When it comes to effectively marketing your dental practice to potential patients, your brand plays a crucial role. But what exactly is a brand and how do you create one that will attract prospective patients?
In this article, we'll define the term “brand” and share tips on how to build a strong brand for your dental practice.
What is a Brand?
These days, everyone talks about building a brand, but most only have a vague understanding of what "dental office branding" means.
Many people think that a brand is the same as a logo. However, a dental brand is much bigger than that. Every part of a dental practice, from its website to the way that the receptionist greets an incoming patient, feeds into the brand.
Here's the easiest way to define a brand: your brand is your practice's personality. It's the way your dental practice presents itself to others. Your brand is what differentiates your practice from competitors.
But here's where things get confusing. Your brand isn't just what you do, but it's also how people perceive what you do. Your brand depends on what people think and feel about your practice. While you can't control how people think or feel, you can influence it by carefully curating your brand's personality.
Here are the elements of your brand that you can control:
- Your office's environment (the way your office looks and feels, as well as the amenities that you offer to patients)
- Your customer service (how your staff interacts with patients)
- Your employee care (the way you treat your employees)
- Your website (the way it looks and functions)
- Your content (on your website, blog, social media, email, and printed materials)
- Your marketing (which includes online and offline ad campaigns that raise awareness for your practice)
By controlling these elements, you can differentiate yourself and generate more revenue for your practice.
Why is it Important to Create a Brand for Your Dental Practice?
Every dental practice has a brand. But without intention shaping, your brand won’t stand apart from your competitors. To gain more patients, you need a brand that connects with them and gives them a reason to pick you. If a patient doesn’t feel a connection to your dental practice, they are more likely to go with a different practice that has a more defined personality.
Here are the top reasons why you need to intentionally shape your brand:
Attract new patients
Your brand humanizes your practice. People are naturally drawn to and can connect with a personality.
Set your practice apart
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other dental practices in your area that patients can choose from. With service offerings being equal, a patient will rely on their gut to decide which practice to call. You can influence their gut decision by highlighting your brand, i.e. your unique personality. Show them how you’re different and why they should choose you.
If you do a great job at branding, people will begin to recognize you. The more that they recognize you, the more familiar and trustworthy you’ll become. This is crucial for marketing. While your prospective patient may not be ready to book an appointment, the more they see you and “get to know you” through your marketing, the more likely they’ll be to trust you. This is why it’s important to build a strong brand that sets you apart from others.
Here's How to Create a Dental Office Brand From Scratch
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of building a brand for your practice, let’s discuss how to do that.
Define Your Brand's Identity
As a practice, who are you?
What are your values?
What do you want others to think about when they recall your practice?
What separates your practice from others?
What is your mission as a dental practice? Sure, you’re in the dental health business, but what’s your driving mission? Are you driven by compassion or empathy? Do you educate or empower? Do you want to provide next level dental services? Affordable dental care?
Define your “who.” This is the beating heart of your practice and why you do what you do. It’s a huge part of your personality.
Answering the above questions will help to define your marketing messaging (which is useful for attracting new patients to your practice). It will also help you create brand stories that further humanize your practice and will forge an emotional connection with your patients.
For extra credit, do this exercise: Make a list of your top competitors and then answer the above questions for them. (You can usually find these answers on their “About Us” section, but you can also read reviews to see what their patients say about them.) You may not be able to find everything, but answer as much as you can.
This exercise helps you see what your competitors offer and can reveal what may be missing from the marketplace. You can use this information to further define your brand and set it apart from others.
Analyze Your Patient Reviews
If you're already in business and collecting reviews, pay attention to what your patients say about you. This can help you understand how others currently perceive your brand. You can use this information to create a more deliberate brand persona — one that doubles down on who you already are.
Create a Visual Brand Identity
Creating your visual identity is usually the easiest part of building a branding. That’s because visual branding isn’t abstract. You can see it and swap it out quickly if you don’t like it.
Your visual brand identity includes the following:
Logo - This is the symbol or graphic representation of your practice. Its purpose is to quickly communicate your core identity through color, fonts, and other graphic elements.
Packaging - Packaging encompasses everything from your business cards to your brochures. It’s how you present your services to others.
Office environment - Every element of your office, from artwork to carpet to furniture placement, creates an overall impression that reflects your brand.
Your online persona - Your online presence is all visual. This includes your website and your social media. On your online platforms, you can choose colors, imagery, fonts, and more to communicate your practice’s unique personality.
Your visual brand identity depends heavily on color to communicate key messages about your practice’s personality. Here’s how different colors can influence your patients’ perception of your practice:
- Yellow - Warm and optimistic
- Orange - Friendly
- Red* - Bold and confident
- Pink - Sensitive and nurturing
- Purple - Creative
- Blue - Dependable
- Green - Fresh
- Gray - Balanced and calm
- Black - Professional and accurate
Choose colors that underscore your brand’s personality. If you want to show that you’re friendly but accurate, use an orange and black combination (think Amazon). And if you want to convey dependability, use blue as your dominant color (think Oral-B).
*Be careful when choosing the color red to represent your dental practice. Although red is exciting and powerful, it can also be associated with blood and danger. If you choose to use the color red, opt for a more neutral shade like salmon, raspberry, or coral.
Hone Your Brand Voice
Every practice has a voice but, sometimes, it’s not defined. And, as a result, you may provide an inconsistent experience to patients.
So what is a brand voice?
Your brand voice is the way that you communicate with patients. It can be warm, authoritative, quirky, friendly, etc.
Your brand voice shows up in every communication, from your emails to your in-person conversations. Because your brand voice is part of your personality, it should remain consistent. Otherwise, it’s confusing. If your patient decides to make an appointment with your practice after reading a series of fun blog posts, but then meets a stoic and humorless reception staff, they’ll feel unsettled and may even lose trust in your practice.
This is why you need to carefully define your brand voice.
To define your brand voice, choose three words that exemplify your brand's personality (i.e., compassionate, home-spun, educational). Then describe what each word means to you.
Be sure to share your brand voice with your team members so that they understand how you’d like to communicate with your patients.
Building a brand for your dental practice doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Use the above tips to create a brand that connects with your patients and gains their trust.