By: Janis Peiser
As a dentist, you probably know that patient experience is everything. From the ease of scheduling appointments to the interactions patients have with staff, and from clinical effectiveness to payment procedures, the way that patients experience your services determines the likelihood of them coming back for more. It also defines the conversation around your practice — whether patients talk about you in a positive or negative light.
What you probably didn’t realize is that the impression your business leaves on patients is essentially your brand. It defines who you are, and crucially, why it matters to patients.
Why Branding Is Important to Your Marketing
Your brand is the expression of everything that you stand for — your values, promises, consistency, quality, and trustworthiness. In simple terms, it’s the dental practice equivalent of personality.
Branding is not the same as marketing, although the terms are often interlinked. Marketing is a tangible communication about your services and products. Branding is more subtle. It’s the way you express yourself through every area of your business, from the communications you put out to the services you offer, your decor, language and imagery, and the behavior of your team.
Good branding allows patients to connect emotionally with your practice because they share the same beliefs and values. Done well, it can lead to patient loyalty, advocacy, and referrals. A powerful branding strategy can even protect your prices against competition — and make all the difference between gaining and losing patients.
How to Create a Memorable Brand
Your brand image is more than a fancy website, clever copywriting, and an eye-catching logo; these things are not enough to connect you to your community. With that in mind, here are some tips for developing an irresistible brand identity for your dental practice:
Start With the Patient
Effective branding speaks directly to the needs and desires of your patients. Ask yourself, what type of patients do you want to attract? How do they feel about visiting their dentist? What do they want and need to make the experience better? Powerful branding communicates to the needs, attitudes, and tastes of the patient, not the practice.
Determine Your Value Added
What’s unique about your practice that delivers value to your patients? Are you a value-for-money, community-based practice? An upmarket boutique practice? Are you a leading expert in certain areas of dentistry or technology? Do you have a unique service regarding location, hours, staff excellence or hygiene expertise? What about your ethics? Are there values you will never compromise? Whatever issue you choose to compete upon, it must be the single outcome that your patients can expect every time they interact with your office. Your brand effectiveness relies on you consistently delivering your value added.
Develop a Clear Visual Identity
A clear visual identity includes the name, tagline, logo, imagery, colors, typography and language you use to convey the practice’s promises, personality, and values. All of these components should work in harmony to evoke a visceral reaction and align with the experience you’re trying to create. Keep it simple, timeless and cohesive. Any weak links will undermine the integrity of your brand.
Keep It Consistent
A brand isn’t a brand if your communications say one thing but the patient experiences something else. Make sure that your staff members are trained to deliver dependable in-office experiences, and that all your communications (website, brochures, ads, social media, blogs, letterheads) represent your brand. Remember, a few bad experiences can undermine your credibility and blow the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.
Strong branding can help you to build a reputation for outstanding quality, caring and service and transform patients into ambassadors who will spread the word about your practice. Deliver your branding strategy consistently, and the reward will be consistent practice growth.
For more information on how to grow your practice, contact the dental CPAs at Goldin Peiser & Peiser.