There is a lot of confusion when it comes to terms like “brand” and “branding”. Let’s dive right in and talk about what these terms mean, and what they don’t mean.
What it is NOT: It is not your logo or name.
What is IS: The public perception of your practice.
It’s important to understand that you do not fully control your brand. It is the sum total of:
Branding is the activities and work we do to influence the public perception of a practice.
With that framework in place let’s breakdown the various elements of a brand.
Any public-facing visual element influences the perception of your practice. If you work for a larger practice or group, you may have a brand guidelines document that covers much of this. If not, consider developing one. It covers proper use of the logo, fonts, colors (width numbers/codes), imagery, etc. Without proper brand guidelines, your visuals can become muddy – even if your brochure and website both look great, but don’t seem to match each other.
Let’s jump into the top five and look at some best practices.
When most people hear “brand” they immediately think “logo.” After all, it appears on your website, signage, scrubs, statements, and just about anything else your practice produces. If you’re looking to redesign your logo, or if you’re just starting out, look to a professional to help create something that is memorable, accurately represents your practice. A professionally designed logo will also help you avoid future issues by understanding size, readability, and mediums like print, signage, and embroidery.
Outside of headshots of their doctors, most practices don’t invest time and money in photography, but it’s a major oversight. Photos of your building’s exterior, interior rooms, and staff can be used on your website, social channels, directory listings, and so much more. You can take it up a notch by bring in “extras” to play the part of patients to capture action shots.
A website that focuses on the patient will go a long way toward building your brand. Make sure it’s easy to use, provides quick access to the most important information, and works well on mobile devices.
Most every practice has brochures or take-home materials for at home care, follow-up instructions, etc. First, make sure the content itself is clear, easy to follow, and readable. Then move on to the design itself and be sure it aligns with your overall brand.
Let’s start with this: if you’re not doing video yet, you should be. Video can educate patients, put them at ease, set expectations, and so much more. If you’re unsure where to start, check out 4 Ways Doctors Can Use Video for Practice Marketing.
At Gravity Digital, we talk with our clients about personas and ideal patients. Knowing your ideal patient keeps you focused, especially when it comes to marketing. A few tips when it comes to ideal patients:
- Start by answering the number one question in a prospective patient’s mind: What’s in it for me? This is less about procedures and equipment and more about providing an understanding of their condition and offering hope.
- We like to use something called the Before and After Exercise.
Example: The Before and After Exercise
I haven’t talked to a doctor who has not experienced an issue with an unhappy patient, but with social media and online reviews, dealing with them is becoming more of a challenge.
First, focus on providing a great patient experience… more on that in the next section.
Here are a few basics that often go overlooked:
- Understand that it’s okay to ask for and facilitate reviews. Many doctors are uncomfortable with it, but you need to do it.
- Link to your social channels from your website and in your email newsletter.
- Don’t be afraid to put up signage asking for reviews.
- Promote the good reviews/comments.
The secret to getting more positive reviews: provide a positive experience.
Good marketing can’t make up for a bad product or service. All practices would help themselves if they realize that patients are customers. Practices need to provide a positive patient experience from start to finish.
A few patient experience basics:
- Understand that the patient experience begins online for most of the people sitting in your exam room. Check out The Patient Experience Starts Online for more info on creating a positive experience before the patient arrives for an appointment.
- Courtesy and respect are big. According to a study in the Journal of Medical Practice Management, 96 percent of patient complaints are related to customer service. Outside of the quality of care you provide, poor communication, office staff that is rude or disrespectful, can create a poor experience.
- Put yourself in the patient’s shoes. One of my biggest takeaways from a recent patient experience conference came from a physical therapist. He talked about how he takes a deep breath before he walks into a patient’s room and reminds himself of something. He reminds himself that he’s about to teach a new patient how to do something he’s taught a thousand times. But for this patient it will be the first time they’ve ever heard it. He said that quick mental reset makes all the difference in the world.
Remember that brand is the public perception of your practice. Branding is the activities we do to influence that perception. Things like paying attention to your visuals, working on crafting messages, building your reputation through reviews, and creating a positive patient experience.
About the Author Casey O'Quinn
Casey founded Gravity Digital in 2000 after serving as the Internet Services Director for a Nashville-based Ad Agency. He's a rare breed that operates both left and right brain, so along with oversight of the company he's active in the creative process for our clients.
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