Most prefer to think of reputation. That's different. You throw out a name at someone, they nod, and that's a good reputation.
They throw a name at you, that's branding.
Individuals like Rusty Hardin can build personal brands, based on their reputation, but the test of that branding comes only after they're gone, and you try to franchise the brand. That's what the late Johnnie Cochran is trying now.
Increasingly hospitals want to become brands. One way to do this is through specialization. Cancer Treatment Centers of America had enough branding mojo to get a law changed in Georgia yesterday which kept them out of the state.
Another way to build a brand is to just get big and slap your name on whatever you own. Humana and Tenet do this. But those brands are no bigger than the companies involved. Sell the buildings, slap another name on, and that brand is just as big.
A third way to build a brand, much discussed at HIMSS this week, involves building your reputation in several directions, so people will think of you first when they get sick.
Technology is an important factor in this kind of brand-building.
Right now the branding here is similar to that of Rusty Hardin, whose brand began this post. If the face seems familiar, he's Roger Clemens' lawyer. He has other big name clients. Big name clients make for a big name lawyer.
The question is whether Mayo or Cleveland might want to take this to the next level, as the late Mr. Cochran did. (You doubtless remember him from the O.J. Simpson case -- if it doesn't fit you must acquit.)
There are many ways in which this could happen. The clinics might extend their technology footprint. They might become the face of a Web effort aimed at building trust in, say, Personal Health Records.
Or they could credential affiliates. Go through a hospital or clinic, make certain it has the same quality of care their name is known for, then slap the name up there. Mayo Clinic of Atlanta, Cleveland Clinic of Sarasota. Franchises, man.
Is this imminent? No. Is it possible? Yes.
Once you have a big time brand anything becomes possible.