If marketing is about communicating with the public, then the sub-discipline known as branding is about projecting a unique identity that enables a dental practice to be memorable and recognizable. And so, a good dental marketing plan begins with answering this simple question: “Why should I (the patient) pick this dentist over any other?"

"/> If marketing is about communicating with the public, then the sub-discipline known as branding is about projecting a unique identity that enables a dental practice to be memorable and recognizable. And so, a good dental marketing plan begins with answering this simple question: “Why should I (the patient) pick this dentist over any other?"

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    How to be smarter about dental brand management

    Branding is an important part of your practice’s success. Not sure how to get started? Here’s what you need to know.

    If marketing is about communicating with the public, then the sub-discipline known as branding is about projecting a unique identity that enables a dental practice to be memorable and recognizable. And so, a good dental marketing plan begins with answering this simple question: “Why should I (the patient) pick this dentist over any other?"

    Ultimately, the branding process serves to answer this question, and ensures that the practice stands out from the crowd. To attract patients who relate to their unique appeal and identity, it’s important for dentists—and all small business owners—to have a clear vision of who they are as professionals, and the exceptional qualities they bring to the table. It’s also critical to understand what messages can be sent unintentionally in the absence of a clear-cut, purposeful approach to practice branding.

    Why branding is important to your practice

    Branding is more than just developing a logo; it’s what sets one dental practice apart from the next. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, once said: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Reputation is of the utmost importance for dentists and specialists alike, as most practices thrive on lifelong patient relationships and word of mouth marketing to reach new patients

    Small business owners in general—and dentists in particular—sometimes scoff at the idea of branding; they can be imbued with the mistaken belief that branding is only for big corporations, not for local professionals. On the contrary, branding is just as important for a small dental practice as it is for a large corporate entity.

    Employing a branding strategy puts the dentist in the driver’s seat in establishing and maintaining the reputation of the practice and controlling its message to the community at large. A branding strategy ensures the practice properly communicates to current patients—and prospective patients—not only who this dentist is, but also how he or she is different from the competition. It also ensures that a consistent vision is conveyed through all marketing efforts, both online and in the real world.

    Conversely, not having a branding strategy in place makes it difficult to manage what is communicated to patients, or may allow them to draw their own conclusions. For example, a practice may have an outmoded website, which unintentionally projects an old-fashioned image and doesn’t convey the true quality of the practice—or the practitioner. This kind of misrepresentation sells the practice short, leaving patients confused and the practice potentially vulnerable to competition.

    What makes a brand

    At a basic level, branding consists of a name, a logo and a branding statement. These elements are important in terms of establishing recognition in the local community. For instance, the name of the dental practice should differentiate that practice from the competition, whether it is simply the dentist’s name, or is representative of the practice’s location or specialty.

    Having a memorable, iconic design—created by a qualified graphic designer who specializes in logo development to visually represent the practice—aids in increasing the practice’s level of recognition among both existing and potential patients. The branding statement, sometimes used as a tagline, articulates the practice’s unique selling proposition, and helps patients understand what truly distinguishes this practice.

    Consistency is critical in branding, so the practice’s professionally designed logo must be used throughout all marketing efforts, including exterior/interior signage, practice letterhead and business cards, printed materials and advertising, as well as on the practice website, in the email signature of each team member, throughout online media such as a practice blog and even on social media profiles.

    But perhaps the most important component in a comprehensive branding strategy is the simple realization that branding is pervasive, and that every last detail in the practice has an impact, whether intentionally or not. And so, every dental practice owner should examine each of these elements and ask themselves whether they reflect positively on the practice.

    What branding can do for your practice

    A dental practice’s brand is conveyed not only through traditional marketing tactics, but also by incidental and sometimes even accidental means; the way financial concerns are addressed over the phone, the tone in the receptionist’s voice when she greets a new patient, the way the doctor compliments the assistant, and even the first impression new patients have when they walk through the front door. Clinical skills, customer service, the carpet in the reception area, the greeting patients hear over the phone—each of these are part of the patient experience, and thus, the practice’s brand.

    As marketing guru John Jantsch says, branding is the art of being knowable, likeable and trustable. To be knowable, a dental practice has to be both visible and noteworthy; people have to know the practice exists, and as if that weren’t enough of a challenge, they also have to remember the practice’s name in their hour of need.

    A practice’s brand communicates the distinctive combination of skills, personality, values and expertise that influence the way dentists practice—and how the community views them. Every practice is different, and every dentist has something exceptional to offer. Branding establishes a practice’s unique identity, ensures patient loyalty, and most importantly, has the potential to keep dentists in the driver’s seat when it comes to their reputations. Branding is about communicating a message—and dentists who employ a branding strategy will ensure their patients get the message loud and clear.

    Naomi Cooper is President & Founder of Minoa Marketing and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She is a respected dental marketing consultant, author, speaker and industry opinion leader who co-teaches Pride’s groundbreaking marketing course, The New Rules of Dental Marketing. Naomi also works with individual dentists and dental companies looking to develop a cohesive marketing approach and momentum for their marketing strategy. For information about upcoming course dates, call Pride Institute at 800-925-2600 or visit prideinstitute.com. Naomi can also be reached via email at [email protected][email protected], and she blogs regularly at minoamarketing.com. For regular updates from Naomi on social media and online marketing for dentists, follow her on Twitter (@naomi_cooper) or “Like” Minoa Marketing on Facebook at fb.com/minoamarketing.

    Naomi Cooper
    Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing and CEO and CEO and co-founder of Doctor Distillery. Naomi is a respected dental marketing ...