What is brand power?
Apple iPhones sell like crazy. In fact, the Apple brand has created a community of users that is the envy of major companies around the world. Why is that? Their phones aren’t actually better than others.
Apple stands for something, a purpose that generates raving fans, while competitors just make cell phones. That’s brand power. Whatever dentists see and believe about you is your brand. It tells your market what you stand for, what you believe, and how you should be perceived. It also tells them what to expect from you. Your brand, just like Apple’s, should set you apart from others who do what you do. For the most part, your local competitors market themselves as being identical to you, a dental lab. Your brand should sell your uniqueness.
But I have a logo!
Many believe a brand is a logo, but a logo is only a graphic representation of your brand. In fact, some branding professionals believe logos are overrated. This is especially true when they don’t project an “image” expressing a story. When used properly, C. Whan Park, director of the global branding center at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, points out they can be effectively used by emboldening their name – IBM, presenting a friendly image – the duck from AFLAC, or simply provide a meaningful visual, such as used by Apple – a bite from the Apple (maybe that fell on Newton’s head to spawn ideas). However, Park cautions, “We also do not suggest that brand logos themselves automatically create meaningful positive associations between a brand and consumers.” Very often, the logo needs to be reinforced with a clever tagline and advertising to provide more meaning.
How do I create a great brand?
What would your customers say about you? Would it be a generic answer, or, would they be a raving fan? “Oh, my lab does decent work,” doesn’t describe a brand. A better response would be “My lab work always falls right in. That saves time and makes for happy patients. I always feel that they really care about my practice and prevent problems. I thoroughly trust them when they give advice.” After you identify your brand attributes, identify every dentist contact point, and make sure your strengths are creating customer experiences.
Another aspect of establishing a brand is having an area of expertise that targets a specific market. For example, if you want to attract implant cases, focus on disseminating new implant research and product information that solves problems. Theodore Levitt, a former Harvard marketing professor once wrote, “People don’t want a ¼” drill, what they really want is a ¼” hole.” Focus on being an expert in offering what your customers really want, and then package it in your branding message.
How important is branding online?
Neilson research indicates 61% of consumers will search online for services. According to branding expert, Debbie LaChusa, visitors to your website “…don’t have the opportunity to come into your place of business, meet you, and experience your business environment and personality in person.” Your website provides a first impression and should separate you from other labs. To make a good first impression and establish trust, graphic design, photos, and content need to immediately connect with a visitor’s concerns. The ability to quickly and effectively tell your story often requires the help of experts. They don’t make crowns, and most of us make lousy graphic artists.
Take the time to identify your strengths and target market. Then, create a brand message that resonates with the dentists you are trying to attract. Work with your team to incorporate outstanding brand experiences into every touch point. Your customers will trust you, become raving fans, and spread the word.