monday morning and all of a sudden rebranding?” Kulik said. “If it’s a one-location business, then there’s probably more of a bias to convert to a national brand, but if it’s a state or regional player with 30 locations, I think buyers would benefit from keeping that brand in place. Why change something that’s been working well?”

After considering the workforce and reputation of the acquired company, the decision to rebrand becomes a strategic one. For state or regional players with multiple locations, maintaining the existing brand may be advantageous, especially if it has a strong track record.

This approach aligns with the idea of community focus, recognizing that different regions have unique needs and expectations.

“There’s no such thing as best-in-class home health,” Korte said. “People have different expectations, clinicians have different practices and methods of providing care. To us, that’s what community focus means – and it starts with honoring the brand.”

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