Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business but it is probably one of the most misunderstood areas, particularly for small companies.
A common mistake is thinking that it is just your logo – it’s not. Your logo signifies your brand, it isn’t ‘your brand’. It is a visual stimulus to remind people of what your brand is. So, with this in mind – what is brand?
Your brand is the physical and public display of everything that you stand for – internally and externally. It’s everything you do, but, more importantly, it’s the way that you do it. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be. In essence, your brand is the business equivalent of an individual’s personality.
Your brand covers every area of your business…
• The physical environment – the décor, the layout of the practice.
• The products and services you offer to your patients.
• The behaviour of your team and how they interact with each other and your patients.
• The communications you put out – your marketing materials, your website, etc.
Do it well and a defined brand will attract patients who are able to connect emotively to your dental practice because they share the same values and beliefs in your brand. Which in turn will lead to loyalty, advocacy and can even protect your prices against competition.
Firstly, be true to yourself and your dental practice. Your brand has to be believable, consistent and credible – otherwise, cracks will soon appear. Don’t try to be something that you’re not. To develop a sustainable and successful brand for your dental practice, consider these areas.
This is something that your patients can relate to. How do you want your dental practice to come across? Academic, serious and considered? Engaging, warm, friendly? Cool, funky and creative? Remember, this decision will be partly informed by the patients that you want to attract.
Developing clear positioning of your practice is one of the foundation stones of your brand. How do you want people to perceive your practice – are you a specialist in a certain area of dentistry? Are you a community-based, family practice? Are you a modern, upmarket city practice? Understand your patients’ needs. The clearer picture you paint, the easier it is to develop your practice brand around it.
Your key messages
Think of the important messages that you want existing and potential patients to understand about your practice, your services and your approach.
Once you have a clear understanding of the three areas above, the challenge now is to communicate your brand clearly and consistently to all stakeholders (your dental team, suppliers and patients) and to bring it to life in everything you do and where you do it.
The essence of your brand should infiltrate through all of the areas listed above – your environment, your behaviours, your products and services, and your marketing and communication materials. Any weak links will undermine the brand integrity of your practice.
Therefore, consistency is the key to a successful brand. Everyone in the practice has to ‘get it’ and ‘live it’. And, if you are the practice owner or manager, your role is to constantly reinforce the brand values and how they should be delivered at all times.
At Practice Plan, we believe in supporting, developing and growing the brands of all of our clients. That’s why when you have a membership plan with us, it is presented to your patients via your brand, not ours. It’s something that we’ve always felt passionate about – after all, it’s your practice, not ours.
Les Jones is the marketing director at Practice Plan and also the editor of The Business of Dentistry Magazine.