A good name is a blessing and a curse. Once you have it, you have to work to keep it.
Mayo Clinic is struggling with how to use its prestigious name without diminishing its value.
"When you have a name that has been built up over a 100-year history, you've got to be careful how that is used," said Marketing Director Kent Seltman. "Brand management is an issue that is at the highest level of the corporation."
One way Mayo profits from its name is Mayo Medical Ventures, a for-profit company created in 1985. It publishes consumer medical books, CD-ROM educational tools and a health letter under the Mayo name.
Revenues help fund research and education at the clinic, Seltman said. Mayo would only say that revenues from the company don't exceed 3% of the clinic's total revenues, or $52.8 million.
Mayo has been careful in using its name as its builds a local network within 120 miles of its Rochester, Minn., clinic. Since 1992, Mayo has been acquiring physician practices and hospitals. Affiliates kept their names in most cases, and the Mayo Health System name goes underneath.
Mayo wants to keep the clinic distinct from the health system. More than half the clinic's patients travel more than 120 miles because of its top-notch reputation.
"We're known as a referral center, and we think it's important to keep that brand identity a distinct feature for the Rochester practice as well as for the practices in Scottsdale (Ariz.) and Jacksonville (Fla.)," Seltman said.
"Use of our name has to be seen in a strategic context, in a way that we haven't seen it before."