By: Nikki Skomal, Director of Interior Design, Unthank Design Group
Published: Dental Practice Success, ADA, Volume 4, No. 1
Why is branding important for dentists, whether they are just starting out, in the groove of practice or winding down in their careers?
In our fast-paced and ever changing economy, branding and marketing are crucial in creating a “personality” that resonates with patients. A well-designed logo, alongside professional marketing materials, establish a dialogue with patients that builds comprehension, commitment, participation, loyalty, and trust, long before their arrival to a dental facility. The most successful practices (whether established or just starting out) strive to connect and engage with patients on a more emotional level. It is the quality of the marketing that will bring them in and the quality of the experience that will bring them back!
What are some easy, effective and affordable strategies dentists can use to brand their practices?
Here at UDG, our motto is that it is costs more to build something wrong than to build it right! The same rings true in designing your brand and marketing materials. While it is always ideal to seek out a professional, here are some strategies you can use in implementing a practice brand that your patients will remember:
1. Establish a color scheme. Select colors that are meaningful to both you and your patients. Neutrals will increase the longevity of the design, while pops of color give it the “personality” that a brand requires to be easily identified. Color theory suggests that color alone can have lasting effects on patient experiences.
2. Create a unique and easily recognizable logo. A value driven option, there is a wonderful resource online called 99 Designs, where for a flat fee, graphic designers from around the world will provide you with anywhere from 30 to 90 different logo designs. For more information on how their program works and pricing, visit www.99designs.com.
3. Commit to your brand. This means reproducing your logo and color scheme over and over until it becomes ingrained in the mind of your patients. Every choice in regards to the practice should reflect your brand personality, from marketing materials and selected networking sites to the interior design. A change as small as fresh paint can make all of the different in connecting your brand with your interior.
4. Jumpstart your new brand with a unique promotion. This will help to familiarize existing patients as well as new ones with your new brand. Interactive give-a-ways are becoming increasingly popular as they allow doctors to connect with their patients on a more personal level. Also, by giving away something exciting, whether everyone gets something or only a single individual, patients are more likely to be involved with your marketing efforts in the future.
How can a practice showcase its presence and personality in the community?
A successful brand is tangible and appeals to the senses. You can see it, touch it, hold it, hear it, and watch it move. Therefore, the easiest way to showcase the presence and personality of your practice is to get involved and build a good reputation within the community. Research indicates that a person needs to see or hear anything at least 3 times before remembering it. The key is to maintain a visual AND virtual presence. With social connectedness becoming increasingly rare, ANY attempt to create a connection will demonstrate to patients and possible future patients the level of care you provide. The more you can engrain your brand and your level of service in the minds of members of the community, the better chance they will remember you and seek you out in the future.
For older generations, it is a personal connection they seek out. To reach them, get the team involved in local programs that are meaningful to you and that connect with your practice philosophy. Maybe that means you and the team march for a cause or to raise awareness. Maybe you visit the local hospital or high school to educate and excite. It is important to get creative and find ways to showcase your practice in a way that will stand out!
Younger generations tend to form relationships with brands in very similar ways to how they form social relationships with each other, making a virtual presence important. They look to social media and websites, to determine the level of service and care a practice provides. Therefore, it is not only about the website and marketing materials being professional and eye catching, but also sharing your presence in the community online.
How does a strong brand that showcases your practice’s personality help you maximize referrals from your patients and your colleagues
It is not the strength of the brand that will maximize referrals, rather the level of service provided by that “brand”. The visual brand and community presence will bring patients in, but it is word-of-mouth and ultimately the level of service that will bring them back. If a patient has a poor experience with at the dentist, they will share that. Same if they have a great experience! Like-wise, colleagues will not refer patients to you unless they know they are in good hands.