When most people hear the word “brand,” their minds instantly go to logos. They think branded pens, signs over doors and flashy business cards. In today’s gimmick heavy world, you can literally get anything branded. Exhibit A: There’s even talk of Richard Branson growing the Virgin Galactic brand to the moon via space hotels.
Branding on the moon. Heaven help us. Pun intended.
The fact is that branding is far more than a logo. For chiropractors and health practitioners, it’s the full patient experience, from when they first contact your business to when they walk out the door or need to contact you again.
It’s something every business person needs to think about, regardless of the field they are in.
Businessdictionary.com defines ‘brand management’ as “the process of maintaining, improving and upholding a brand so that the name is associated with positive results.” They go on to name a few important aspects that factor in to your customers (or patients) perspective of your brand.
Brand management, if done well, can result in a higher level of trust from your patient. It can flow on to higher sales, not only of the primary experience at the adjusting table but also the other complementary products you may offer. Think massage, myotherapy, counseling, supplements, postural aides and whatever else you may have on offer. This is as individual as the practice and practitioner, but the way it’s presented is essential.
It has the power to take you from chiropractor to confidante, and your practice from treatment venue to health-hub.
The brand experience, mood and vibe of the practice isn’t something that happens by accident. It is something built with intention. So how do you build a consistent brand to enhance your practice? Here are four key considerations.
- The customer experience. Good brand management all starts with the customer experience. However, this doesn’t start at the adjusting table. It begins when your chiropractic assistants answer the phone. It is foundated in tone of voice, answering times, and even hold music. It is built upon when the patient is booked in and followed-up in the lead-up to appointments. By the time the patient has walked in for their appointment, they have already been touched by your brand at least twice. These first impressions matter.Did they feel valued? Did they feel ignored or pressured? Was the follow-up friendly and professional? What was the tone like?
These aspects factor into their impression of your brand. Other aspects of patient engagement also factor in – I.E. websites, social media, advertising, and the tone of any newsletters you may send out. Are you managing a patient, or building a wellness community? There is no right or wrong answer here. The key is to know what you are aiming for, and to tailor the patient experience towards this goal.
- In-store presentation. Once the patient parks out the front of your practice and walks through your doors, the next aspects of branding kick in. Did the venue back up their first experience (when they enquired or booked in)? Is the waiting room and adjusting rooms comfortable, professional and clean? Was the music relaxing? Clutter, smells, visual merchandising, and logo’s on business cards and other printed materials all factor in to the impression your customer leaves with. Smiles from staff matter. Room temperature has an impact. There are many aspects to balance when creating a customer experience that draws the patient back again.A rule of thumb in retail is that every customer should be greeted with eye contact and a smile within thirty seconds of entering the shop, even if they can’t be greeted with a verbal acknowledgement. It’s an interesting consideration to make when you create the mood and vibe of your business.
Whole books and degrees have been dedicated to branding, visual merchandising and creating the ideal in-store experience. However, the beginners guide says this: Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and go through the four of the five senses. What do they see, smell, hear and touch? It should all line up with the way you want your patient to feel, and how you want them to perceive your practice.
- Cost is a tricky consideration for some products and services, but simple for others. Contrary to popular opinion, cheaper is not always better. If a customer wants quality, they won’t expect to pay a pittance. If a customer wants luxury goods, then they’ll expect to pay a premium. The price is a symbol of value.For chiropractors, the price of the chiropractic assessment is relatively standard across the board. It’s the pricing of the complementary items that you might want to think about. Many of them will carry a recommended retail price. Rather than straying from this, you may want to consider what type of complementary product fits your brand and perceived value. This gives you consistency across your full customer experience.
- For many products and services, the competition is an essential consideration. It is something that is researched extensively and entrepreneurs are advised to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. For chiropractors this is perhaps a little different. We don’t exist to talk-down other chiropractors in the area, we simply have to know what we offer. What is the care and intention that we bring to the patient, and the expertise and insight we present when we adjust? These are the aspects we must build upon when establishing and managing our brand.Competition may also come in the form of other complementary and alternative therapies. Here, knowledge and confidence is power. We are communicators of our profession, as well as advocates of health. Staying up to date with current research and information can help us communicate the power of what we do, and understand how to link well with other therapies in order to present our patients with the best road to health.
Brand management is an art form that can never be fully condensed into one little blog post, but now you have a place to start. Good luck!