Branding sets your clinic apart from competitors, strengthens its growth prospects, and elevates its business value, so your practice doesn’t become a commodity (Practice Builders, 2017). Before you start branding your clinic, it’s important to understand what branding is and how it goes beyond aesthetics, like a memorable logo and impressive interior design.
What is branding?
Branding is a continuous process. It involves your clinic identifying, creating, and managing the combined assets and actions that form your brand’s perception in stakeholders’ minds. Stakeholders include your patients, your employees, and your business partners (Dandu, 2015).
For example, Mayo Clinic focused on branding their clinics as “patients first”, helping it grow from a solo clinic to one of the world’s preferred healthcare brands. Its focus on patient-centric care guides the organisation across all of its business decisions, from logo design and content strategy to organisational structure and collaboration, thereby creating a unified brand message to all of its stakeholders (Knowledge at Wharton Staff, 2018; Nisen, 2013).
Why is branding important?
Branding helps your clinic build a loyal base and keeps it in the minds of patients, so they return to and recommend your practice to others.
|Benefits of Branding|
|Differentiates your clinic||A good brand effectively communicates your unique selling point(s) and resonates with patients, motivating them to continuously choose your clinic over others.|
|Manages patient expectations||Your brand acts as a “shortcut” in the purchasing decision (Wright, 2016). E.g. The Mayo Clinic brand communicates quality, reliability, expertise (Nisen, 2013).|
|Increases your business value||Prevents your business from becoming a commodity. It increases your clinic’s value in terms of mindshare, reputation, influence, and price premium (Dandu, 2015).|
|Generates new business||A good brand is well-perceived by stakeholders. Patients are more likely to engage providers they trust. It’s also easier to promote a reputable brand via word of mouth.|
|Builds patient trust and loyalty||Branding is the key between intention vs purchase. When you consistently deliver on your brand promise, patients will trust your brand, driving loyalty (Liu et al., 2021).|
|Supports job satisfaction||Employees are proud to work for good, reputable brands. When staff enjoy working at your clinic, it will naturally motivate them to act as reliable brand ambassadors.|
How to brand your clinic
Identify and understand your target market
For your clinic to succeed, you need two key ingredients (CB Insights, 2020). The first is a good market. The second is knowing why you serve this market. A good market is one that has a large number of potential patients, high growth in potential patients, and low barriers to patient acquisition (Chen, 2011). Use patient personas to understand why you serve this market. Learn your target market’s demographics, behaviours, preferences, and pain points. These will help you create a strong brand that resonates with your target patient group.
Identify and communicate unique selling points
A strong brand communicates the unique selling points of its business to customers, staff, and partners. A unique selling point is a factor that sets your practice apart from competitors. For example, Mayo Clinic’s unique selling point is its steadfast commitment to patient-centric care. While many clinics make the same claim, Mayo Clinic puts its money where its mouth is. SInce the 1980s, Mayo Clinic has worked on expanding its brand to become an authority in healthcare education, prioritising research to fulfil unmet patient needs, and form strategic partnerships to accelerate healthcare innovation (Anastasijevic, 2019; Doran, 2019; Justice, 2013). Finding your unique selling points will also help you build a brand identity that best represents your practice.
Create consistent brand identity elements
Your clinic’s brand identity elements, like its name and logo, help patients recognise your practice in the market. Your clinic’s brand identity should align with its core values, brand promise, and patient experience, so you deliver a unified message to stakeholders. For example, Mayo Clinic maintains brand consistency in its logo design. Its three interlocking shields represent the integration of practice, education, and research to support its commitment to delivering the best healthcare possible to patients (Nisen, 2013). After establishing your clinic’s unique selling points and brand identity, find out if your branding efforts are working by measuring brand effectiveness.
Monitor and manage brand effectiveness
Like marketing performance, it's important to monitor and manage your brand effectiveness, so you’ll know if your targeting and execution are on point. Since branding is a continuous process, analytics can help you pinpoint where adjustments should be made, if needed. For instance, survey your patients using Delighted or Typeform from your Plato, and find out how they learnt about your brand. Similar to Mayo Clinic, you could expand your brand by offering additional services that align with its unique selling points.
For example, let’s say you run a premium aesthetic practice. Patients have feedback that they’d prefer to buy skincare products from your clinic, since it’s a source they trust. If you use Plato, you can link your Plato to ecommerce platform Shopify and set up an online store in minutes. Your patients can then buy products online from your clinic and have it delivered to their doorstep, improving your brand’s “stickiness”. In another example, imagine you run a contactless GP clinic. Your clinic sees many chronic disease patients. Instead of having patients travel to and from the clinic for their regular checkups, invite them to check-in virtually and save them a commute. Set up a virtual clinic instantly from Plato. Hold secure teleconsultations, let patients pay remotely for their teleconsult with PlatoPay, then follow up by sharing summary notes or care plans with patients, directly from your Plato.
Anastasijevic, D. (2019). Mayo Clinic selects Google as strategic partner for health care innovation, cloud computing. Mayo Clinic News Network. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-selects-google-as-strategic-partner-for-health-care-innovation-cloud-computing/
CB Insights. (2020). The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail. CB Insights Research. https://www.cbinsights.com/research/startup-failure-reasons-top/
Chen, A. (2011). When has a consumer startup hit product/market fit? Andrewchen.Com. https://andrewchen.com/when-has-a-consumer-startup-hit-productmarket-fit/
Dandu, R. (2015). What Is Branding and Why Is It Important for Your Business? Brandingmag. https://www.brandingmag.com/2015/10/14/what-is-branding-and-why-is-it-important-for-your-business/
Doran, C. (2019). Science Saturday: How Mayo Clinic recruits and trains researchers from within. Mayo Clinic News Network. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/science-saturday-how-mayo-clinic-recruits-and-trains-researchers-from-within/
Justice, J. (2013). The Big Brand Theory: How the Mayo Clinic Became the Gold Standard for Social Media in Healthcare. Social Media Today. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/big-brand-theory-how-mayo-clinic-became-gold-standard-social-media-healthcare
Knowledge at Wharton Staff. (2018). How the Mayo Clinic Built Its Reputation as a Top Hospital. Knowledge at Wharton. https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/mayo-clinics-secret-success/
Liu, S., Li, G., Liu, N., & Hongwei, W. (2021). The Impact of Patient Satisfaction on Patient Loyalty with the Mediating Effect of Patient Trust. INQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, 58, 004695802110072. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8040618/
Nisen, M. (2013). Mayo Clinic CEO: Here’s Why We’ve Been The Leading Brand In Medicine For 100 Years. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/how-mayo-clinic-became-the-best-brand-in-medicine-2013-2
Practice Builders. (2017). Create A Powerful Brand for Your Medical Practice. https://www.practicebuilders.com/blog/create-a-powerful-brand-for-your-medical-practice/
Wright, A. (2016). Why is Branding so Important for Your Business? The Branding Journal. https://www.thebrandingjournal.com/2016/06/why-is-branding-important-business/