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Innovation By Design

Zocdoc's New Identity Puts A Friendly Face On Health Care

The OpenTable of doctor's appointments gets a new logo that tries to make health care seem more human.

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Twenty years ago, you found a doctor by asking a friend or another doctor for a recommendation. Today, at least one in two Internet users searches for his next doctor online. It's convenient, sure, but it also depersonalizes an important, deeply intimate decision. How do you make such an abstract interaction seem more human?

First founded in 2007, Zocdoc is one of the oldest sites on the web for finding and scheduling doctor's appointments online. Its logo, though, was hardly personal. In fact, it was a bit of a joke: an $80 logo that literally looked like "ZocDoc" typed in Helvetica in a word processor. (It has since been restylized without the capital 'D') "We got what we paid for," laughs Richard Fine, Zocdoc's vice president of marketing. Six hundred employees and millions of patients later, and that $80 logo is looking more and more like an 80-cent logo. That's why today, the OpenTable of doctor's appointments is unveiling a new identity. Designed by international brand consultancy Wolff Olins, the new Zocdoc aims to break ranks with the anonymous, dehumanizing health care industry by giving it a friendly face.

Center-focus in the new Zocdoc identity is Zee, an anthropomorphic logo that combines the letter "Z" with a human face. Placed upon a yellow background, Zee is Zocdoc's official logo, but it can also be used in other branding contexts: for example, as a friendly face on a Zocdoc welcome page, an editable avatar for a user's Zocdoc profile page, or as an animated mascot for a Zocdoc ad. Wolff Olins's creative director Lisa Smith describes Zee as just as much a "playful friend" as a logo. "Zee was designed to be emotive and human, expressing different facial expressions," she says. "Something as simple as a wink is something every human can respond to."

Designing a logo that users could identify with was important, says Zocdoc's Fine, because patients often feel as if they are faceless within the health care system. "People aren't just patients when they're sitting in a doctor's office in a paper gown," he says. "They're patients when they are talking to an insurance company on the phone, or scheduling an MRI" ... or even searching Zocdoc for a new primary care physician. Zocdoc, he says, is all about making patients feel humanized in different contexts, when they're not actually face-to-face with a doctor. And Zee is a reflection of that.

Zocdoc extends that sense of warmth to the color scheme, which is dominated by a sunny yellow: think something similar to McDonald's golden arches, or the color of Snapchat's icon. What makes it such a compelling choice is that yellow is a color that basically just doesn't exist in health industry branding, where blues and greens dominate. "Health care is inherently a conservative industry, and blue is the most conservative brand color," Fine says.

The animated Zee logo might not be to everyone's taste. To my eyes, it has a European feel, almost like a French cartoon character, which may be too abstract for some. Even so, the new Zocdoc identity is a breath of fresh air in the health care space. Consider what that abstract yellow face represents—the patient, for a change, and not the doctor. That's rare in health care websites, which put smiling doctors and nurses on every page, doing their best to humanize them, while treating their patients as perpetually faceless. Zocdoc's new identity might not be for everyone, and some might fault it in the details. But at least it's human.

All Images: via Zocdoc

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