Maryland Department of Health: MD COVID Alert
With 2 million downloads from an approximate population of 6 million people, the COVID Alert app is estimated to have prevented 4,000 cases of COVID-19.
ABOUT MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH (MDH)
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.
To support existing contact tracing efforts in notifying Marylanders who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, MDH employed an application for both Android and iPhone called MD COVID Alert.
MD COVID Alert used the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express system (a platform engineered by Apple and Google) and was created with the goal of reducing infections in Maryland.
IMPACT was contracted to promote MDH efforts by naming the app and developing visual branding, conducting research, developing messaging and creative assets, assisting with website optimization, and advertising the app through an omni-channel approach statewide.
This was yet another campaign for which we needed to act fast. IMPACT had less than two weeks to get the campaign up and running in time to support the November 10th go-live date of Maryland’s Exposure Notifications system.
Aside from the truncated launch scheduled, this campaign posed some unique communications challenges. Although the general technology behind the app is the same for Android phones and iPhones, the process for activating the system is very different: Android phones require an app download; iPhones do not (it is built into the operating system). Therefore, the call-to-action and conversion process is different depending on the brand of the target audience’s smartphone.
For our initial strategy, IMPACT performed qualitative research and solicited community partners and stakeholders to further understand how this campaign could be effective. Our team performed research on the population of Maryland to better understand the target audiences and the demographics of the state. Next, we began website updates and performed optimizations including:
- Developing content and art direction for landing pages
- Establishing various URLs, as needed, for purchase by DoIT or others
- Writing and editing FAQs, Contact Us info, and additional resources
- Composing all written copy
- Designing visual elements
Whereas the MDH logo needed to remain at the top of the brand hierarchy, this campaign required two additional “logos.” IMPACT developed a word mark to represent the primary product brand and an icon for use in the Google Play store. Our primary objective in this design exercise was to promote consistency and minimize confusion brought on by the complex nature of the app’s technology. Because the iPhone operating system already had an icon associated with it, IMPACT recommended against creating an entirely new visual look and feel. For the word mark, we paired the existing Exposure Notifications icon with Montserrat, the state’s primary font of choice. Since there was no other icon that Android users would see on their phones, we had a bit more room for creativity for the Google Play store app icon.
- We created a visual identity for Maryland’s contact tracing mobile application that was strategically designed to leverage – and build upon – existing brand equity.
- Apple wasn’t going to change their icon, and the process of turning on exposure notifications for iPhone users involved interacting with that icon.
- We wanted to help create a consistent flow through the entire user experience.
- A very calculated approach designed to maximize conversion.
We were successful. The campaign launched on schedule and racked up an impressive 1 million downloads/opt-ins in just the first two weeks.
Ultimately, COVID Alert was downloaded and activated 2 million times out of an approximate population of 6 million. It is estimated that 4,000 cases of COVID were averted.