Branding Basics: Building Your Brand and the Future of your Practice
Branding is not something that many medical practices have been concerned about in the past, but that is changing. After all, they have had a built in clientele – people get sick and have to go to the doctor, right? But in the world of modern medicine, things are shifting. Medical practices are competing for business, working to win contracts with healthcare organizations and ultimately their patients. Even practices that are not-for-profit have to stay in business to provide their services. Having a unique brand that represents what a practice stands for can make the difference between having a surviving or a thriving practice.
Defining It. A brand is a symbol that differentiates and identifies a product or service from others in the marketplace. It can be a figure, or even a stylized version of the name of the product or service, or in this case the practice. The brand should be meaningful in defining what the business stands for and what kind of service is being provided. The key is that it is easily recognizable, simple and can make an imprint on the brain of people who view it. Note that just because a company is the biggest in their field does not mean that their brand does not have value. If “bigness” was the only important quality, then why would larger companies work to acquire smaller brands to get their following? For example, why would Volkswagon acquire Bentley, Porsche or Bugatti? The value lies in the brand, not the overall revenue. Acquiring those brands brought credibility and prestige to a brand that was associated with commuter vehicles.
Why Have It? As Scott Goodson, founder of New York advertising agency Strawberry Frog, explains in Forbes Magazine, “Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise mark as opposed to a trademark. Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products. Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable. Many companies put the value of their brand on their balance sheet.” The idea is that a brand is something that does not change over the life of a company. The doctors in the practice may change, but the ideals and values of the practice itself remain the same. Patients and other providers learn to associate the brand with the ideas and values that are a constant.
Making It Stick. Brand development requires that people learn to recognize the brand by creating an emotional attachment and causing a memory to be associated with it. According to Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight, a leader in neuroscience-based market research, “Emotion is very important, but you need to make an impact on the audience’s memory if you want to change their attitude towards your brand. So if you’re creating a TV advert, for example, it is vital to ensure that there is a strong link between the emotional response and the brand.” Building brand loyalty is ultimately about touching people’s minds – and hearts – and winning their business.
When a patient has choices, branding is what can make the difference between your practice getting the new business or a competitor. Think about your practice and consider what brand suits it best. You can always enlist the help of experts, too. Lippman Media offers services such as creating a branding guideline that can help you create the brand symbol and develop it to help grow your practice. Visit www.LippmanMedia.com for more information on branding your practice.
Article Submitted By:
Glenda Monkarsh, CEO