What is a Brand?

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Marketing | Defining and Managing Your Brand

The name of your business should support and enhance your brand. But what is a brand? And how does it differ from, or assist in, marketing?

For those who aren’t marketing professionals, the concept of branding your practice can be hard to define and challenging to grasp. When done properly, branding can be highly tangible, easy to define and measurable. Simply put, a brand is a business’s image, reputation and value proposition. It’s the image or emotion a person experiences when they hear a name or see an image associated with the name. It’s the impression people experience based on what they’ve heard or seen about you, your team, the type of care you provide, etc. People “perceive” a brand and “see” the tangible elements – the business’ name, logo and tagline – that communicate and support it.

Every business, including every dental practice, has a brand regardless of whether or not they’ve consciously worked to create and/or promote it. The purpose of the brand is to tell current and prospective patients how your practice is different from others in the area and what you can deliver that others can’t. Your brand, and all of the elements and materials that support it, should be developed with the purpose of appealing to patients. It’s possible that what appeals to patients may not appeal to you and, in many ways, it shouldn’t.

Whether a brand evokes good or bad impressions depends on whether the business has fulfilled the expectations created through its marketing, interactions with patients and others in the community, and its online presence. Positive branding creates favorable impressions and can help build your business through patient word of mouth that’s supported by other marketing tactics. Negative branding can prevent people from seeing you for dental care because they’re not sure what makes you different from another dentist or whether you’ll deliver on the promises made through your brand and your marketing.

Because your brand conveys who you are, it’s important to invest some time and effort to make sure it fosters positive imagines among current and prospective patients. Even if you don’t actively market the practice, it’s important for you to be aware of your brand and to make sure it presents the image that you want to project.

You should also make sure that the brand is consistent across all of your information, including signage, your website, print materials, social media presence, etc. Inconsistent branding can confuse patients and make them wonder how – and whether – your practice really is different from others. Have someone on staff collect all the materials you share with or send to patients and others, including other dentists, colleagues and anyone else. Examine each one carefully to determine whether your brand is portrayed consistently across all of them or whether any need tweaking or to be redesigned to ensure that you’re presenting a single impression, or brand, through all of them. More information about branding best practices can be found in other articles in this module, including Your Logo and Tagline and Your Brand and the Name of Your Practice.