by Daniel A. "Danny" Bobrow, MBA
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Your first step toward an effective dental practice brand is to clearly state your objective for the project. "I was very busy, so I planned on bringing in an associate," says Dr. Charles McGinty of Joplin, Mo. "I realized I needed to update my practice image, and that to promote the practice first would be to put the cart before the horse. I also knew I needed to attract a new demographic." McGinty stated his objective as, "To create a new brand identity that better reflects the personality and unique characteristics of our practice, specifically professional/reliable; compassionate/friendly; family-oriented/hometown; committed to excellence; and proactive/health-centered."
Note the use of specific terms to clearly define the unique (or at least special and valuable) benefits offered by the practice, making it clear to all concerned (including the dental team), why, and for whom they exist.
Confirming the scope of your project means first identifying, then deciding upon, the various elements that will comprise it. A complete professional identity development project may include name, logo, color palette, tagline, vanity URL, and vanity telephone number.
What's in a name? Plenty!
A great name is a powerful force in the branding and marketing of a practice. It differentiates you, makes an emotional connection with your patients and community, and helps build a brand that ignites passion.
Types of names
There are different categories into which a given name belongs, and it is useful to classify names as part of the naming process. Categories include:
- Functional/Descriptive – Purely descriptive of what a company or product does, such as Associates of Dentistry.
- Invented names – There are two kinds of made-up names ... those built upon Greek and Latin roots, and those poetic constructions based on the rhythm and experience of saying them. Examples include Xerox, Kodak, and Interdent.
- Experiential/Visionary names – Experiential names offer a direct connection to something real, to a part of direct human experience, such as The Smile Effect.
- Evocative/Positioning names – These names are designed to evoke the positioning of a company or product rather than the goods and services or the experience of those goods and services, such as Prime Dental and Peak Dental.
A logo is your unique and identifiable symbol, association, name, or trademark that serves to differentiate your practice from others in your service area. It is the visual manifestation of your brand. If your logo could talk, what would it say about you? If it were a person, what would people say about it? When it comes to your logo, it's not only OK to anthropomorphize, it's recommended!
Consistent use of a color or colors can be a powerful addition to your branding. Be sure they are flattering, a positive representation of your identity, and may be easily and cost effectively transferred to print and electronic media.
URL (Web site address)
In choosing your new URL, remember that less is more. If you can, choose a name as succinct as possible, while also maximizing its "SEO value." To do this, it is ideal to have both a geographic and service component as part of the address. Examples of this include www.GeorgiaSmileTeam.com and www.IthacaDentists.com.
Be sure that if you have different people design your logo, Web site, and print your collateral, and promotional materials, you share your logo design options with your other designers and printers as early in the process as possible to help minimize any challenges with duplicating your logo. This can lead to unanticipated delays and costs.
A professional identity and the elements that comprise it may accurately be considered the glue that binds your practice marketing and patient communications effort. Properly conceived and implemented, it serves to enhance the return on investment in dentistry marketing.
Daniel A. "Danny" Bobrow, MBA, is president of AIM Dental Marketing (formerly American Dental Marketing). He is also executive director of Climb for a Cause and The Smile Tree. Reach him at (800) 723-6523 or [email protected].
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