Business Horizons (2007) 50, 199–209
Building a strong services brand: Lessons from
Leonard L. Berry a,⁎, Kent D. Seltman b
Mays Business School, Texas A & M University, 4112 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843–4112, USA Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA
Abstract A strong services brand is built and sustained primarily by customers’ interactions with the provider. A services branding model depicts the dynamics of brand creation. From the interrelationships among the presented brand, external communications, and customers’ experiences emerge brand awareness, meaning, and, ultimately, equity. The Mayo Clinic case study illustrates the services branding model by showing how one organization has created, extended, and protected a powerful brand through an unwavering commitment to the well-being of its customers. Managers outside of healthcare can benefit from three branding lessons embedded in the Mayo Clinic story: (1) attend to organizational values; (2) play defense, not just offense; and (3) turn customers into marketers. © 2007 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved.
1. Mayo Clinic: A brand to behold
Mayo Clinic has developed one of the most powerful
services brands in the world and, arguably, the
leading healthcare brand in the United States. In a
2003 national study, primary decision-makers in US
households were asked what healthcare institution
they would choose for themselves or a family member if insurance or finances would enable them to go anywhere for a serious medical problem such as
cancer treatment, heart surgery, or neurosurgery.
Responses were unaided and Mayo Clinic was not
identified as the study sponsor. As shown in Table 1,
Mayo Clinic was mentioned by nearly 19% of respondents, with an additional 8% including Mayo Clinic in ⁎ Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: BerryLe@tamu.edu (L.L. Berry),
firstname.lastname@example.org (K.D. Seltman).
a follow-up question asking for “other institutions”
they would consider. Preference for Mayo Clinic is
almost three times greater than for the secondranked institution (Mayo Clinic Brand Monitor, 2003).
The purpose of this article is to distill how Mayo
Clinic has built and sustained such a strong services
brand, and to suggest branding lessons managers in
other service organizations can glean from the Mayo
case study. The Mayo Clinic brand story is nothing
short of remarkable: the organization opened shop
more than 140 years ago in a small, isolated Minnesota town, had a one-person marketing staff from 1986 until 1992, and uses little media promotion to
this day (defying the commonly held assumption
that great brands require great advertising).
In undertaking our study, we begin by summarizing a generic model of services branding. Next, we present the Mayo Clinic case study, which illustrates
0007-6813/$ - see front matter © 2007 Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2007.01.005
L.L. Berry, K.D. Seltman
Total unaided brand preference for healthcare institutions
the model. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of
the lessons Mayo Clinic teaches us about services
2. Customer experience creates the brand
A services brand is essentially a promise about the
nature of a future experience with an organization
or individual service provider. Fig. 1, based on Berry
(2000), presents the relationships among the principal components of a services organization brand. The bold lines indicate primary influence and the
dotted lines, secondary influence.
The presented brand is the organization-controlled communication of a desired brand image. Advertising, brand name, logo, websites, employee
uniforms, and facilities design are among the...
References: Berry, L. L. (2000). Cultivating service brand equity. Journal of
the Academy of Marketing Science, 28(1), 128−137.
Berry, L. L. (2004). Leadership lessons from Mayo Clinic. Organizational Dynamics, 33(3), 228−242.
Berry, L. L., & Bendapudi, N. (2003). Clueing in customers. Harvard Business Review, 81(2), 100−106.
Berry, L. L., & Parasuraman, A. (1991). Marketing services: Competing through quality. New York: Free Press.
Butt, H. (2006, June 7). On-stage interview, public affairs conference. Rochester, MN: Mayo Clinic.
Keller, K. L. (1993). Conceptualization, measuring, and managing
customer-based brand equity
Mayo Clinic Brand Monitor. (2003, May). Random sample telephone
survey of 1000 households conducted by Millward Brown.
Mayo, W. J. (1910). The necessity of cooperation in medicine
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/
Patient Brand Monitor Study. (2003, 2001, 1999). Random sample
telephone survey of 600 Mayo Clinic patients conducted by
Richards, S. (1998, October 8). Building a brand. Presentation to
the Texas A and M University Center for Retailing Studies
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