When I ask this question, I’m rarely satisfied with the answer I receive. “I am getting a new website and a logo!” is typically the answer a dentist gives me. But those things are not ‘brands’. A brand is the personification of a product or service. A brand is the experience someone has when they deal with you, your business, your team members, through flyers, in person, on the phone, via email or on your website. A brand is what is going to set you apart from competitors. It allows you to survive and thrive in a competitive industry. It allows you to charge premiums and attract the types of patients you want. It embodies a set of rules/principles/values that your business holds dear and what it is known for. And once you figure out what your brand is, all of your marketing communication simply needs to embody and reinforce your brand.
Here are some EXTREME and FICTIONAL examples of brands that a dentist might have:
- The Male / Female Only Dental Practice
- The Dental Practice that looks like a Ferrari Dealership
- The Dental Practice For Wedding Couples
- The Dental Practice that looks like a Beach / Cottage
- The Dental Practice for kids where everything looks like Lego Land
I could go on.
The idea here is that you want to be able to describe your dental practice’s brand in a few words that are memorable and which can be socially transmitted by your patients and team members (i.e. associates, dental hygienists, assistants, front desk staff). If you have a dental practice that resembles a Ferrari Dealership, for example, certain types of patients who value that look/feel will flock to your office. Once there, they will see the typical things that OUGHT to be seen at a dealership: red walls, Ferrari posters, car magazines, car/racing paraphernalia, videos playing on the screens overhead about supercars like Ferraris. Your brand will be considered HIGH END + PERFORMANCE + LUXURY. Your team members will likely be younger, be wearing uniforms that make them look like race car drivers, etc. You will have the Ferrari of dental practices. Patients may receive iPods that have pre-programmed videos, pages, and other forms of entertainment/education about Ferraris and perhaps other supercars or the dental services you provide. The practice’s website and flyers/brochures would have a similar look and feel.
Now, when faced with a hypothetical dental practice like the one described above, most dentists are skeptical of this working. It’s a gimmick. The public won’t be fooled! People come for dentistry, not the way the office looks/feels. And that used to be the case (particularly if you set up shop 20 years ago). But if you’re in a congested marketplace like the GTA, and there’s an oversupply of dentists fighting over the same patient, you need to stand out. For their part, patients cannot really tell the difference between good / bad dentistry; they sure can say a lot about the office environment, however. And that’s what patients will likely remember (e.g. the look, feel, smell of the office, the pleasantness of the team members, etc.). If you don’t believe me, just hop online and look at the typical reviews that patients leave behind (both good and bad). They rarely if ever have to do with a dentist’s clinical skills. And as we saw in this blog here, the likelihood of malpractice lawsuits can be reduced if dentists take a bit more time explaining to patients what’s going on and the treatment they’re recommending.
I’m not suggesting that you need to make your dental practice into a car dealership. I’m saying that you need to figure out your niche brand and hammer that home every single day in all of your marketing communications mix (e.g. online and offline).
The next time I ask “What’s Your Practice’s Brand?”, you’d better be prepared with a good answer 😉