Dental Strategies For Success library
Branding Your Business Through Design
Branding - what does that really mean to a vision care practice? Why are some practices concerned about how and what their facility communicates to their clients, employees, competition and the community? Isn’t branding something major corporations do?
Progressive vision care practices are beginning to recognize that the message they send about their practice and values - their branding - is reflected in everything the public sees, especially their facility. It is easy for an optometric practice to overlook the impression, often lasting, that clients receive when they walk through the door for the first time. But this impression will often determine whether that client returns. Think about a place you’ve entered and immediately felt uncomfortable. What made you feel that way? Was it clutter that sent a message that perhaps this business wasn’t organized? Did you question whether you would really get the level of service that was promised?
The Power of Branding
Your practice environment speaks volumes to your clients and staff about you, your values and your philosophy of practicing optometry or ophthalmology. It quickly makes a statement about what clients and patients can expect from you. “Branding” your practice means that everything in your facility reflects the message you intend to send, from the quality of care provided to patients, to the state of technology in use. And a new office design or remodel is the perfect opportunity to firmly establish your brand.
In fact, if you don’t carefully consider and define the message you wish to send to clients, your practice will be branded by default based on your clients’ experiences with you. This means your practice could be inadvertently branded by your clients as too busy for its patient load, disorganized, or not up-to-date technologically.
So it’s extremely important to take control of your brand message and incorporate it when initiating a hospital design or remodel.
Outline Your Vision
Branding is about creating an experience for your clients through their interactions with you, your staff and the facility. You’ll therefore want to carefully define the experience you want your clients and patients to have when they enter your facility. Put everything on paper to solidify your thoughts:
- Do you want clients to immediately feel welcome and relaxed? Do you want their first impression to be one of efficiency and customer care?
- Do you want to communicate that you are on the cutting edge of eye care, that your clientele is upscale? Or do you want to convey that your fees are economical?
- Is it important that the community recognize your participation in continuing education?
Your staff is also an important element in supporting your business brand. When considering your office design, listen to staff suggestions and help create an environment that will maintain their morale and support your brand message. Remember, your employees are often the first encounter your clientele has with your practice, and having an environment that staff members take pride in may be critical to the quality of that interaction.
Be specific with your practice vision and don’t leave anything out. All of your thoughts should be shared with your project team prior to approval of any design concepts.
Understand Your Market
Clearly understanding the market in which you find yourself, including what your competitors offer, helps ensure you won’t make costly mistakes when designing your practice. An upscale branding of your practice can work against you in a more modest neighborhood.
It’s also important to understand your clients and what their expectations are from their practitioner. All of this input will contribute to the design you ultimately develop for your facility. And keep in mind that understanding your market is an ongoing exercise that’s a necessary aspect of staying in control of your brand message.
Rely on a Professional Team
Once you’ve clearly outlined your vision and the message you want to convey to your clients, leave it to a professional design team to effectively incorporate your message into the look, feel and function of your vision care practice. Otherwise, you risk taking a dysfunctional space and perpetuating it in your new facility, wasting your investment and perhaps undermining your key message.
A team that is comprised of you, the architect and the general contractor and is integrated very early in the process will set you out on the right foot. It’s extremely important that team members are comfortable with each other and that you can communicate your ideas easily and openly. Holding back your ideas will only create an opportunity for the design, process or budget to spin out of control - and perhaps result in a facility that conflicts with your desired message about your practice.
Tips For Defining Your Message
- Inquire of others (not related to you) what they see and hear when they walk in the front door of your existing facility.
- Consider the staff and their workspace. Can your front office employees handle both phone clients and those standing at the reception desk? Do your staff and clients receive the message that they are important to your practice?
- How does the design of your practice impact the way it is managed? What does your management style communicate to your clients?
- Observe what you see in other businesses like your dentist or doctor’s offices. Look for messages that convey your own philosophies and notice how they succeed in communicating that to you.
Your facility has a voice. Its appearance and functionality represent you and speak volumes. It reflects your quality of service, relationship with clients, philosophy towards healthcare, and teamwork and management styles. In short, it contributes significantly to how you are perceived by others - this is your brand. Take note and make certain your new office design sends a clear, consistent and positive brand message.
Statements of opinion not necessarily endorsed by the American Optometric Association or any of its subsidiaries, counsels, commissions, or agencies.
Janice Cox, Vice President of Business Development for Sholar Design, PC, manages the interface between design and construction for development of practice facilities. An Affiliate Member of AAHA, Ms. Cox has a range of experience in the veterinary field, from emergency/special medicine hospital administrator to hospital design consultant. Based in Colorado, Sholar Design provides architectural services to veterinary practices including comprehensive land planning, conceptual design, construction documents and Interior design. Ms. Cox can be reached at 303-984-9765 or email@example.com
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