Miss Details takes pride in supporting local businesses to better carry out their remarkable missions through strategic branding. This article is the latest in our Client Features series, which shines the spotlight on some of the gifted entrepreneurs we work with.
Specialized Care: From inspiration to business
Years before we talked about “essential workers”, Russ Burnham recognized the integral role firefighters and police officers play in our society. He also recognized that their extraordinary efforts required extraordinary healthcare. That was the impetus behind Front Line Mobile Health, which offers comprehensive medical care, including occupational medical and psychological evaluations, to public safety professionals.
A military veteran, Russ first learned the importance of specialized medical care while working as an Army flight surgeon. “It really changed my outlook that these specialized occupations need a different type of care and evaluation than the general population,” he said.
So, when a fire chief approached Russ about providing similar services for fire departments, Russ was intrigued.
“He said, ‘We’ve been trying to find someone for ten years that actually knows what they’re doing,’” Russ recalled.
They decided to give the idea a shot—and Front Line Mobile Health was born. In its early years, Front Line exclusively served firefighters, and for a while, the profession’s tight-knit community largely eschewed the need for formal marketing.
“In public safety, if you do a good job, all the fire chiefs will tell each other, so our business just grew by word of mouth,” Russ said.
But by 2020, Russ recognized the need for some professional assistance to continue spreading the good word about Front Line’s services. At the same time, he saw a practical need for a brand refresh: an increased audience, due to popular demand.
“Over two and a half years, I kept getting asked about cops,” he said. “I realized public safety was cops and firefighters, and we were only serving firefighters, and there was a huge opportunity to help police officers out as well.”
To communicate that change to his loyal audience, Russ needed a full-on brand redesign. That’s where Miss Details came in.
Lightening Up: A fresh design for a new audience
Anytime a brand adjusts their target audience, it requires lots of behind-the-scenes work to make sure every aspect of the brand reflects the change. In Front Line’s case, that meant a more neutral design.
“When I started Front Line, we were only catering to fire,” Russ explained. “So even the logo was a red hat, and everything was very dark and masculine. When we started serving police officers, I knew we had to change the brand and be more neutral.”
It was then that another member of the Front Line team introduced Russ to Tanya Gagnon of Miss Details, who was more than up to the challenge.
“I noticed no other health care agencies had that dark feel to their website,” Russ said. “I asked Tanya to lighten things up, and to make things more neutral and not fire-specific.”
Together, Russ and Tanya found inspiration for Front Line’s new brand identity within the company’s veteran-owned status.
“A lot of my friends and employees went to West Point,” Russ said. “And, in general, a lot of public safety comes from the military. West Point’s school colors are very neutral, still masculine but not overt, and they’re the color of gunpowder. It was a good neutral palette to start reworking from, because it wasn’t overtly fire or police but it still had a tie to the military, and a tie to us.”
The new design was a hit, and Russ found that Tanya’s careful and attentive work even brought the unexpected benefit of setting Front Line apart in its industry. “You can tell our competitors don’t really value graphic design to the level that I do,” Russ said. “I told Tanya from the very beginning that it had to be amazing.”
In addition to their shared appreciation for detail-oriented, impactful graphic design, Russ and Tanya found another similarity that makes them a powerful team. Miss Details is all about balance—between the details and the big picture, between art and science, between creativity and order. Meanwhile, built deep into Front Line’s brand is a careful and effective balance between two other apparent opposites: data and humanity.
Unique Positioning: Drawing out the data
If you take a look at Front Line Mobile Health’s website, one of the first terms you’ll come across is “data-driven.” There’s a reason for that: An emphasis on collecting and utilizing all available data is integral to Front Line’s treatment approach.
“We call it triangulating the medical threat,” explained Russ. “We use multiple pieces of data to get after something that’s very concerning for a patient’s long-term health and wellness.”
To further illuminate the philosophy behind Front Line’s process, Russ used the example of fatty liver disease—a common but treatable illness. Front Line uses several different pieces of data in conjunction with one another to determine if a patient has the disease, including visceral fat levels (measured by a body composition machine), liver ultrasounds, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and more. When it comes time to communicate the results to the patient, Russ does so in an easily digestible way.
“We take all those data points and actually draw on a piece of paper,” he said. “We say, ‘Here was your ultrasound, and here was your visceral fat level, and here were your liver enzymes, and here was your cholesterol,’ and then in the middle I draw a picture of a liver so the patient knows what we’re talking about.”
Using multiple data points—triangulation—is critical not only to achieving accurate results, but to formulating an effective treatment plan.
“If you were to take any one of the data points I gave you in isolation, you might realize the patient has fatty liver disease,” Russ said. “But then: What stage is it? How serious is it? You can’t do that without multiple data points.”
