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Monday, November 4, 2013

Your Brand Is A Valuable Asset. Manage It Well. (Part 1)

by: Dan Pisek, Practice Marketing Coach

It’s 10 a.m. and you are craving a cup of coffee. Right across the street all lined up in a row are Tim Horton’s, Starbucks and McDonald’s. Which do you choose and for what reason?

I have presented many seminars and workshops where I start with this coffee choice scenario. The Tim Horton’s devotees choose to go there because they associate the brand with convenience and serving a good cup of coffee at a fair price. For the Starbucks crowd, they are fine with paying a little more for a premium cup of coffee and an experience which helps them boost their own image just by carrying the white and green cup around town. McDonald’s is usually the loser in my audience opinion poll. People comment on how it is a very good cup of coffee, convenient to get, and how you can’t beat the price… especially when it’s free. But even with the McCafe experience, people still associate McDonald’s with “would you like fries with that?” It’s a prime example of the power of branding and how it can really support or work against your business goals.

While the coffee business these days is very competitive, so is the world of dentistry. Let’s face it, in most places you don’t have to look too hard to find a dental office. Dr. John Doe DDS, Main Street Family Dental, and Dentistry on Main are there in a row competing for your attention. Now, more and more dentists are realizing that an effectively branded practice is a key component to their success when getting started with a new office, growing their existing practices or getting their practices ready to deliver a larger sale price when it comes time to retire. What is a brand? It’s the personality your practice would have if it were a human being. It’s what people think of when they hear your practice name or see your logo. In the consumer’s eye, the expectation is for you to provide great care on the clinical side of things. Much of it is about the personality of your practice. Do you project the image of a progressive-minded practice and what will you provide by way of patient experience? Effective branding of your practice is about effectively communicating who you are as a practice to set yourself apart from the competition. Ignite your practice brand. Just like you want a strong foundation to build your home on, you want a strong foundation to build your marketing on. After all, everything that you do to market your practice is an extension of your brand. There are three key areas to consider to effectively brand your practice:

1. Your name. Just using your name to identify your practice does very little to tell people anything about what you are as a practice, where you are located, the type of dentistry you provide or anything about the patient experience that they can expect. Cobblestone Family Dentistry immediately speaks to the young families living in the Cobblestone Plaza neighborhood  Also, today communities comprise a mixed cultural diversity and keeping last names out of the practice name also keep the practice culturally neutral. A depersonalized practice is also better positioned for growth, especially when hiring associates. Patients make an appointment to see one of the great dentists at Cobblestone Family Dentistry and don’t feel short-changed that they aren’t seeing the dentist whose name is on the door.

2. Your logo. It’s important to have the right look for how your practice name is presented. Just like the Apple or the Nike swoosh, you want a logo that your customers will associate immediately with your practice and be part of the emotional reaction to the brand.

3. Your website. Nowadays, so many buying decisions are made on the Internet, including healthcare choices. Your brand must translate well to your website. Image is everything here. Even if you start off with a very simple splash-page, be sure that it is in tune with your brand. You can always add to the website as the practice grows.

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