Does your practice have a brand?
If you answered anything other than ‘yes’ to the above question… then you are mistaken.
Every dental practice has a brand (whether you like it or not) – the key questions are: do you know what your brand is? And: are you in control of it?
Branding is probably one of the most misunderstood areas of business, particularly for small companies (by the way, it’s not your logo – your logo is a signifier of your brand, a visual stimulus to remind people what your brand is).
So, what is brand?
Your brand is the physical and public manifestation of everything that you stand for. It’s everything you do, but, more importantly, it’s the way that you do it. 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
- The products and services you offer
- The behaviour of your team and how they interact with each other and your customers
- And the communications you put out – your marketing materials, your website, etc.
How do you take control of your brand?
The first thing to take on board is that you need to be true to yourself. Your brand has to be believable and credible – otherwise cracks will soon appear. Don’t try to be something that you’re not.
Here are a few of the key steps in developing a successful and sustainable brand for your practice.
- Positioning: 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? The clearer picture you paint, the easier it is to develop your brand around it
- Personality: how do you want the personality of your practice to come across? Warm, friendly and engaging? Cool, funky and creative? Serious, considered and academic? This decision will be partly informed by the patients that you want to attract
- Key messages: think of the important messages that you want existing and potential patients to understand about your practice, your services and your approach.
Bring it to life
Once you have a clear understanding of the three areas above, the challenge now is to communicate your brand positioning clearly and consistently to all stakeholders (staff, suppliers and patients) and to bring it to life in everything you do and where you do it.
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.
The essence of what the brand stands for should permeate through all of the areas listed before – the environment, the behaviours, the products and services, and the marketing and communication materials. Any weak links will undermine the brand integrity of your practice.
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.
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