When we think of the word “brand,” it often conjures up images of iconic logos, like Coca-Cola, Apple or McDonalds. But while not every business will become an international household name, branding is something that’s important to companies of every size and industry – including vet clinics.
Your brand is what sets you apart, and what will (hopefully) make you recognizable to your target audience for many years to come. Branding is something that takes time and patience, but it’s essential to your ongoing profitability.
Defining Your Brand Strategy
When it comes to marketing, many practice owners and practice managers make a critical misstep right from the start. They focus on creating ads and running promos before they take that crucial first step – defining their unique brand.
By having a clear brand strategy in place first, you’ll be better able to focus on the mission and vision of your practice. This will serve as a foundation and guideline to help you develop business objectives and then more closely align your future marketing initiatives with those objectives.
Simply put, your brand isn’t just your logo or tag-line. At the end of the day, it’s the way your clients will perceive and remember you.
Think about our reference to Apple as an example. There’s a reason people set up tents and stake out stores overnight to be the first in line for the latest Apple product, even before they know whether it’s worth their time and money. It’s because Apple is a brand they’ve come to know and trust. This is precisely what you want to achieve with your veterinary practice, albeit on a decidedly smaller scale.
Bringing Your Brand to Life
The easiest and most effective way to take your brand from concept to reality is to envision it as a living, breathing being. Now, imagine for a moment this “person” explaining who they are, what their personality is like, what they care about the most and specifically what they have to offer that’s different or better than everyone else.
Is this person someone who charges more but offers the most experience and support? Is this a person who is known for friendliness and genuine compassion? Instead of asking yourself what your brand is, start looking at it through the lens of who your brand is.
This exercise will help you define and delineate your brand’s true identity.
Establishing Your Brand Promise
Another way to think about your brand is in terms of how it serves as a promise to your clients. If you are branding yourself as a vet who treats clients and patients “like family,” for example, that’s a brand promise that you and everyone else on your team must work hard to live up to, day in and day out.
Consistency is what will ultimately make your practice name synonymous with your brand promise. In other words, by committing to delivering on that promise with each and every interaction, people will begin to associate your clinic what whatever that promise happens to be.
To achieve this level of constancy, you must align every part of the client experience with your brand. That means everything from your logo and website to how you engage on social media, how your team answers the phone, the way your clients feel when visiting your clinic and more. Every step of this journey should accurately reflect your mission and values.
A solid brand should:
Effectively convey your message
Emotionally connect with your audience
Confirm your credibility
Motivate new prospects to try you
Foster ongoing client loyalty
Align staff with your vision and mission
The Importance of Adoption
In order for your brand to stick, it must be something everyone on the team buys into. Keep in mind, a solid brand isn’t just something that creates loyal clients. It should also foster loyalty amongst your employees as well. A good brand will give your team something they can truly believe in and get behind. It will provide a sense of purpose, demonstrating to them that their work is meaningful, and they aren’t just another cog in the wheel.
Only when your entire team is clear about, and committed to your brand, can they effectively deliver on that brand promise. This is why it’s crucial that your brand permeates every facet of your business. So, once you’ve established your brand, the final step is to clearly communicate and consistently reiterate what that brand means and the role that each team member plays in driving that brand identity home with each and every client interaction.
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