The Exchange by Any Other Name

Now there are four.

At yesterday’s meeting of the state’s Health Benefit Exchange board, Chris Kelly, the exchange’s senior advisor for marketing and outreach, presented the four finalists in the project to pick a new name for the exchange — the name that will be used to market the exchange’s choices and services.

“We brought forward about 13 names last time [at the Aug. 23 board meeting],” Kelly said, “including Wellquest and, of course, Avocado — that is still a crowd favorite.”

Kelly prefaced his presentation by reiterating that each proposed name includes a marketing package with a unique logo and tagline — “a voice of its own,” as Kelly put it.

“We conducted focus groups last week, we did six of them, total, and we tried to get every socioeconomic group,” he said. “And out of that list came a short list of names.”

Four of them, to be exact:

  • Covered, CA
  • CaliHealth
  • Ursa
  • Eureka

Kelly said the list would be cut down to one or two names (“Three, max,” he said) by Monday.

After his presentation, there was a short, board-wide silence  … broken by board member Kim Belshé.

“How can I not say something?” Belshé asked. “Look, I brought my avocado.”

Belshé put an avocado on the table, a symbol of her favorite choice for the new name. 

“The point I was trying to make was this is an important decision for us,” Belshé said. “I was delighted to sit in on three of the focus groups last week, and I want to acknowledge the qualitative and quantitative effort that has gone into this decision.”

Belshé noted that the Avocado concept did not make the final name cut. “But it’s not about what we may or may not like,” she said, “it’s about what’s memorable. I will happily eat this avocado tonight. I will not mourn the removal of Avocado from this list.”

“I was going to ask if Guacamole was tested,” board member Robert Ross said.

That actually did come up at the focus group meetings, Belshé said. “Interestingly, several people said ‘Guacamole, that’s expensive!’ That was not good.”

Exchange board executive director Peter Lee said focus group participants had mixed reactions to all of the names. “But we had a common reaction to the idea of the exchange,” Lee said, “whatever we call it. There is huge interest and excitement about this. And the opportunity to be involved in the birthing of it, well, the excitement in the room was palpable.”

Once the name choices are whittled down to two names next week, a trademark review will be conducted, and two to three logos will be designed for each name by the start of October. After more focus group testing in mid-October, the final revisions to the logo design should be done by the end of October, Kelly said.

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