Duncan Meets Aspire Health Alliance

Duncan almost met Aspire Health Alliance at a branding meeting. The problem was that his name was not Duncan. It was Dunkin’.

When Dunkin’ Donuts announced they were rebranding and dropping the word Donuts, for some reason my brain thought they were changing their brand to Duncan.

I reasoned Duncan must have been the guy who created the hole in the donut, and they wanted to honor him. I used to work in a bakery. My job was to put the jelly in the donut. I certainly felt under-appreciated. It makes complete sense to me that the person who created the hole should be revered. The person must have had a name. Why not Duncan?

You can stop laughing now.

Once my ears and my brain became more aligned with reality, I started thinking about what it means to be an established brand and then undertake a change. Dunkin’ Donuts is modernizing, updating, taking the focus off talking about donuts and meeting the world where the action is, on coffee and other assorted beverages. Brand is what you’re known for. That’s the definition of branding. Dunkin’ is redefining what they want to be known for.

We’re doing something similar. We’re not changing our service in any way or putting in new self-ordering kiosks or fancy on-tap machines. But we are being intentional about bringing out the truth of our organization and writing the story of our future as we change our name to Aspire Health Alliance. Each word means something to us.

Aspire. We aspire to a clear ambition around emotional well-being as a part of everyone’s well-being. We proudly wave the flag of “No health without mental health.” We are not only delivering care but also creating a more just world. The world aspire lifts a head to something greater, and our hearts follow.

Health. We see health in a broad way, more than the absence of disease or a reduction in symptoms. It is a life worthwhile as defined by the people we serve, not by us or anyone else. Health includes the opportunity for love and friendship.

Alliance. We recognize that we cannot achieve our aspiration alone. We enter into alliance at multiple levels: therapeutic alliances with the people we serve, partnerships with other agencies, including governmental groups that cover the cost of our services, communities into which we nestle as community-based providers.

“Aspire Health Alliance” is not just a clever phrase but a craving for something better, a sense of producing something good and not being alone on the journey. As we launch, we are also, more explicit about communicating our simple list of core values.

  1. Your well-being is essential. The life worthwhile is not treatment. It’s a sense of you and your own agency, and we will respect that.
  2. Health is about trust. You can trust us to be well-trained people, to keep information confidential, to be abreast on the latest research, to be open when you need us, to stand up and advocate and say that stigma about mental illness is wrong.
  3. Community matters. We don’t work in isolation. We work with you, and we work with others to help you.

I’m not sure we can compete with the rebranding efforts of Duncan, er, Dunkin’. But we are honoring people who use our services. We make sure they know what we care about. It’s not a billboard exercise for us. It’s an exercise of love and compassion and telling the story of who we have been and who we intend to be.

P.S. The Internet tells me that Hanson Gregory first put a hole in a donut. But who believes everything you read on the Internet? Why not Duncan?