Building a Brand for Your Dental Practice
Jan 27, 2016
To some, going to the dentist is a necessary evil.
The awkward chair, blinding light, uncomfortable “ahhh” and painful, noisy instruments can be a source of dread.
In order to make this experience more pleasant, we stick to a trusted dentist – someone who knows us, understands our reservations, and makes us feel comfortable.
But what causes people to choose one dental practice over another? It is the same factor that differentiates any successful business from an unsuccessful one: branding.
What is branding?
Though the two are often confused, branding is not the same as marketing. Although they are interlinked, they are not interchangeable.
Marketing is an explicit communication of your strengths and services. Branding is an implicit expression of your purpose and promise, and is much bigger than your marketing strategies.
Branding is an assurance of enduring value, consistency, trust and service. In other words, who you are and why it matters.
Why does my practice need a brand?
Dental practices, in particular, benefit from a powerful brand because they are driven by patient loyalty. Referrals and repeat patients are the backbones of your business.
If you wish to thrive amidst a crowd of eager competitors, you need a brand that creates meaningful relationships with its patients.
Note that patients equate a strong brand with superior quality, and are willing to shell out a few extra dollars to avail of its services. So while your competitors are busy slashing prices to stay afloat, your patient’s emotional connection with – and affinity towards – your dental practice will do the hard-work for you.
With that in mind, here are a few tips to create an irresistible brand identity for your dental practice:
Effective branding recognizes and responds to the unsung and unmet desires of your consumers.
Ask yourself the following questions to get into your patients’ heads and understand their mindset:
- What are their typical ages, locations, genders, and income ranges?
- What are their interests, personalities, and hobbies?
- What is their lifestyle?
- What do they need and want from their dentist?
- How do they feel about going to their dentist?
- How do they want to feel after completing their session?
Obtaining feedback from your patients can illuminate their perception of you. You should also rely on the intuition and insights of your staff who directly communicate with patients.
The goal is to find that sweet spot between your targets’ needs, your expertise, and the profitability potential of your preferred market.
Brand culture can be defined as a ‘set of principles’ that binds your company’s important stakeholders. Some key facets of a resilient brand culture:
Unique Service Proposition (USP)
A Unique Service Proposition (USP) is a customer-centric statement that clarifies why your patients should choose you. To finalize an influential USP:
- Assess the ‘health’ of your internal and external environments by conducting a SWOT analysis. Take advantage of your strengths and opportunities to position yourself as a market leader.
- Brainstorm 10-20 adjectives that epitomize your brand – pick a few key phrases for the USP.
- Turn to your past for answers. Think about why you started the dental practice and what motivates you to evolve constantly. Such questions reveal your business’s story, which can lead to a powerful USP.
- Most successful businesses are rooted in strong ethics. What values will you never compromise?
These steps spread your thought processes in multiple directions to help you fashion the best brand positioning statement.
Vision and Mission
Mission and vision statements remind you and your employees to focus on “what’s really important”, even as you get mired in the minute details of your day-to-day motions.
A mission statement is action-oriented, short-term and realistic, while a vision statement is aspirational, long-term and idealistic. But both of them are driven by your values and written for your patients.
Avoid jargons, platitudes, and convoluted language. State your intentions simply and clearly.
Your brand promise states the one non-negotiable result that your patients can expect from every interaction with your dental practice.
To come up with your brand promise, think about the primary benefits that your patients desire – is it a better smile, stronger self-esteem, or just more confidence? For instance, a compelling brand promise for a dental practice could be: “Proudly flash your smile again.”
Brand Voice and Personality
A brand’s personality refers to a unique combination of characteristics that distinguishes your brand. For instance, Red Bull is animated and adventurous- with an emphasis on activity.
The most popular facet of branding, visual manifestations instantly identify – and codify – your dental practice by plainly conveying its’ promise, values, personality, and vision.
- Name: Whatever name you choose, make sure it does not have negative connotations.
- Logo: Be it Nike’s Swoosh, McDonald’s Arch, or Facebook’s Thumbs Up, the best logos trigger a visceral reaction and recognition. Keep it simple, distinctive, and easily reproducible across all marketing materials.
- Colors and Fonts: Don’t use more than 2-3 colors/fonts to avoid being overwhelming.
- URL: The most effective URLs are succinct, searchable, and communicative. (Note: Register your site on Google Local Business)
- Taglines: Classic taglines wrap brands in an embrace of exclusivity. Just do it!
Your employees can become your best brand ambassadors, but they cannot magically comprehend your brand’s intentions, motivations, and aspirations.
You have to take the time to explain your brand, train them to represent it adequately, and escort them through their challenges.
Set clear expectations, guidelines, systems, protocols, and rewards in place. Inspire your employees to continually act in the best interests of your brand by offering mini-perks, bonuses, extra days off, and compliments on social media.
The secret to successful marketing is consistency and frequency.
Your brand identity must be immediately evident across all marketing channels because familiarity improves brand awareness:
- Email: Be helpful, honest, humble (Humor always works!)
- Blog: Share educational articles, entertaining stories, and engaging trivia in various formats.
- Social Media: Assume the role of a friend, a guide, a mentor, a confidant and a FUN person. Be respectful, resourceful, and responsive.
- Direct Flyers, Business Cards and Letterheads, Client Letters: Thoughtful messages, ‘Thank You’ notes, small tokens of appreciation, discounts and coupons are all ways to make your clients smile.
- Website: This is the hub that links your branding efforts. Basic tips for highly-converting sites:
- Avoid broken links and stock images.
- Highlight your contact information on important landing pages
- Get creative on your About Us page.
- Clearly list – and explain – all your dental services (and prices).
From the minute your patients walk in the doors of your dental practice, they are clicking and storing ‘mental’ impressions, often without them even realizing it.
- Is the waiting room well-lit and well-maintained?
- Is the staff friendly and thoughtful?
- Did they have to wait past their appointment time?
- Were they informed about the delay – and accommodated accordingly?
- Does the dentist clearly explain the procedures and recommendations?
- Are their concerns addressed?
- Does your staff follow-up?
Such understated CUES can make or break your brand. Show that you prize and prioritize your patients.
Strong Brands Matter
Genuine brands transform patients into advocates who will spread the word about you.
Allow your brand to work for you, building a reputation within your community for outstanding quality, service, and caring.