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Branding your practise

Every physiotherapy practice owner wants their clinic to be a patient's first choice. Building and managing a brand can helps make this happen. Brands are useful for two reasons. Firstly they give potential patients a firm idea of what they are getting, and secondly they give previous patients strong loyalty because they know what to expect.

It is a mistake to think that brands are not just for big companies. Brands can be used to make therapy practices stand out from the crowd, particularly in competitive markets.

To develop your practice's brand you will need to focus on what your patients want and how you can deliver services to deliver their requirements. You will need to be consistent in your service and every other point of contact patients have with you, ie all your phone calls, letters, emails, faxes need to be consistent in their design and styling.

First steps for creating a brand

Successful branding is about promoting your strengths. Start by thinking about what you're good at and what you believe in as a business. For example:
  • particular skills - such as a speciality in an area
  • high-quality customer service
  • providing the best value for money in your marketplace
You need to be sure that you can always deliver your strengths, sometimes referred to as "brand values".

What patients want

You also need to match these brand values to your patients' requirements.

What drives your patients? What makes them decide to choose you? In most cases, it's not only about price or performance.

Ask existing patients what they like about being treated by you. Asking potential patients what they look for when deciding of choosing a therapist can also give you useful information to help develop your business - and your brand.

If your brand values are in line with what existing and potential customers look for when they're buying, you've got the beginnings of a useful brand and you're ready to start building it.

But if they're not, you'll probably need to reconsider either the benefits you offer to your present customers or whether you're targeting the right people.

Building your brand

Once you've defined your brand values and your patients' needs you can start to build your brand by consistently communicating your brand values. Remember that every possible contact you have with a customer or potential patients needs to reinforce your brand values.

Key areas to consider are:
  • your business name
  • names you give your products or services
  • any slogan you use
  • your logo
  • the style and quality of your stationery
  • product packaging
  • your premises
  • where and how you advertise
  • how you and your employees dress
  • how you and your employees behave
  • your website
If all these are consistently in line with your brand values, your brand will be strengthened. But if all of them aren't in line, your brand (and your business) could be seriously damaged. A brand makes promises to customers and if they aren't fulfilled, your customers will be far less likely to use you again.

Ten tips on branding

To build a successful brand you should:
  • Focus on what your practice achieves for its patients. Your brand is no good to you if it is not delivering what patients want.
  • Take ownership of your brand. Pay attention to patients' needs, whilst remaining in control of what you want your brand to mean to them.
  • Be honest. If you don't believe in your brand, no one else will.
  • Keep your brand simple. Focus on a small number of key brand values.
  • Be consistent. Every aspect of your business should make patients feel the same way about you.
  • Be thorough. Look at all your systems to make sure they help to support your brand.
  • Involve employees. Make sure they understand your brand and believe in it.
  • Communicate your brand. Make sure every advertisement, brochure and letter helps reinforce the same message. If you have a logo, use it everywhere.
  • Meet and exceed what your brand promises. Failing just once, will damage your brand.
  • Manage your brand. Continually look for opportunities to make improvements and don't be afraid to make changes to reflect shifts in the way you do business or new trends in your market.

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