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Your Facility: Your Most Visible Brand Expression

By: Wendy Catone

You probably have a detailed marketing plan for your practice, as well as a strategic business plan. But how much thought have you given to branding strategy as it relates to your practice's physical appearance? Have you ever wondered what your facility communicates to your patients, clients, employees, competition, and broader community? If you have, then you are already a huge step ahead of your competition, who may not have.

Savvy practice owners are quick to recognize their brand is reflected positively or negatively in everything the public sees, which includes their web presence, direct marketing, social media activity, and especially their facility. First impressions in any of these marketing settings truly matter because that impression may determine whether a patient or client returns, refers, or positively reviews your practice.

If this is a new way of thinking for you in regard to branding, that's entirely natural! And as you think about the physical representation of a brand you have experienced, consider any business you've entered and where you have immediately felt uncomfortable. What made you feel that way? Was it obvious clutter that made you feel that the business possibly wasn't organized or well designed? Did you question whether you would really get the level of service that was promised? Did you worry about your privacy if paperwork of other clients was visible to you? No doubt, that would make anyone uncomfortable. And most of it is avoidable through proper physical design.

Physical Space as a Vital Brand Representation

Without the use of a single word, your practice environment speaks volumes to your patients, clients, and staff about you, your values, and your management philosophy. Carefully and intentionally branding your practice space means that everything in your facility reflects a specific message to your audience from how state-of-the-art your equipment is to the confidence patients can have in the care you provide. And there is no better time to carefully consider your brand in physical from than with a new office design or remodel.

Outline Your Vision for a Physical Brand Representation

Marketing professionals know that successful branding creates an experience for patients through their interactions with you, your staff, your communication, and your facility. All brand representations should be in full alignment with each other for maximum impact. To help you consider your physical branding goals, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want your patients or clients to immediately feel at ease, comfortable, and relaxed?
  • Do you want their first impression to be one of efficiency, privacy, and quality care?
  • Do you want to communicate that you are upscale and on the cutting edge of care? Or do you want to convey that your fees are economical and offered at value-pricing levels?
  • Is it important that the community recognize your participation in continuing education?
  • What would your staff like from their physical workspace? (When considering your office design, listen to staff suggestions and help create an environment that will maintain their morale and support your brand message. Offering an environment that staff members take pride in may support a more positive care experience.)
  • Do you have a team of professionals to help you consider a design approach? Share all of your specific thoughts and wishes with your project team prior to approval of any design concepts. Invite others to review the design plans with you and even vote as a care team for greatest inclusion.

Understand Your Market

Clearly understanding the market and your competition may help you discover your ideal brand expression. Market research may also help you avoid costly mistakes when designing your practice. For example, an upscale branding of your practice can work against you in a more modest, price-sensitive neighborhood. That said, the process of market research is never one and done. Ongoing market check-ups can help you evaluate any changing conditions, as well as needed adjustments to your brand expression over time.

Bring in Professional Support

Once you've clearly outlined your vision and the brand expression you want to convey, invite a professional design team to integrate your brand into the look, feel, and function of your practice.

Building a project team that includes you, the architect, interior designer, and the general contractor can set you on the right path. To ensure the best outcome, encourage a free and fluid exchange of ideas and viewpoints throughout the process. Holding back your ideas and concerns will only create an opportunity for the design, process, or budget to go off track —potentially working against your vision and desired brand expression.

How You Can Define Your Physical Brand Expression

  • Ask others (i.e., those not related to you or your business) what they see and hear when they walk in the front door of your existing facility.
  • Ask your staff what they like and dislike about the current work environment. For example, can your front-office team easily handle both phone calls and individuals standing at the reception desk, ensuring privacy for all? Do any spaces feel too confining for the required interactions? 
  • How does your physical space currently convey your management style and approach to care? Is there anything in the space that seems to contradict your desired brand expression?
  • Observe what you like and dislike about other practices; those in your field and those that are unrelated to your field of work. Do any offer inspiration that you can leverage?

Without saying a word, your practice has a distinct voice, which may or may not support your desired brand expression and management philosophy. Practice design directly influences perception of you: it is your most obvious and fixed brand expression. Ensuring the practice design is in harmony with your desired brand expression can benefit you, your staff, and all who walk through your doors. Practice design is the most important, lasting branding investment you can make.

About the author

Wendy K. Catone is the Florida Business Development Manager for Wells Fargo Practice Finance. She is an experienced consultant and finance professional who has been servicing the financial needs of healthcare practitioners for over 25 years. Ms. Catone speaks at seminars and professional schools throughout the year. With a variety of financial products, Wells Fargo Practice Finance helps dentists start, build, grow, and transition their practices throughout their career. She can be reached at 800-708-0279 or wendy.catone@wellsfargo.com

View all articles by Wendy Catone

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All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.