Anne-Marie Lloyd-Jones from DPAS Dental Plans looks at how developing your practice brand could help you build a more effective leadership style.
Why does branding matter?
Branding matters because it allows you to decide on the values that underpin your business and your practice culture. By managing your brand, you are more likely to be able to influence how the outside world perceives your practice. You might even find your authority as a leader is enhanced – but more of that later.
Most dental practices today have a logo. It could be located on the clinic exterior, the website, on practice stationery, or all three. It could also be on uniforms, pens and mouthguard boxes. There are multiple ways of making your logo visible.
While we can all get excited about corporate colours and slogans, the logo is merely a graphic symbol, it is not your brand. It’s a very visual prompt to the culture, standards and feelings that your brand experience delivers and whilst crucial to get right, it is only one small detail in an overall branding exercise. Defining what that symbol represents is one of the chief undertakings when branding a business.
Developing your brand values
The first priority is to define your business goal or strategy. One of the most common things we hear from practices is that they want to be recognised as the ‘best practice in the area’. But, what’s sometimes lacking is what this actually means; what it translates into. How do patients assess you? How can excellence be reflected in the practice environment or your communications?
It might be helpful to set out the key branding considerations and cross-reference them with your strategy in order to set standards:
- The treatments and products on offer
- How the branding will work in the practice – what do your treatment rooms and reception look like?
- The practice culture – how do your staff behave?
- The brand values and how they are communicated – through your website, brochures, signage, etc.
My advice would be to get the whole team on board. By engaging them in the decision making, they can help define the standards you set and will then be able to represent them to your patients. Setting out a consistent approach to each of these considerations creates your brand and with it, your brand values.
How can this help you become a more effective leader?
Once these standards have been defined, no matter what you are doing or where you are, you are more likely to be in control of how the practice team communicates to the outside world. It’s a great example of how sharing your concerns as a business owner can make the team feel more empowered and integrated.
This is where branding can help you to develop a more effective leadership style too. An extended team meeting is a good opportunity for everyone to reflect and define what it is the practice stands for. Your colleagues may identify qualities like clinical excellence and customer care.
You will need to ensure that you input into the discussions since you too will need to be adopting the standards and values that are being defined. It will be your job to lead by example. Hopefully, these discussions may go further and deeper and inspire a renewed enthusiasm for delivering a great service.
However, we are all human and let’s say that over time, a member of your team fails to conform to the standards that have been set as part of the brand values. This is an opportunity to reference the branding values and to demonstrate how this team member can improve their performance. You can communicate that they are falling short of the standards that have been agreed by everyone, making it less of a ‘personal’ issue between you and that team member and an easier conversation to have. They are not just letting you down but their colleagues and the practice too.
On the other hand, when a team member is performing really well and doing everything to help reflect the brand values, it’s a way of recognising and rewarding their efforts. Used properly, your brand can underpin your practice strategy and assist in team development.
Your brand should be the focus of everything you do within your practice. It helps you remember that you are not just providing dental services – although obviously, that’s critical – but they must be complemented by great customer service, efficiency and good, old-fashioned bedside manner.
So, get engaged with the choice of logo, but remember, if this is not underpinned by branding values and all that goes with the exercise, then it’s a hollow exercise. Visibility without substance means you are not exploiting the investment you have made in your brand.
DPAS is a specialist provider of dental plans for your practice and patients, offering everything the team needs to implement and promote plans effectively. For further information, visit www.dpas.co.uk, email [email protected] or call 01747 870910.