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Cleveland Clinic

A Legacy of Innovation: Putting Heritage in the Spotlight To Launch Cleveland Clinic’s Forward-Looking Centennial

The Pinnacle of Healthcare Reaches a Pivotal Milestone

Cleveland Clinic, the second-ranked hospital in the world, approached its 100th anniversary with equally ambitious goals in mind. The academic and multispecialty healthcare system, with more than 72,000 caregivers and 21 hospitals worldwide, wanted to leverage the milestone to advance its enterprise strategy and narrative, celebrate caregivers and build pride across stakeholders.

Cleveland Clinic had an obvious place to begin developing a strategic theme for the centennial celebration—its history of innovation and research. The organization pioneered a team-based, patient-centered approach to care, leveraging the experience of its founding doctors, who worked as a unit during World War I. This created a culture of innovation that has led to accomplishments including the discovery of serotonin as a neurotransmitter and the world’s first reported coronary artery bypass surgery. Like many industry-advancing institutions, Cleveland Clinic proceeds with its eyes fixed on the future.

But the key to every anniversary is finding a way to connect an organization’s past to its future, and therein lay the challenge: taking Cleveland Clinic’s unique history and heritage and making it relevant and invigorating to all that lies ahead for the organization. While Cleveland Clinic’s leadership valued its heritage, aligning the organization’s past with its forward-looking, contemporary, modern brand was going to take a new perspective. 

Ultimately, throughout the nearly three-year engagement, History Factory provided Cleveland Clinic with the positioning, resources, stories and tactics necessary to achieve its goal of a centennial focused on its future and inspired by its past.

Using Cleveland Clinic’s Experience to Develop a Future-Forward Perspective

Based on its history of groundbreaking advancements, Cleveland Clinic has consistently proven itself to be at the vanguard of modern medicine. Everything the organization is working on today—including robotics, telemedicine and more—will be key to the future of healthcare. 

Delving into Cleveland Clinic’s history of innovation helped us contextualize the organization as it exists today, understand the inspiring role it will continue to play in the future, and develop a centennial theme incorporating all of these elements: “The Future of Healthcare Since 1921.” 

We created storylines and a content bank—including text, images, videos and sidebars—to support this theme and form the basis for a number of activations, including an anniversary website and a state-of-the-art interactive storytelling exhibit. 

After crafting the strategy that drove Cleveland Clinic’s global campaign, we worked in partnership with its many talented in-house and external partners, hosting an agency summit to share the anniversary content and framework and advising on a number of anniversary initiatives.

History Factory also consulted with Cleveland Clinic on how to leverage the anniversary to drive the organization forward at the highest institutional level. 

“The one thing we did learn through History Factory is really a key takeaway. We needed to take advantage of our anniversary to make changes that we felt were necessary within our organization. … [A]t the beginning of the year, our CEO rolled out an updated and new mission statement, and we took advantage of that to really ground everyone around our centennial.”
— Mary Beth Pate, Former Executive Director, Enterprise Marketing & Philanthropy Communications

A Milestone That Continues to Fuel the Future of Healthcare

While its anniversary took place in the midst of a global pandemic, Cleveland Clinic was still able to activate its plan in multiple ways.

“We were really grounded in our goal that we established upfront, and that was to globally leverage our 100th anniversary to advance our enterprise strategy and our care priorities.” — Mary Beth Pate

Ultimately, History Factory’s work gave Cleveland Clinic stakeholders the tools and resources to turn the organization’s centennial goal into a reality. The results speak for themselves:

  • More than $2.58 billion in donations to the centennial donation campaign
  • More than 2 billion impressions worldwide from the centennial content
  • A new mission statement for the organization

Additionally, the communications and marketing teams at Cleveland Clinic continue to draw on the robust content bank we crafted for material to use in internal and external communications.

Two exhibits that History Factory developed and installed also remain as lasting physical legacies of the anniversary. The first, a reconceptualization of an exhibit area in Founders Hall, connects the founders’ legacy with the future of healthcare. 

The second, an exhibit in the Miller Family Pavilion on the Cleveland Clinic main campus, draws visitors in with imagery of the forest where Cleveland Clinic’s founders strolled during World War I and first visualized the hospital and its style of care. The exhibit also allows visitors to immerse themselves in a collection of the organization’s stories and uses touchless technology to highlight content. In keeping with Cleveland Clinic’s emphasis on the healing power of art, the exhibit combines the organization’s storied history with a modern, contemporary aesthetic aimed at engaging visitors in a way that is consistent with the many art installations throughout the campus.

Our work in partnership with Cleveland Clinic will continue to deliver on the promise of leveraging the organization’s heritage to drive its new mission and create the future of healthcare.

“One of our goals is to use the centennial really to revive an active dialogue, the active memory of our history, and then keep that current and in front of our caregivers going forward.”
— Paul Matsen, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Want a future-facing anniversary campaign like the one we produced for one of the world’s top healthcare innovators? Drop us a line

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