You’ve decided you want to go out on your own and open a medical practice. Congrats! Now that you’ve decided that, the second most important decision you’ll make: what to call your practice.
Finding the perfect name is no small task, and there’s a lot riding on the decision.
It’s important to find the appropriate name on the first try. Otherwise, you may struggle to build your practice or with rebranding in the future (think time, effort, and marketing, not to mention the cost of any signage or promotional materials.)
For some physicians, the name comes naturally. Maybe it’s a name that magically comes to them while they’re shampooing their hair. Maybe it’s a name they’ve had in mind since they first wanted to be a physician or open their own practice. For the majority, naming their practice is probably more difficult than naming their babies. This becomes all the more challenging when establishing a group medical practice, as more people means more ideas for names—and potentially more disputes over those ideas.
Larger practices, hospitals, or health systems may hire professional marketing and branding services to help with their name, but that may not be feasible for small medical practices. Does that mean smaller practices should not pay attention to this critical aspect of the overall branding strategy? Certainly not, but it does mean you should take the naming process seriously.
Names are powerful. A practice’s name is core to its overall healthcare marketing strategy. Names build recognition and helps patients, as well as the larger community, identify with the practiceand its specialization. Therefore, thoughtful consideration is required to strengthen the effectiveness of marketing efforts.
A medical practice name should be easy to say, hear, spell, and remember—unlike prescription drugs. It should be appealing and resonate with your target patient base.
Here are three common naming methods small medical practices use. Some of these naming conventions are based on personal preferences and aspects, including local reputation; uniqueness or commonness of the physician’s name; andpersonaldreams, visions, or plans.
Name of the doctor
Thisis one of the most common methods wherein a part, or all of, the doctor’s name is usedin the practice’s name. Even though it offers personalization and the benefit of immediate recognition, it is suitable only for solo practices. The possibility of adding other associates is difficultand does not communicate the practice’s mission or specialization. Another variation of this could be the initials of doctor’s name(s) or abbreviation of doctor’s name(s).
Localized or geographic name
These types of names elevate the geographic location as the most critical aspect. It is possible to highlight the practice’s activities along with the location. This makes it easier for your target audience to find your practice location and specialization, if coupled with practice activities, such as Cedar Rapids Eye Care. However, these types of names may become outdated over time or limit the scope for the practice if additional services are offered.
One of the top 10 primary care medical practices in New York goes by the name Leaf Medical. It could be the name of a doctor. However, it is possible the practice chose a random name that is unique and memorable. It may have an abstract relationship to the practice or practitioner(s). Another possibility is to draw an analogy between the practiceand the patients or their desired state, such as Smile Dental Clinic or Get Well Medical Clinic. However, a disadvantage with these random names is that they appear impersonal and may require more promotion and marketing efforts in order togain patient recognition.
There are other, perhaps more personal, factors that can influence a medical practice’s name. You may also consider studying the competition for any trends in the marketplace, and then choose either to follow or buck the majority.
Regardless of methodology, it is important to consider the long-term implications of your practice’s name up front, even before you see your first patient. While the focus should be on your long-term goal and vision of the practice, it is also important for you to consider some of the legal and proprietary aspects such, as trademark and website URL.
Once you have chosen a name for your practice, and made sure the name isn’t already in use, you should consult an attorney to help with trademark and other legal aspects to protect this vital piece of your practice’s identity, its name.
Alex Mangrolia has been in digital marketing for more than 15 years to drive new profitable growth as well as techniques to boost website traffic and leads. He works as Director of Marketing and Product Development for Practice Builders, a healthcare marketing and consulting firm for healthcare practices, hospitals and clinics. Learn more about Alex's capabilities at PracticeBuilders.com.