You might think that a brand is simply identity – perhaps a logo or colours – the part consumers see and are attracted to. For example, you may buy products from companies with whom you feel a strong connection, even if that product is not necessarily better than that of another producer. Consider the purchase of a new phone or a laptop – at the end of the day, they mostly do the same thing, in the same way, at the same speed, but the brand is more than likely to play a role in your choice. So what exactly is a brand, and, even more interesting, what can you do with it as a practical employee?
A brand is something different for everyone!
You want potential customers to choose your practice over another, whether they are pet owners who have never been before or regulars – brand means slightly different things to both audiences.
As a brand builder, it is important to make your practice as recognisable and easy as possible to choose. You can do this by providing clarity, being consistent, and reminding people of your brand. Brand success is about visibility, being clear about who you are and what you stand for and being accessible – it’s not always about the size of the fan club! In this blog, we take a closer look at how you can apply these principles in building a strong brand for your veterinary practice.
Want to know more about branding?
The video below explains in 4 minutes what a brand is exactly.
You might think: “I provide a service not available in every shopping street – a brand is not that important”. You are, of course, right about that; pet owners do not care much about a brand when it comes to acute care. This is the same as skipping brand loyalty at the petrol station when your tank is almost empty. Yet it is especially interesting for veterinary practices to look at the ‘experience’ of their practice, and your brand is an important part of this. The following aspects influence the brand experience of your customers.
Here, we are not just thinking about the size of your signage but about how easily your practice comes to the pet owner’s mind. Consider reasons when you would like a customer to think about your veterinary practice. The goal is to create (and repeat) associations in the head of the pet owner and provide gentle nudges that you are there for them. Once a brand is in your head in a certain way, it will be much harder to forget (we will talk about consistency a little later!). ‘Multi-touch’ communications, such as flea control, deworming and vaccinations, are ideal – as they invite conversations and follow-up consultations.
If your veterinary practice is top-of-mind, it gives the pet owner a reason to choose you more quickly. This only works well if your practice is also physically accessible. You can also see examples of this when shopping, where more available brands have larger displays, often at eye level, and are purchased more frequently. In the veterinary practice, you can translate accessibility into an easily accessible website with options to make appointments online. It could also be a quiet and well-arranged waiting room where, for example, no telephone rings and the receptionist is always available to attend to visitors.
Claim your spot
As a veterinary practice and as a brand, you want to occupy a distinctive place in the minds of your target group so that they choose your brand over a competitor. This process is called positioning. Positioning is not just about making yourself distinctive but is also about consistently propagating this position. Positioning can be divided into the following 4 points:
Clarity is about defining your brand principles and making them clear to everyone within your organisation, thereby preventing inconsistencies which can negatively affect your brand.
Individuality means that the principles you use as a brand should be unique to your brand. The focus is about making your brand different from your competition. You can do this, for example, by offering unique products or services.
Consistency or coherence is the consistent delivery of your positioning. The goal is to achieve solid consistency in all communications, which will ensure recognisability among your target group.
Feasibility is looking at whether your principles are feasible to accomplish, given your starting point and the resources available.
Good, clear, consistent positioning is important because it makes the new customer’s selection process easier and subconsciously embeds your practice into their minds.
Finally, it is important to emphasise that a strong brand does not necessarily have to differ from the competition. Consistency is more important than being different. However, a strong brand exists thanks to its consistency and recognisability.
Make this topic a topic for discussion at your next team meeting and brainstorm with your team on how you can put your practice and your brand on the map.
Let’s talk about what IDEXX software can do for your practice
Complete the form below and we’ll get back to you.