Fortune 500 companies update their image from time to time for a good reason: they want to convey to the public that they’re fresh, up-to-date and on top of their game. Visualize for a moment how the logos of Nike (it doesn’t even use the word Nike anymore), Pepsi (are you old enough to remember when it was Pepsi-Cola?), and Walmart (no more hyphen for this retail giant) have evolved over the years.
Branding, which is one element in a comprehensive marketing plan, helps convey to the public who you are and what differentiates your business from your competitors. A logo, like those mentioned above, is one element of your branding plan, but there is more to branding than having a catchy image associated with your practice. When you brand your practice you establish an overall “look and feel” for your practice that makes an impression and helps patients remember you in a positive light. Here are some key points to consider when you are branding (or re-branding) your practice.
The name of your practice. Are you Jane A. Johnson, MD, or are you Family Medical Associates of YourCity? Even if you are in a one- or two-person practice (rare, but they’re still out there), consider whether giving your practice a name is something that will help convey a unique image for your business and make life easier when you bring on new associates or existing partners retire.
Tagline. Decide if you’d like to have a tagline associated with your practice name to support your image and convey a message about your philosophy. For example:
Family Medical Associates of YourCity Where Quality Care and Compassion Come Together
YourCity Dental Group Gentle Dental Care for the Whole Family
Logo design. You can choose from a variety of pre-designed logos to have printed on business/appointment cards and marketing materials, or you can hire a professional designer to create one unique to your practice. If you choose the latter, study the work of three or four graphic designers (they don’t have to be located near you) and interview them about their approach, process and fees. Make sure that whomever you choose includes in their price quote at least three (preferably five) logo options, and at least two rounds of revisions. You might look at three logo options from the first round and ask the designer to combine elements from two of them into one that you then tweak a final time to land on your perfect logo. Another option for logo design is to have your practice name printed in a unique manner so that the layout, typeface and color combined are your logo.
Using your logo. Once you’ve settled on your logo, put it everywhere-on your letterhead, business cards, patient handouts, signage, employee name badges and/or uniforms, and on your website. Make sure the logo colors are consistent everywhere and that sizes are appropriate for how you’re using the image.
Website. If your practice does not have a presence on the internet (including the use of at least some social media) you will be less likely to attract new patients and taken less seriously than your competitors. A website is essential and is not only good for marketing, but it also offers practical advantages such as giving patients access to downloadable forms, educational materials and even online appointment scheduling. Hire a professional to design your website, but make sure that you have the ability to make changes to it yourself.
Office décor. Your entire office does not have to be “matchy-matchy” with your logo, but a degree of subtle consistency isn’t a bad idea. For example, if your logo is olive green and dark blue, when it’s time to replace window coverings or purchase new artwork or chairs for the reception area, consider weaving in that color palette.
First impressions count and projecting a professional, polished image will help your practice stand out from others. Branding, an important element in marketing, is worth paying attention to and investing in.
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