Last week I was talking to a client about the long term vision for his practice, and he told me “I want to be the dental brand that everybody immediately thinks of when you say cosmetic dentistry.” Given the size of his market and the visibility of his practice location (or should I say “invisibility”), it’s a pretty aggressive goal. Not impossible, but definitely lofty.
It’s also an extremely common request from the practices we work with.
If I asked you what goes into creating a dental brand, most of you would probably say that a slick logo is key. I would then tell you to stick with dentistry and leave the marketing to the professionals, because the logo is actually one of the least important parts of creating a memorable brand.
A true dental brand is built around the “identity” of the practice – its values, attitude, and how it interacts with the community. Deciding who you are, and being able to tell that story in an authentic, engaging way is everything. And often, it requires you to take a risk, sharing what makes you, “you.”
To help you understand branding, I want to share an example outside of dentistry. A few years ago, my husband sold his dental practice and decided to pursue his passion for brewing craft beer. We live in a rural university town that has no brewery, so I knew he would be successful even if the name of the business was “Lewisburg Brewing.” (snooze…). However, he’s an ambitious man married to an even more ambitious woman, so to grow, I knew we had to develop a brand that would attract the attention of beer enthusiasts throughout the state.
The name of the brewery is “Jackass Brewing Company,” because, well, if you spent an hour with my husband and his partner, it would be obvious. I had my daughter hand sketch a logo of a donkey munching on a wheat braid, and my design team turned the illustration into a professionally designed logo. You would think the name of the brewery would be all you need to create a memorable brand, but then you’d be missing the point of this article.
The “Jackass” attitude is pervasive in their marketing and how my husband and his partner run the business.
If you read the menu, you’ll find food with names like “Mother of all Cluckers” (an obscenely good take on chicken and waffles) and a delicious appetizer called “Do you wanna hummus?” There’s cocktails named “White girl wasted” and beers named “Dumb Ass” and “Moms with Pitchforks,” an homage to a few local SAHM’s who initially boycotted the new brewery due to the name. Everything, and I mean everything about their brand is intentionally designed to feel a little bit irreverent.
Their social media marketing features viral videos of the owners slapping each other with tortillas during the Tortilla Challenge, and live feeds of the team canning a new beer. One of their core values is “Give a <beep!>” where team members are recognized for doing exactly that with their customers.
THIS is how you create a brand. Every message, action, and interaction with their customers reflects the brand’s attitude. As a result, customers routinely drive in from 1-2 hours away and add their names to the 90-minute wait list, all because they want to be part of the brand.
Brands are about creating memorable encounters. The logo simply reminds people of the experiences they have had with you – both positive and negative.
Right now, the introverts among you are likely thinking “This is dentistry, a respectable profession. I can’t act like a Jackass,” and you’d be right.
You do, however, have to learn who you are, and infuse every part of your practice with it.
Dr. Aimee Russo-Mounger has a practice called “The Smile Spa,” where patients are drowned in the comfort of fuzzy blankets, noise canceling headphones, and heated neck wraps. Full body massage chairs are found in the waiting room so patients are fully relaxed prior to their appointment. She creates memorable experiences, which means when our marketing kicks in over the next few months, we can attract the patients who value the patient experience she has to offer.
Tracy London Driver works for Loveland Dental Group, where her infamous “Monday Bites” lip sync videos have patients begging to participate. The Singing Dentist, Dr. Milad Shadrooh, shows patients that dentistry (and dentists) can have a sense of humor, making for a very fun visit. Dr Surina Sehgal is known as The Foodie Dentist, sharing her passion for food and healthy smiles, and how the two work together. The Jackass Brewing Company brand isn’t just about beer, it’s about an attitude of irreverent fun.
Most dentists, when pressed, will say that their friendly practice and painless injections are what makes them unique.
Sorry doctor, but this is the literal antithesis of a memorable brand. It’s nice to be friendly, but it’s nothing special.
If you really want to build a brand about your painless injections, start asking every patient to sign their name to a huge display every time you give them a painless injection, and then market that. Just imagine being able to boast about “10,000 painless injections and counting” on social media! Or if you’re a basketball fan, you could create a “get a shot, take a shot” campaign where patients shoot hoops with you in the parking lot as part of a fundraiser. The possibilities are endless.
The point is, to build a memorable dental brand, you need to find that “thing” that authentically captures your passion. Then, express what makes you memorable in your personal and professional social media, during patient visits, on your website, and in your marketing. Becoming “the brand everyone thinks of for Cosmetic Dentistry/Dental Implants/Invisalign/etc” is not as simple as designing a cool logo. It’s about living your truth and sharing your passions in the most memorable way possible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Xaña Winans is the CEO and founder of Golden Proportions Marketing, a dental marketing company dedicated to the growth of dental practices throughout North America. Founded in 2001, her agency provides strategy driven, full service solutions including branding, internal marketing, advertising, and digital marketing.
Goal driven results are at the heart of everything she creates.
Her passion for constant and never ending improvement led her to develop Smart Market Dental, the first dental marketing software designed to tie individual marketing strategies to resulting patients.
The ability to measure marketing ROI in real time holds her agency to a higher standard, driving continuous improvement of their work.
Xaña is a board member of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants and lectures nationally on the topic of dental marketing.
She publishes regularly in Dentistry Today and Dental Economics, and is a frequent guest on industry podcasts.