Branding. As a physician, chances are you’ve heard this term fall from the foaming lips of your marketing team more than once. An utterance that sends shivers up the spine and causes hair to fall out unexpectedly. Their eyes are bleary and bloodshot for a reason. The dollar bill signs fly through the air before you as though your business accounts just took on shape and form and are actually vomiting cash out the window as you think about endless meetings just trying to get the logo perfect. Lo, but your marketing team yet insists….”We must get the BRAND solid before we can do ANYTHING ELSE!”
I’m not here to tell you that the concept of ‘branding’ doesn’t have its place in your practice. It is important to ensure that all the various marketing materials maintain at the very least some semblance of congruity. Think about it. What if Coca-Cola came out with the same logo only on a purple background? You might possibly think twice about buying that product (the truth is, you should think twice even if the can stays red, sugar is terrible for you doncha know, but I digress). The biggest problem I see in the business offices of physicians across the country is that they operate under the belief that if they get their ‘brand’ right, then their patients, (read as ‘clients’), will see their logo on that perfectly selected white linen envelope and suddenly be inculcated with a deep sense of having been transported to a wonderful place full of peace and serenity where their next immediate thought is ‘I really should take advantage of what they’re offering…the linen on this envelope is just sooooo beautiful…‘
I have some news for you…a logo can’t do that…neither can an envelope, and Branding is for CATTLE.
That’s right. I said it. I meant it. I’m here to represent it…
Think about it. The ONLY purpose of branding (cattle or otherwise) is to aid those outside of your organization to differentiate between YOUR PRACTICE and someone else’s. It in no way takes any stock in or makes any real bonafide claim as to whether or not your practice is actually better than another practice. If medical practices can be likened to a herd of cattle (forgive me, I’ve seen all kinds) and a potential patient is trying to discern between you and another one, all they will see initially is the logo. Logos by their very nature do not have the power to elicit an emotional response, just like a brand on a cow doesn’t have the power to elicit an emotional response. It merely allows the rancher to get the Lazy L cows separated from the Sideways S cows. That’s it. It doesn’t speak to anything related to quality.
If you’re a medical expert, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. I meet with marketing teams sometimes who say ‘We’re not ready for you…we’ve got to get our branding in place.’ The truth is, people get their information about you and your practice by virtue of information and it is what they are getting from you that tells them what it is you and your practice is all about. Social media has its place, but it should only be considered once you have information that is viable to feed it with…that’s why they call it a feed, see? The medical practices that thrive are the ones that know how to move. They are the Recon Marines of the medical field…lock and load and they are ready to go kill the bunny at a moment’s notice.
Sometimes it is necessary to forget what you know and start disseminating viable controlled messaging about you and your practice. Not only via advertisements, because an ad merely tells people how to find you. What public relations does is explains to them why they should find you.
There is absolutely no reason to delay when it comes to getting yourself and your practice out into the press. It is the one form of marketing that will do more for your branding efforts than anything else. Think about what works better…a really pretty advertisement with nice calming colors and a great modern font? Or your potential patient base seeing you in an interview on a local, regional or national television show, reading about your expertise in a magazine or newspaper, or hearing you interviewed on a radio show?
I think you know the answer…(considering it is really, at its core, a rhetorical question).
There is no reason to wait on differentiating yourself and your practice in a way that has real results attached. You know who worries about logos the most? Beer companies. You know who Beer companies market to? Cattle. I’m not saying people who drink beer are cattle. What I am saying is that if you have to put a logo on your can that shows your consumer whether or not the can they just pulled out of the fridge or ice chest is actually cold by changing colors, well, chances are you’ve got a marketing department that is desperate to keep its job and you should cut them loose get someone in there who can actually create relatively immediate results…let’s see who can I think of… 🙂
Don’t relegate yourself to the herd…differentiate yourself by getting into the fray. YOU ARE YOUR BRAND!