Your Practice's Digital Brand: Why Is It Important To Build?

September 8, 2011

Without misrepresenting facts, we all want our best image to be projected into the digital world, where it may be found on Google search.

At least at this time, the fact that you are aware of the need for a digital brand - an online presence - places you ahead of the majority of physicians and hospitals. That will change rapidly. Physicians tend to be a smart bunch. But we are also notoriously late-adopters of technology. That should be some consolation for those of you who are entering the digital world now. (Come on in, the water’s fine)

Let’s first be clear about our (your) objectives here: we all want a positive reputation, a positive brand. Without misrepresenting facts, we all want our best image to be projected into the digital world, where it may be found on Google search. Something our mom’s would be proud of.

You might be asking, “Why bother? My practice / hospital already sends out flyers to referring physicians or potential patients.”

There are many reasons for you to build your brand beyond traditional media. By traditional media I mean print, radio, and television.

Does anyone here believe that their printed flyers or radio bits have significantly built their reputation? Didn’t think so.

Let’s review what building your brand in the digital world can do for you, your patients, and your practice:

• The average patient is not a PhD in biology. They have little basis to assess the merits of a particular physician or hospital. They are bombarded by ads from many healthcare facilities and practices. They are bombarded by data. We all are. A strong brand breaks through the clutter and confusion. “Digital word of mouth” can be powerful.

• A strong brand differentiates your brand in a commodity market. When there is little differentiation in pricing or services offered (Doesn’t every hospital system have a surgical robot now? Don’t they all have cardiac labs?), branding can set your practice above the clutter of the commodity market.

• Actively branding your practice or hospital first requires careful introspection. It requires you to clearly identify your target customers and your core competencies. This will be your first step in our article, coming up soon, on how to build your digital brand. This will have a positive contribution to your practice as: building your brand will help you identify your potential patients and building your brand will help clarify to your potential patients who you are.

Successful branding will help build your practice in several positive ways:

• Branding will help build customer / patient loyalty - attract and retain patients

• Branding can help leverage specific products or services, even in a commodity market

• Branding can help maintain pricing and differentiation of products and services even in a commodity market - think of the Monblanc pen’s success despite the availability of the Bic pen

• Successful branding can help you enter new markets or develop new products or services

Finally, let’s briefly review once again what brand awareness is:

Brand awareness is: a trademark or logo, and - most importantly -the beliefs and expectations that customers hold about your services or products. The beliefs and expectations that they hold about YOU.

A successful branding program will help distinguish you, and your practice from your competitors. It will be based on you - your personality, your special services, your BRAND.

Before we move on, your homework is this:

Set aside some undisturbed time, say 20-30 minutes.

Be clear about (1) who you are; (2) what you do; (3) why it matters.

The answers to those questions will help you differentiate your practice or hospital from all others.

Focus on what it is that you do well. Focus on what makes your practice or hospital unique. Your potential patients WANT that information. They WANT some help in making the decision of which clinic or hospital to go to, which doctor to trust. Help them by establishing that trust.

The next article in this series will focus on establishing that trust, to be followed by a step-by-step guide for establishing YOUR digital brand.

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