Building a brand involves a long list of activities that are required to nurture and grow a brand into a successful entity, leading to brand extensions. Your brand determines your competitive advantage, and it is a vital asset that should be protected at all costs. It exemplifies your reputation among patients, colleagues, and influencers. If you are not minding the store and allow your brand to be tarnished, it is very hard — if not impossible — to get it back.

A name becomes a brand when consumers associate it with a set of benefits that they can obtain from the product or service. By building brand equity, you can distinguish your aesthetic clinic from all others in the market. Branding is about more than just putting up a sign with the name of your clinic, the design and colours of your logo, or the facility and location. It is about who you are as a practitioner, the reputation you have earned among your patients, your core competencies, and the type of service culture your clinic offers.

Defining your existing brand

Your existing brand depends largely on what comes to mind when your patients think about your clinic. It is often hard to take a few steps back, check your ego at the door, and look objectively at your business. What you think about your clinic may be quite different from what consumers in general, patients, and people in the community think about you.

Consider the qualities that you want people to use to describe your clinic. Are the staff warm and fuzzy? Do they make patients feel special? Is your consultation style caring and attentive, or cold and distant? Do patients feel like they are being sold or educated? Do they consider your clinic to be an efficient, professional, and high quality facility?

If you are not sure what patients really think about you, just ask them. Questionnaires and surveys filled out anonymously can be enlightening. Stay on top of online reviews also to see what patients are posting about your clinic. Negative comments on your Facebook page or blog may also reveal how your clinic is perceived. If you are not satisfied with how people think about your clinic, it is in your power to change their perceptions. You can influence people to think about you the way you would like to be viewed, but it takes time to turn it around.

Firstly, consider how you want your current and prospective patients to speak about you. Then develop a plan of attack to address key areas that are in need of improvement. Some of the most common complaints we hear from patients about aesthetic clinics involve long waiting times, fees charged, aggressive sales strategy, appointment scheduling mishaps, and the doctors’ arrogance and bedside manner. This exercise of looking at your clinic from the eyes of patients can be a humbling one. However, it will stimulate a desire to improve your relations with patients and ultimately it will improve the strength of your brand.

Every impression counts

When people hear about your brand, they conjure up a set of impressions that influence how they make purchasing decisions. If your brand does not resonate well, they may not visit your website or schedule an appointment to come in. They may also influence others not to choose your clinic either.

Your brand resides in consumers’ minds as a result of the total impressions made by encounters with your brand name, logo, website, marketing, adverts, and everything else that people see and hear about your clinic. Even the most basic things like the signage outside your clinic entrance or the way the phone is answered contributes to how your brand is perceived. Every time someone walks past your clinic, sees your Google ad, meets one of your staff members, or reads about you in the paper, they form an impression of your clinic. Look at your clinic through a customer’s or prospect’s eyes as you define your brand. Figure out why they choose your clinic and prefer to come back for more treatments and services instead of going elsewhere. That is at the core of what defines your brand.

Paying close attention to details of your brand is a crucial factor for success. Align what everything you do says about your brand with what it actually delivers. If this does not line up, there is a gap that needs attention. For example, if you claim in your marketing that your clinic ‘Takes Special Care Of All Our Patients’, but when a new patient comes into the clinic, he/she is greeted by a receptionist chatting on her mobile phone, made to wait a long time, called by the wrong name, or overcharged for a treatment, you have failed to deliver on that promise. That impression leaves an indelible mark on the mind of the patient. Similarly, if you are promoting a facial injectable treatment that you state is ‘Pain-Free With No Bruising’, and a patient being treated winces in discomfort and gets black and blue, the trust factor of your brand takes a hit.