This is the most important place to start. It’s time to get everyone on or off the bus.
Your launch should be a monumental meeting, and everyone needs to see it as not just another new idea.
- If you have not already done so, ask your team to write the top three things that come to mind when they think of the practice. (It’s important that this is done in anonymity. You are looking for honesty, and they need to feel free to be honest.)
- Teach them what branding is. Tell them that you want to take control of your office’s reputation and that you need everybody’s help.
- Read your mission statement, values, and differentiation statements—that is, how you want your office to be different.
- Ask for their feedback about what each of them can do to help create those experiences for the patient.
- Look at the office dress code, office decor, and the patient experience, including the transition from room to room and departure.
- Let the team decide how to answer the phone and communicate in a way that is in harmony with the brand.
- You must have the entire team on board. Just one team member who is out of harmony will completely throw off and potentially destroy your brand.
Talk about your brand and review the office mission, vision, etc., regularly.
Some offices appoint a team member as brand ambassador and give that person the responsibility to protect the brand.
The key to success with your brand is consistent attention. Remember that every interaction matters. Your team must see that this is also their brand, not just the dentist’s.
This is a great extension to discuss in your team launch meeting.
Take the following field trip with your team:
Walk outside the office and have everyone look at the office from a new patient’s perspective.
Have everyone write down their observations on the following:
- What impressions does the front sign give them, and are those in harmony with the brand?
- The exterior of the building
- The window space, if applicable
- The front door
- What they first see when they walk into the office
- The reception area
- Take note of the ceilings, walls, and flooring
- The front desk and what they see behind it
- What’s on the TV, if applicable, or the types of magazines
- Continue this journey through the entire office, including the bathrooms.
Have everyone share what they have experienced. Let them feel safe; there are no wrong answers. The purpose of the activity is to get a fresh perspective and be honest about what your office is communicating to patients.
Remember: Do not be discouraged. The feedback should be a revelation for most offices. You do not need to change everything overnight. Many improvements can be made for little to no cost. The big changes will be a part of your long-term brand strategy.
The logo is the most important design element of your office.
The theme of your logo should be carried into all other design elements, from the website to print media.
A well-designed custom logo that is inspired by your brand is the most important thing you can design, and it is well worth your investment.
Your logo is your first impression. It’s an impression that can be costly to change if it’s out of harmony with your brand.
Is a logo just a matter of personal preference? Absolutely not. Certain colors, fonts, and images will communicate your brand, and others will not.
Things to look at
Colors: What feelings do they give off—cold or warm, professional or down-to-earth, etc.? Many sites online teach about communicating with colors. Just be sure your brand, not some random factor, dictates the colors.
Fonts: Playful or serious, high-tech or country. Your brand has fonts that will and will not work.
Design elements: This area is where you really need a creative team who understands branding to bring everything to life.
Layout: I think you get the point here—everything matters.
If you have been following the process up to now, you are probably seeing the world and your office in a whole new light.
Now it’s time to take that light and knowledge and apply them to your website.
Have your team look at the following with you:
To do this properly, I recommend taking only 10 seconds to look at it.
What does it say?
What messaging stuck out to you?
Was it clean or cluttered?
Was it organized?
Did it communicate your brand?
What message did the photography give off?
I always feel bad for offices that spend several thousand dollars on a new website but fail to actually brand themselves and their sites first.
Chances are, your website is out of harmony with your brand. If that is the case, just add it to your overall brand strategy as something to eventually bring into line.
When it’s time to create your website, do your research. Find a company that understands these principles, even if it is not dentistry-specific. That’s much less important.
As a reminder, well-branded custom design is not cheap. It’s also not nearly as effective as internal marketing. Be smart, focus on low-cost efforts first, and then put money away so you can eventually do things right.
As I have heard Pete Dawson say many times, “The longest distance between two points is a shortcut.”
When you are communicating with the outside world, it’s essential that you know two things:
- What do you want to say?
- Whom do you want to respond to?
It’s easy to get new patients.
Would you believe me if I promised you 100 new patients by next week?
I guarantee it could be done.
How? Just put up a sign on the road that says Free Dentistry.
Getting patients is not what we are after. What we want is patients who
- Value what you do
- Will pay for your service
- Fit in and appreciate the culture and brand of the office
- Stay long-term and refer their friends
How is this done?
- Define your target audience. Be specific. Trust me, you don’t want everyone. People who try to cater to everyone end up with no one.
- Define what type of message that demographic will most likely connect with and respond to.
- Create a marketing piece that communicates the right message, and put it in media your target audience will see.
Take a look at your last advertising piece. What’s the first thing that sticks out to you?
Let me take a guess...Free?
I’m guessing it got you patients, but probably patients who never came back because the dentist down the road offered them the same thing: free services.
Not all marketing is smart marketing. Don’t be taken advantage of by some company selling you something you don’t need.
Marketing works—this is not debatable. But what sickens me is the amount of money wasted by dentists who get sold by so-called marketing companies that survive off the industry’s ignorance.
Why branding is important for a dental office
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