And Now, A Word from Our Competitors

The late-morning session featured James Blazar and Marilyn Wilker from Cleveland Clinic. Their presentation was entitled “Branding as a Key Strategy for Success in Healthcare.”

Cleveland Clinic’s brand position is “Complete Confidence.” A brand is a promise. A pact between an organization and its audience. Strong brands uphold the promise at every customer interaction. An organization has a responsibility to fulfull this promise or risk the consequences (e.g. Firestone). A brand influences business systems, processes and policies. An example was Hampton Inn, where they gave a night’s stay free to someone kept awake by a youth softball team.

Brands matter because they provide meaningful differentiation, create a preference and reinforce an experience. If it can work for water, it should work for healthcare.

Cleveland Clinic’s re-branding was initiated by a change in leadership, growth of organization, marketplace changes and a new strategic plan. Their goal was to close the gap between their brand’s power and those of Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins. They mentioned that Toby Cosgrove, their CEO, stopped doing surgery in December 2006. They bought the naming rights to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice facilities, which are called Cleveland Clinic Courts, because LeBron James is the second-most recognizable athlete in China.
Mr. Blazar described the Brand Driver Workshop process they undertook, which led to their choice of Complete Confidence as their brand platform.

Complete Confidence is the opposite of the fear people feel when faced with life-threatening illness. Brand characteristics they emphasize are: understated confidence and leadership, compassion and comfort, approachability and professionalism.

They changed their logo typography and simplified it to make it more contemporary. To get it through their approval processes, they showed how other organizations like Shell Oil, IBM and NBC had changed their logos over time…and that their beloved logo had not been handed down on stone tablets.

They developed a Brand Architecture to create a clear, organized system of brands. It’s similar to what Mayo Clinic does. Principles: Keep it simple, keep a customer perspective, align architecture with business strategy, minimize levels and keep it clear. Their ad agency implementation/tag line is “Find the confidence to face any condition at Cleveland Clinic” in the Letters to Tomorrow campaign. They have done a national cable TV buy for their ads (which I’ve seen.) We saw four of their ads, which were very well done, but didn’t seem to fit the “understated” part of their goal when the tag line said “World Leader” or “#1.” At Mayo Clinic we let others say “world renowned” and don’t say it ourselves.
Results: National awareness has increased from 62-71 percent, and awareness of advertising has increase (I think it was from 16 percent to 22 percent, but I may have that wrong.) Income generated from patients who have responded to the advertising is between $1.2-1.6 million. Calls have come from all 50 states, and the campaign has positively impacted philanthropy.

In response to questions, we learned that their marketing budget is 3 percent of their overall revenue, and that the consultanting firm fee for the re-branding was several hundred thousand dollars. They did not disclose the size of their advertising buy. It would be interesting to know whether the advertising has been directly profitable, although I don’t doubt it has helped in branding.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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