Most medical professionals don’t give branding much thought. They understand that they need a logo, but their interest ends there. What they’re missing is that a brand constitutes so much more than just a logo: it’s the sum total of every interaction your practice has with patients, partners, suppliers, and the outside world.
When it’s put like that, it becomes easier to understand why brand guidelines are such an essential tool. When you have them and enforce them, your brand will get more consistent and the impression you’re giving out will improve.
Define your brand
As a practitioner, you’re unique, and your brand should be, too.
Think about how you want to be seen by patients. Are you a fun, quirky practice? Or do you want your professionalism to shine through at all times?
Like it or not, your business will be judged on how well it represents itself and communicates with the world.
There’ll be decisions to make:
- Colour: single colour or a palette
- Typography: letter spacing and size
- Font: standard or bespoke
- Imagery: photographs or icons
It can be an enjoyable process but it does take time and it’s so important that you get it right. Once you’ve nailed the visual elements of your brand, you need to make sure it’s being used consistently.
Brand guidelines will help to ensure that everyone in your team and external companies you choose to work with (like web developers or advertising agencies) knows how to implement the look and feel of your practice.
So, what exactly are brand guidelines?
In order to use your branding coherently and consistently, rules must be made and obeyed.
These directives will form your brand guidelines: a document that your employees can follow when making use of various brand elements, such as your logo or other imagery, and the size and placement of them.
Whether the form of communication is physical or digital, by setting and enforcing the guidelines you can make sure there is consistency in the way your business is seen by your target audience.
Think about all the places your ideal clients come into contact with your brand. Are they presented consistently at the moment?
Consider the following:
- Your stationery pack: uniform style for letterheads and business cards, font and logo use
- Website pages: logo placement, colours, fonts, imagery
- Social media: same logo and colours used across different platforms
- Your marketing collateral: patient brochures, leaflets and factsheets
- Adverts and PR: if you place adverts in local papers, magazines or in the press
- Tone of voice and messaging: consistent across the board
Once you’ve produced your brand manual, it’ll be easy for your team to keep the all-important consistency that’ll help you build and maintain your practice’s professional identity.
Having a unified approach to the way you use your branding will build trust. People will remember you (even subconsciously), perhaps before your competitors. Making your business memorable is one of the most important reasons for producing your guidelines.
Invest in your brand
Practice owners who think of branding as yet another unnecessary business expense are missing the mark.
Look at it as a key investment for your business. You want the image of your practice to ooze integrity and reliability. If you have a wishy-washy brand that lacks coherence, it won’t do you any favours.
Get your branding right and use it consistently and it’ll be worth every penny.