This triangulation isn’t only an effective medical strategy—it’s a remarkably strong brand positioning strategy for the Front Line brand. Russ noticed a special opportunity for this during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since public safety services couldn’t shut down during the pandemic, many of Russ’s clients were at heightened risk for contracting COVID-19, and weren’t receiving the medical support they needed from their doctors.
“They were getting lost in the system,” Russ said. “And so we used COVID as an opportunity to step into that space and be a voice of reason, and try to link it all together.”
Russ explained that, for instance, a firefighter who had previously contracted COVID-19 may deal with ongoing respiratory problems after they otherwise recover. They may see their primary care doctor for assistance, who may send them to a pulmonologist to look at their lungs, who may send them to a cardiologist to look at their heart—who may send them all the way back to their primary care doctor.
“We realized nobody was linking, nobody was triangulating what was going on,” Russ said.
So, when Front Line began performing post-COVID evaluations, they brought their signature triangulation to the table.
“We threw a net wide and deep, and then spent the time going through the results with the person and explaining that to them,” Russ said.
This speaks to the second, and perhaps even more important, piece of the Front Line brand: their empathetic, human-centered approach.
Adding Emotion: Methodical doesn’t mean uncaring
Front Line’s emphasis on testing and data collection may initially alarm some patients. After all, no one likes to feel like a lab rat, constantly being poked and prodded. But when coupled with a strong dose of humanity and a high level of relatability, Front Line’s data-driven approach comes across as caring, not cold. In fact, the data collection stems in part from a desire to ensure that every person is aware of their health—even if there’s nothing “wrong.”
“When you’re perfectly healthy, a lot of times you’ll go to the doctor and they’ll say, ‘You’re good, no problems, have a nice day,’” Russ said. “We decided we weren’t going to treat people that way. If we did the test on you, you deserve to know what the test said, even if you’re not at risk for developing some sort of disease.”
Front Line’s status as a veteran-owned company also helps to put patients at ease during medical evaluations. Although not all public service workers are veterans, there is a significant overlap between the two populations, which provides a common frame of reference. This is particularly important when it comes to discussing mental health, as part of what makes up a police officer or firefighter’s regular working day could be considered deeply traumatic.
“I’ve heard of firefighters or cops going to see doctors or psychologists, and essentially their stories break the doctor or the psychologist,” Russ said. “But they understand that we, as veterans, have been through some stuff, meaning we hear about their stories about when bad things have happened, and those things don’t scare us.”
Front Line also humanizes the medical experience by encouraging patients to become actively involved in their own health. Russ asks patients about their health goals—something many of them have never had a doctor ask before. This also stems from a focus on prevention rather than treatment.
“A lot of times, patients say, ‘Nobody has ever asked me about my health goals before, I’m always just coming in here because I’m sick,” Russ said. “Our program is all about prevention. We say ‘awareness creates opportunity’, so if I can make you aware of what’s going on, I can give you new opportunities to make different decisions.”
This passion for raising awareness about health informed one of Front Line’s latest endeavors with Miss Details: their social media strategy.
Compassionate Strategy: Building a community, not a customer base
Russ readily admits that while he recognized the need for a social media presence, the idea didn’t exactly thrill him. “I personally hate it,” he said. “I hired someone else to do it because I don’t have the patience for it.”
That someone else was Tanya of Miss Details. And, just as he did during their brand refresh, Russ clearly communicated what he wanted out of Tanya’s services.
“I acknowledged that we needed a social media presence,” he said, “but I told Tanya very clearly that what I did not want was to pound our chest about what we were doing. I wanted to use social media as an opportunity to highlight our customers, or, more importantly, use it as an educational platform.”
Tanya was happy to oblige with Russ’s wishes. As it turns out, their social media strategy had dual benefits: It allowed Front Line to stay true to its core values of service and education, while further setting the brand apart from its competition. Russ had noticed many of Front Line’s competitors used social media to brag about their company’s own accomplishments.
“It always sat poorly with me,” Russ said. “New departments signing up with you doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job. If that’s all you’re posting about, how are you giving back? What kind of research are you doing? How are you pushing the needle forward to improve health and safety for public safety, besides just saying you have more customers?”
The Triple Threat: What Front Line’s story can teach us
There’s no one “right” way to build a brand—the most successful brands know it takes a combination of strategies. Front Line doesn’t just triangulate medical threats. It did the same for its branding, bringing together a love for hard data, an emphasis on community building and service, and a new strategic approach to graphic design and social media to build a more impactful brand.
Now, the organization hopes to continue expanding its reach so it can serve an even wider community. Through its work with Tanya, Front Line Mobile Health is working to build an online library of resources related to health and public safety. Russ looks forward to continuing Front Line’s partnership with Miss Details.
“Tanya has become such an integral part of the outward projection of our company,” he said, “and it’s been so great.”
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