Every practice needs a brand that aligns with the look and feel of the office and the patient experience. The brand should be professional, warm, and friendly. Your practice isn’t just an office, it is an experience. And, hopefully, it’s better than the competition. Every “brand” is different and yours will be unique to your specialty. For a Pediatrician, it may be colorful and fun. For a surgeon, more sophisticated.
We want patients to see an ad with a look and color scheme that is oddly familiar when they arrive in the office. Then, when they go to the website after the visit to lookup a procedure, the complementing color palette and feel should gel with what they saw in the office. Creating a brand that matches the patient experience in the office will take some time and multiple avenues, but is very much achievable. The components are listed in the order they should be carried out.
The foundation of a new brand is a fantastic logo that is designed for immediate recognition. Think Apple, Nike, or Blue Cross Blue Shield. The logo needs to speak to the feel of the practice. The logo is the base identity of the brand. It shouldn’t be easily duplicated and should immediately evoke a mental image of the practice. You want a logo that is distinctly different from others in the market. A great logo can be the launching point for all other marketing materials and definitely should be professionally designed.
The next step in creating a brand professionally developing a marketing piece, letterhead, envelopes, and business cards. The marketing piece should be kept simple! A flattering professional portrait is always money well spent. The letterhead, envelopes, and business cards can be created in tandem with the brochure. It is important to select papers that complement each other and reinforce the feel of the brand. Work with someone that will bring printed samples to your office so you can touch and feel your options. It’s important to see what you are getting before you order it.
After there is a brand concept, it should be applied to the website. Much of the website can be figured out before the brand is final. But the actual look and feel of the site needs to be determined after there is a concept of the brand.
Everyone is on the internet today. It is where consumers go for quick information. Whether or not a website will drive patients into a practice is very specialty-dependent, but regardless, potential patients see ads or are referred by their physician, they will go to the web to do their homework before making an appointment. Therefore, before launching any print advertising, it is highly recommended to have the website functional. It’s highly recommended to use a platform that your own staff can edit, such as WordPress.
Other elements to consider on the website are a patient survey, educational materials, lifestyle tips, and a blog. These can make the website not only a resource, but an interactive experience.
Social media. It’s not just for kids anymore. Hospital systems and physician offices are among businesses that you now see interacting with their patients via social media. Use social media for getting out information about the practice (new technology, new procedures), send out fun health tips (try Stevia instead of sugar), and push out meaningful health articles. Most of all, keep it light. Social media is a way to continually remind patients that your practice is looking out for them. It is not for medical information like WebMD or for interacting with a specific patient. And, of course, consult with you legal team on this one.
Miscellaneous Print Pieces
Prescription pads and forms from the practice need to have the right look. Be careful that they follow the same style as other marketing pieces, even though they can certainly be in black & white and on more economical paper. Imagine walking into a beautiful office and having a great experience, but then the imaging form has words crossed out, has been copied multiple times, and the practice name is whited-out with another practice name written in. Overlooking small details such as this can cloud the brand experience. Also, be weary of too much and unprofessional looking brochures in the office from third parties. Pieces from vendors are fine to make available in the practice. Just be sure to actually have the practice’s logo and contact information professionally printed on the brochures. Most likely the vendor would pay for this in exchange for making their information available to patients.
Ensuring the Integrity of the Brand
It is paramount that once an identity is created for the practice, it be diligently protected. Logo use, colors, and even use of the practice name need to have standards that are kept. Creating graphic standards can be helpful, especially when utilizing multiple vendors and through staff changes. An example would be: The graphical element of the logo may be separated from the logotype, but when used together must be stacked. Or, the logo can only be placed on a white or gray background. It takes years to create a strong brand, but only a few blunders to dilute it.