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Branding basics Q&A

May 12, 2017
Before marketing your practice, it is important to create a brand personality that will resonate with patients. Dental Practice Success asked Nikki Skomal, director of interior design for Unthank Design Group in Lincoln, Nebraska, for some basic guidelines in branding a dental practice. Here is an excerpt from that article.


Q. Why is branding important for dentists, whether they are just starting out, in the groove of practice or winding down in their careers?

In our fast-paced and ever-changing economy, branding and marketing are crucial in creating a personality that resonates with patients. A well-designed logo, alongside professional marketing materials, establishes a dialogue with patients that builds comprehension, commitment, participation, loyalty and trust, long before a patient walks in the door. The most successful practices — whether established or just starting out — strive to connect and engage with patients on an emotional level. It is the quality of the marketing that will bring them in and the quality of the experience that will bring them back.

Q. How does a strong brand that showcases your practice's personality help you maximize referrals from your patients and your colleagues?

It is not the strength of the brand that will maximize referrals, but rather the level of service provided by that brand. The visual brand and community presence will bring patients in, but it is word of mouth and ultimately the level of service that will bring them back. If patients have a poor experience at the dentist, they will share that. The same is true if they have a great experience. Likewise, colleagues will not refer patients to you unless they know their patients are in good hands.

Q. What are some easy, effective and affordable strategies dentist can use to brand their practices?

  • Establish a color scheme. Select colors that are meaningful to both you and your patients. Neutrals will increase the longevity of the design, while pops of color give it the personality that a brand requires to be easily identified. Color theory suggests that color alone can have lasting effects on patient experiences.
  • Create a unique and easily recognizable logo. Ideally, the logo for your practice will serve as both a visual representation that reinforces the positive aspects of your brand and a reminder of what sets it apart from other practices in the community.
  • Commit to your brand. This means reproducing your logo and color scheme over and over until it becomes ingrained in the mind of your patients. Every choice in regard to the practice should reflect your brand personality, from marketing materials and selected networking sites to the interior design.
  • Jump-start your new brand with a unique promotion. This will help familiarize existing patients as well as new ones with your new brand. Interactive giveaways allow dentists to connect with their patients on a more personal level. Also, by giving away something exciting, patients are more likely to be involved with your marketing efforts in the future.
Read the full article in the Spring 2017 issue of Dental Practice Success at ADA.org/DPS. This issue also includes articles on preparing for retirement, mapping the move from dental school to practice, evaluating patient perceptions of your practice, cellphone policies, and how to make the most of your dental team.