Developing your dental office brand can be a challenging process. Your
brand is many things. It is your logo, your practice name, the design
of your marketing, and office stationery, your internal and external
environment, your team, and your image and personality. Without
considering all these elements in your brand, you could be giving an
inaccurate, and possibly misleading, impression of image and brand
How then do you come to identify your specific brand or refine it so it
is immediately recognizable by the dental consumer and does what you
want it to do? You do this by narrowly defining your brand by refining your niche.
this defining assessment that can lead to an accurate reflection of the dentist's brand identity. A viable, valid, truthful brand pierces through
the marketing clutter. You might have many service benefits, elements
and qualities within the walls of your business, but your brand can't
be stretched that far and still be viable.
Sometimes a mission statement is used to develop a brand. Mission statements can help, but other times they are internal belief systems not
external (patient) realities. A mission statement presents your
`beliefs' about your abilities and strengths and what you are striving
for. This philosophy is written and put up on a plaque on the wall
because it usually isn't immediately recognizable to patients. Dental offices can have a similar mission statement, but each dentist has, and should
speak, a different brand `truth.'
To achieve brand viability, it is important that you determine your
dental brand by looking at the strongest, most `defendable' elements of your expertise. Let's look at what needs to be considered when using specific
terms to categorize your brand. Some of the perceptual dilemmas
associated with each branding strategy are explained along with how dentists
can effectively remedy these dilemmas.
A general concept (consumers assume that most dentists are concerned
with quality), 'quality dentistry' needs significant defendable evidence (quality as
opposed to what). Plus doing comparisons of the quality other dentists actually provide is difficult.
Regularly announce/display evidence (CE, B/A photos etc.) through marketing and on your website. Your
dental practice environment, stationery, and other internal marketing materials should reflect this proposition. Testimonials
from new patients who have accessed your advanced dentistry solutions recently. Even more valuable would be to testimonials from patients who have had restorations and smile makeovers that have held up for five years or more.
Another general concept, not easily explained (gentle as opposed to
what). Gentle dentistry is also oxymoron to most people (gentle injections, gentle drilling,
etc.), which means older perceptions will need to be overcome. Another issue that complicates the marketing dynamic is that many other dentists promote the no pain gentle concept.
The color, style and shape of your logo/materials should also be calming and gentle in presentation. Your
external message should clarify it with specific references
(testimonials, techniques, technology, etc.) and adding as much in the sedation area will make it more obvious from IV sedation to oral conscious sedation dentistry to reduce anxiety and worry.
• Dilemmas Cosmetic dentistry is a well known term but not really understood by the general patient and consumer in any depth. Most people think cosmetic dentistry mostly means "cosmetic" value while it actually is intrinsically blended with very healthy restorative aspects. Even though many mature traditional patients can afford your
fees, they might be concerned they wouldn't get good `clinical' dentistry from dentists promoting the aesthetic element too much.
Dental patients who are looking for an aesthetic smile design dentist they will be very focused on the dental practice environment (doctor,
building, etc.) and will scrutinize it for complementary aesthetic cues
Reinforce your dental brand with a quality element, which includes your expertise and CE in other more traditional dental health areas. Constantly communicate quality to
referral agents through your online recall marketing system. In external marketing health and beauty should go hand
in hand. Offer visual cues about esthetics understanding throughout
your dental marketing and practice environment (not just beautiful smiles).
• Dilemmas This is a very value brand - but can be underwhelming and seen as average if not supported with more "exciting" brand elements. Because it is comprehensive it is not as easy to standout, making it difficult to promote a specialty
such as cosmetic dentistry in this milieu or specific treatments like smile makeover veneers. Avoiding a generic and outdated feel is vital to dentists who have this type of brand focus.
• Remedies Choose branding elements that give near equal or more
weight to your most `vital' high value dental service. Under the umbrella of
comprehensive dentistry, pick two to three vital dental treatments and get your referral
agent patients to promote them and constantly advertise them to the public.
*Often the comprehensive
dentistry services strategy is used in multiple doctor
practices. Large practices that also want to compete with the
cosmetic-only sole dentist practice in town need to `un-level' the
Pooling all dental office resources to do the comprehensive battle
However, savings from being large and generic can reduce the ability to penetrate the mindset of the cosmetic dentistry consumer. Aesthetic smile makeover patients are a very valuable part of your practice - that group of consumers is a healthy dynamic to infuse into your practice. Therefore, it makes sense to have a
strategy within the comprehensive strategy to approach them.
Conclusion: Building Dental Brand Vitality There are other dental brand categories including family, friendly,
affordable, caring, personalized, reconstructive, cosmetic, excellence,
etc. Each one carries with it some technical and/or consumer
perception dilemmas. If you lump too many together, you can cause
confusion because explaining each one can take precious marketing
time. It should be a balance of what you want to sell the most and
what will sell in your geographic area and in the practice environment
Improving sales in a specific service offering (esthetics for example)
can be done without it being your main branding element. But, if your
brand speaks to other things more forcefully, you will always be at
somewhat of a disadvantage to the brands out there that are targeting
Those who want a beautiful smile aren't necessarily the fearful
patients. Those who want quality might not be thinking about how
friendly you are. Those who see affordable care as your brand might
think the quality is lower. The perceptual dilemmas are always
present; it's the branding remedies that will help you bridge those
chasms of perception and effectively explain to the consumer the
reality you offer.