Brand Building 101
If I were to ask you, “What’s your favorite brand?” I’d be willing to bet you could come up with an answer on the spot. A lot of people might say Apple for their simplicity and time-tested feel, or Nike for their performance shoes and their slogan.
One of my favorites is Southwest. From their commercials and their airport signage, down to their in-flight napkins, they offer a continuous consumer experience that delights me at every turn. I love their quippy sentences on signs as I walk down to the plane, and the sense of humor they encourage in flight attendants as they give out instructions. Couple that with their seamless booking experience, and they rarely fail at making me a happy customer.
What if your practice was your patient’s favorite brand? What if it were as easy for patients to talk about your practice as it is for me to talk about Southwest?
It can happen—especially if you put work into building a strong brand presence.
What a brand is and isn’t
The term brand gets thrown around a lot, so let’s define it. Your brand is how people experience your business.
Your brand is not merely a logo. It’s a compilation of everything that makes up a patient’s experience with your practice: your mission, values, business personality, tone, physical space, etc.
Building a strong brand
The most successful brands attract loyal followers ready to promote their business. To get there, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong brand foundation in place. Here’s how you can do that:
Know your mission & values
Why do you do what you do? People care about what you do, but they also care why you do it. What’s the emotional connection or the story behind your practice? Outline why your practice exists and what you value so that you can share that widely with patients.
Why do I come to work every day? Why was this our practice? What is our mission? What do we, as a team, value?
Know your audience
One of the most important aspects of brand development is knowing your audience. When you understand who you’re trying to connect with you’re able to serve their needs better. You wouldn’t treat a patient without asking what hurts; similarly, you don’t want to build a brand without an idea of who you’re talking to.
- Who makes up your ideal patient population?
- Is it pro or aspiring athletes? Dancers? Senior citizens?
- Do you treat particular injuries more often than others?
- What’s the health literacy level of your audience? How old are they?
- What other businesses get their business?
Identify your brand voice
Every brand should have a voice, a personality that resonates throughout all their communications. A standard for how you talk about your business, how you talk to customers, and the tone of your collateral. For example, Southwest’s brand voice is always quippy and fun. They make up words like “Transfarency” and don’t shy away from a good pun.
Brainstorm a series of words that describe how you want your brand to feel to patients.
- Conversational and caring?
- Professional and supportive?
- Authoritative and informational?
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Create a standard visual presence
Your brand is much more than a logo, but a logo is still part of your brand. It’s the visual representation of your practice—and the most natural thing for people to remember. Designers will often bundle the visual elements of your brand in what’s called a brand style guide. It includes things like:
- Your logo with rules for sizing and placing it. Will your logo always appear in the top right corner of your content? What about bottom left corner? There is no right or wrong but it’s important to understand that consistency is key.
- A custom color palette
- Typography and fonts
- Icons and image style
These lay the foundation for how you can visually represent your brand on flyers, websites, social media, and in your space.
Do we have a recognizable logo? Do we have a style guide to communicate how our brand should be visually represented effectively? This is one component of brand building where you may need help from a designer if you don’t have a style guide or brand book.
Don’t forget your space
Your lobby experience, furniture, and visuals (paintings, pictures, etc.) in addition to your treatment area and equipment arrangement are essential components of how people experience your brand. Use your physical space to express all of the personality and voice that you’ve built for your brand.
Have we created an environment that a patient would be excited to talk about? Does our physical space help communicate our mission and values? Does your space reflect the tone you described above? Does it feel welcoming or sterile?
Share your brand, consistently
Sharing your brand is where marketing comes in. To do so effectively, you need to be consistent. You know your brand best, so you’re the best one to talk about it. Make sure you discuss what your brand is and isn’t with staff, so they can help support the brand alongside you.
What is one thing I can improve today to help make my practice a patient’s favorite brand?