Does everything about your practice echo the brand you’re trying to get across, Jan Clarke questions.

What is a brand?

If you search Google you will encounter countless definitions of what a brand is, no one seems to be able to explain it succinctly. However, we are certain on what it is not, it is not your logo, it is not your name or trademark, even though all these elements and more are encompassed within a ‘brand’ for your dental business.

To understand what constitutes a brand better I thought this definition helps: ‘A brand exists only in the mind of your customers. Simply put, a brand is the sum total of all the impressions the customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company and your products.’

This means that every interaction is important and there should be a consistency of values in those interactions, both human interaction and visual interaction with your website, and printed material.

Most of you will have invested heavily in marketing your dental practice with a beautiful website, which has been optimised for search engines and you have a social media presence to match. These marketing activities show that you mean business and speak of quality, attention to detail and great customer service.

However, what if someone calls your dental practice and speaks to your receptionist who is dismissive and comes across as not really knowing much about the business?

What does this scenario do to your brand?

It will cause massive confusion for your potential new patient, which could lead to the breakdown of the perception they have about your dental practice and its brand values. Let’s be clear, your brand values will be something you have probably spent a very long time developing and possibly a huge amount of cash on!

The same goes for your printed material and how your practice looks. If your website has a strong image and gives a picture of quality care but your waiting area is full of notices stuck on the wall with sellotape and tatty magazines, your potential new patients will be confused.

If your estimates for costs are printed on cheap paper without any identity to your business and your practice leaflet has been printed on your practice printer that looks like the toner is running out, what does that say about you? What do your team look like? Are they neat, in a clean uniform that represents your business? Do they slip out of the back door to have a smoke whilst still in uniform and in sight? All these elements reflect on your business and on your brand.

Rules of behaviour

You don’t need to be draconian about how your team should behave but some generally agreed ‘rules’ of behaviour will help cement your brand.

  • How the telephone is answered
  • How patients are welcomed in the practice
  • Not to leave patients waiting too long and inform them of any delays
  • How and when to recall patients
  • How to deal with bad debts or good practice to ensure minimal bad debts and hence avoid conflict
  • How staff should behave when in your staff uniform
  • How email enquiries are dealt with
  • How often the patient bathroom is checked and cleaned during the day
  • How often the patient lounge is tidied too.

This list could go on and on but these are all points that should remind you that this is your brand and all behaviours reflect that brand.

Being consistent with your brand is important. Not everyone buys on cost, experience is probably more important, so let your
customer understand where you are coming from and show them you mean business with a strong brand.