Brand Influence

Some of the most successful and well-known healthcare organizations have strong branding. Think Ronald McDonald and the Ronald House or even just name recognition like Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Duke Medical or the Centers for Disease Control. For this assignment, you will read a case study on the Cleveland Clinic and the evolution of its branding along with the organizational impact of marketing.

One example of a successful branding initiative is the one developed by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. The outcome of its efforts demonstrates what branding can do for a healthcare organization and how a small outpatient practice can be transformed into a national brand.

Establishing a Brand

The Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by for veterans of World War I medical units and is now a leading American healthcare organization. From its start, the clinic was highly regarded for the quality of its specialty care, basic science research, and medical innovations. The clinic’s initial marketing approach — typical of healthcare organizations in the pre-marketing era — targeted the physician audience in an effort to increase patient referrals. Promotional activities consisted of developing and distributing fundraising brochures and disseminating press releases to the media.

In the 1990s, the clinic realized that healthcare consumers were looking for a trusted brand name and thus expanded its market research. This research indicated that local consumers highly respected the name Cleveland Clinic, so the organization focused on maintaining and protecting its brand through an integrated marketing effort. The 1990s also marked a period of hospital mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry, and the clinic played a significant role in this development. Over a two-year period, it merged with 10 local Community Hospitals and formed the Cleveland Clinic Health System. The formation of this system presented a challenge in that the clinic had to decide how much it could share its brand identity without diluting it.

To address this challenge, the clinic established a four-tiered marketing approach that applied to all organizations using the Cleveland Clinic brand. Tier 1 members represent the core organizations– the conservators of the brand and the directors of all marketing efforts. Tier 2 members include entities owned by the clinic but that have their own brand equity; in their advertisements, they are allowed to use only the words “Cleveland Clinic Health System” in half size under their own hospital name. Tier 3 includes clinic departments housed in hospitals the clinic does not own. They are not part of the clinic or the system, and the appropriate relationships are outlined in the advertising; they are prohibited from using the Cleveland Clinic name, logo, or tagline. Finally, Tier 4 includes organizations to which the clinic belongs. In these relationships, the clinic’s logo may be used only in visual arrangement with the logos of other participating hospitals.

As this case shows, the Cleveland Clinic has been successful in supporting the integrity of its brand while extending the Brand’s positive image to other entities without diluting existing brand equity. Although not all healthcare organizations can be expected to have the same success as the clinic, the case illustrates how, with sound marketing intelligence and thoughtful planning, a successful branding initiative can be undertaken.

Adapted from: Thomas (2015). Marketing Health Services.

After reading this case study, please answer the questions below using complete sentences and supporting documentation.

Case Study Questions:

  • What were the factors and motivators that prompted the Cleveland Clinic to identify the need for a brand to represent the organization?
  • Consider the 4 tiers noted by the Cleveland Clinic and discuss the organizational impact of the brand on each tier.
  • The Cleveland Clinic discusses the importance of protecting the brand. What does protecting the brand mean and why is it important.
  • How does the brand influence their marketing strategy?
  • Identify a healthcare organization in your area that utilizes brand recognition in their marketing strategy and summarize the organization and their marketing efforts.


  • Your responses should be thorough, well-conceived college-level responses that are grammatically correct.
  • Justify your responses with facts and details from your research and reading.
  • Include an APA-formatted reference page and in-text citations.
  • Write your answers using complete sentences.

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