Every practice has a brand, the same as every person has a personality. It’s not something that you have a choice to have or not to have, but where you do have a choice is how you present and develop that brand. Here, Creative Director, Les Jones shares his insight into what a brand is and why it’s so important for your business.
So, what is a brand?
To answer that question, it’s important to be clear on what your brand isn’t and that’s your logo! Your logo is not your brand; it’s a signifier of your brand. Let’s put it this way, when you’re driving down the road and you pass that giant ‘M’ for McDonald’s, you know that’s not the brand. The brand is made up of the food, the service, the restaurant and the people, but it’s that big yellow ‘M’ which is the thing that plants that little seed into your mind and gets you thinking about that particular experience. So, for your practice, your logo is a visual jolt into the minds of your patients or your prospective patients as to what experience they can expect when coming into your practice.
In many ways, your brand is your reputation. It is how people perceive you in your marketplace, and that means that your brand is not what you think it is but what your customers think it is. If you want some evidence of that, ask the people at Volkswagen. I dare say that we all have a different view of Volkswagen’s reputation now than we probably did 18 months or two years ago, despite all their best efforts.
Why is brand important?
Brand is probably more important in today’s market than ever before because people are time-poor. They’re now making decisions on whether to use a particular company or buy a particular product based upon smaller and smaller pieces of information and so are more reliant upon gut feeling, as opposed to trying to find evidence or comparing one product against another. Ask yourself, over the last month, have you thrown a letter away without opening it? Most of us probably have. That’s you picking up a letter, looking at what it says on the front, and deciding, without even opening it, whether it’s something for you or something that isn’t for you.
‘It’s very difficult for potential patients to differentiate between one practice and another, and that’s where brand and branding can really help you to differentiate yourself from that competition.’
Brand is also important because we live in a world that is increasingly about sameness, and the dental sector is probably one of the most graphic examples of that. Dentistry is a homogeneous zone. It’s full of sameness and similarity. If you search for a dentist in any town on Google and look at all the websites that appear on the first page, you will see sameness. Websites that look similar, present similar products and services, that use the same language and that even use the same stock photography. Therefore, it’s very difficult for potential patients to differentiate between one practice and another, and that’s where brand and branding can really help you to differentiate yourself from that competition.
What’s the difference between brand and branding?
Every person has a personality – the core of who you are – this is your brand. Your branding, on the other hand, is how you bring your brand to life and how you communicate that personality to the outside world. For a person, it’s about the type of house you live in, the type of car you buy, the type of clothes that you wear, the kinds of holiday that you go on. All of those things are conscious decisions that are reflective of your inner personality. And it’s the same with your practice brand. You have your core personality, and then you have to design your branding to reflect and bring out that branding and differentiate it from your competition, so that you stand out for all of the right reasons.
Want to learn about the distinct areas that make up your brand are? Then listen to Les’ Bodcast on the importance of brand to find out more!