AAPM&R is the primary medical society for the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Given the dynamic and transformative nature of the healthcare industry combined with a newly defined vision for the specialty, AAPM&R sought to reposition itself as the leader in advancing physiatry’s impact through health care. AAPM&R partnered with 50,000feet to simplify, streamline and reinvigorate its brand through an audience-driven approach that resulted in a flexible brand identity, modernized visual design system and assured messaging across its many channels.


Better Outcomes Start with Collaboration


AAPM&R serves its members and their patients, other health professionals and society by fostering excellence in physiatrist practice, education and research. AAPM&R is the only organization exclusively serving the needs of 9,000 practicing members representing all U.S. physicians as well as international colleagues from more than 35 countries. AAPM&R works to advance the PM&R approach to optimizing function, performance and rehabilitation outcomes with a clear focus on specialty advancement and the success of every member. 


As a membership-based organization, AAPM&R constantly endeavors to understand the needs of its core membership—practicing PM&R physicians (or physiatrists). The Academy heard its members express concerns about the livelihood of their practices, fear for their patients and access to the services and care they need while experiencing burnout from government regulations and reimbursement challenges. 


Working Together Works Better


The rebrand initiative sought to develop a brand system and visual design language to support a marketing communications platform that speaks to the great range of challenges facing physiatrists. As we began the collaborative rebranding process, we completed a situational assessment that helped recognize and understand the category’s barriers in today’s complicated healthcare environment. The brand needed to address physician pain points, from feeling overwhelmed and short on resources to needing accurate, personalized and timely communications. In addition, members wanted AAPM&R to embrace its value as the specialty’s representative and a resource provider for their practices. Members also wanted to see themselves represented within the organization through their own stories, interests and experiences.


To understand the member perspective, 50,000feet conducted an in-depth communications audit and stakeholder interviews, membership survey and analysis and facilitated a workshop, leading to an audience-driven brand strategy and architecture.


One For All


Informed by the brand strategy, we refined the manifesto and messaging and refreshed the identity for the Academy. The brand’s position shifted from a staid bureaucracy to a member-driven community. We articulated and envisioned a future of AAPM&R as the leading medical association focused on advancing the practice of PM&R across all clinical areas and practice settings by providing resources for community building, ongoing education, advocacy and practice development. 


To demonstrate the diversity central to the mission of the organization, we introduced a flexible collection of ampersand symbols to the identity. The kinetic nature of the system expressed the bold, dynamic thinking of the Academy across its membership. We then explored its use through applications across print collateral, publication design, out-of-home, social media, website and email templates and codified the identity in a brand guideline so their in-house team could apply the system to ongoing communications. This cohesive and consistent system will support the organization in the next phases of their goals and enable them to communicate with global members across their many specialties, practices, platforms and channels.