Is it Time for a Brand Check-up?

Many doctors and practice professionals have embraced the notion of branding and the importance of marketing. They have taken steps beyond creating a visual identity to capture the essence of their practice and, in the process, improved the patient experience.

Patients are encouraged to get a check-up. You should do the same for your brand. In today's competitive, constrained, and complex marketplace, you should be asking yourself, "Have I done enough to connect with constituents, or should I consider rebranding my practice?"

In the end, the answer depends on addressing some key questions:

Does your practice brand resonate with patients and other professionals?

Have you set standards for professionals and staff around the type of patient experience you want to create in your practice? Most patients are well-informed consumers, and their expectations are changing and evolving. Are you in tune with them, or do you want them to bend to your way? Are you ignoring the signals they may be sending by the questions they are asking, or the small complaints they are lodging?

If you addressed these questions and can say that your brand still clearly resonates, then stay the course. However, if you think your brand is losing resonance, it may be time to rebrand because branding is about clarity. To stand out, you have to stand for something. Can you and your staff describe what you stand for and how you are different from every other practice in your area? Word-of-mouth is still the best form of marketing. Is there a clear reason for other professionals and patients to recommend you and your practice?

Is the focal point of your practice brand delivering an exceptional experience?

"Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen," is the credo that guides the entire staff at the Ritz Carton Hotels. It's a simple yet powerful idea. Does everyone in your office have a similar credo to inform and guide the delivery of the experience you want to be known for?

Is every interaction one that you would be proud of and your patients delight in? How is the phone answered? How are visitors welcomed? Is it a cattle call or is it something akin to walking into a quality restaurant? How are delays communicated to those waiting? How old are the magazines? All these details matter in crafting a memorable experience, which build patient loyalty, which helps your practice grow.

If your practice is not centered on creating a distinct and exceptional experience, then you may want to think about rebranding because branding is all about consistency.

If your practice is not centered on creating a distinct and exceptional experience, then you may want to think about rebranding because branding is all about consistency.

If you think it's time to rebrand, then now's the time to get started. Here's how:

  1. Make brand building a priority.
    Remember, execution is at the heart of a brand. It's not only the advertising or other marketing efforts you might undertake. In a medical practice, think of branding as a contact sport: it's the human factor - the ability to connect with others - that matters most.

  2. Audit your office experience.
    In addition to reviewing all the human interactions that take place in your office, you should be asking yourself the following questions: Are you using technology to enable your practice and patients, or is it seen as a bother? Are you getting the most out of digital media? Is your website current? Is it easy to navigate? Is the digital experience aligned with the in-person experience? Start making small changes and look to where you can be constantly improving because all the small things add up to big improvements and a superior experience.

  3. Don't wait.
    It's a new world. It's a consumer-centric world. It's a world of choice and constraints. It's also a world of opportunity: to be different, to be seen as being better, and to have a practice and a brand that are well known and known for all the right reasons.

Whether you decide to undertake a rebranding effort or choose to stay the course, here are three tips that you can do every day to make your brand better:

  1. Be authentic.
    Know who you are and hire well. In many ways, the brand of a medical practice is a reflection of you and your values. If you are not authentic, people will know it and will keep looking for it until they find "it." Call it gut feeling or chemistry, people know when "it's" right and when "it's" not.

  2. Be empathic.
    This might seem like an odd admonition in business, but it is key to resonating with those we serve. It's also core to being seen as different and memorable in a market of increasing constraints and competition. The best branding tool ever created was the Golden Rule, which states: "Treat others as you would want to be treated."

  3. Be awake.
    Examples of strong brands and exceptional service abound, and you encounter them on a daily basis. Branding is not a single event. It's about constant improvement, so try to learn from others and decide what brand elements you can borrow to build your own.

Taking the time for a brand check-up is worth the time because of the peace of mind you will gain from knowing the health of your brand. Don't delay. Conduct yours today.

Ron Cappello is the founder and CEO of Infinia Group, a brand strategy and design firm based in New York City. He can be contacted at 212-463-5101 and rcappello@infiniagroup.com.

***

Update: this piece has recently been published in Medical Office Today.  Read it there online.