Chris Wenham is the Principal Dentist and owner of Norton Village Dental, (previously High Street Dental Centre) in Stockton-on-Tees. In the summer of 2013, Chris implemented a complete re-brand of the practice (including a change of name) as part of a strategy to engage more with the local community and drive up his patient numbers.
We caught up with Chris to see how the re-brand has impacted on the practice since its introduction.
So Chris, tell us a little bit about the reasons behind your decision to rebrand your practice?
Well, the practice has been established for over 30 years, it was originally part of IDH, until they agreed to sell it to myself. It was a two surgery practice situated on the high street in Norton Village, Stockton-on-Tees and was predominantly NHS. I privatised reluctantly in 2006 when the new contract came in and chose Practice Plan as our plan provider.
During the recession, we started to struggle in attracting new patients and so looked at ways of how we could save money.
After several meetings with a business consultancy, shortly followed with a visit from Practice Plan’s Creative Director, Les Jones, who offered a wealth of experience in how best to approach the difficult task of boosting our patient numbers, whilst also looking at ways in which we could improve our image, making us more noticeable on the high street as a private practice.
Tell us a bit about the outcome of the visit with Les?
We first established that the values and principles behind the brand hadn’t changed, so we recognised that we needed to think of a way we could make ourselves look more attractive to the people of Norton and become more visible. We were inspired to take a fresher, cleaner and more modern look at how we communicate. Previously, we’d been treading water and had never considered rebranding before but we needed to refresh the existing brand with a new name and make ourselves look more professional and up-market. The whole team felt enthused and excited to make the change.
“We were inspired to take a fresher, cleaner and more modern look at how we communicate.”
How did the new branding manifest itself?
We decided to change the name to Norton Village Dental and enlisted the help of the Marketing and Design Team at Practice Plan to come up with some concepts for a new logo which was more in-keeping with how we wanted to be perceived by the patients we were trying to reach out to. We always did well in retaining existing patients, so were purely looking to grow our practice and attract new ones.
Once we had finalised the logo, we looked into getting all our stationery consistent, along with new signage and we furnished the inside of the practice to give it a fresher feel. They also helped us to develop a web presence which we didn’t previously have.
We started verbally communicating the rebrand to our existing patients to ensure they didn’t feel threatened by the change and we then moved onto targeting new patients by carrying out a flyer drop, introducing who we were and promoting our services.
“We gained more new patients and received glowing praise from our existing ones, so we have ultimately achieved and exceeded our original goal.”
Following the rebrand, did you achieve what you hoped?
Absolutely! We feel we have moved from looking like a typical NHS practice to a more upmarket, modern-looking practice. We gained more new patients and received glowing praise from our existing ones, so we have ultimately achieved and exceeded our original goal, which was to grow the practice and create a more profitable, sustainable business. Increased staff morale has also been achieved as they enjoy working in what feels like a more high quality and professional environment.
Would you urge other practices to focus more on developing their brand?
Definitely, it has been one of the best things we have done. It has made a big impression on the patients, the ones that already attended as well as the new ones.
I can safely say I wouldn’t shy away from rebranding in the future, even if it was just a change of colour scheme. Les did suggest thinking about doing something similar again, every four to five years, as it’s great to refresh from time to time so that we don’t stand still, as it’s easy to become stagnant.
So we will definitely keep reviewing our rebrand and I would encourage other practices to do the same and ask themselves whether it’s working for them or whether there is something more they could do to make them stand out from the crowd and get noticed.