Branding is something we hear a lot about these days, but you may be wondering why you, as a dentist, should be interested in this topic? Well, personal branding is an important marketing asset for business, and dentists make no exception. Personal branding is the process of developing a "mark" that is created around your name or your career (1). Every person has the ability to create a strong personal brand, and to cultivate the power to stand out and be unique. This uniqueness draws people to our product, our services, and our message.
Brilliant dental professionals are missing out by not putting effort into or having an appropriate awareness of the benefits of communicating their skills and values outside of their personal networks. Ultimately, your personal brand should be about who you are. It should accrue the goodwill of your patients, which in turn is reflective of your high standard of clinical care.
Personal branding is for everyone
If you are still unsure of what branding is, then think of it from the perspective of what goes on in the heads of your patients when they think of you. What kind of feelings or thoughts do they associate with your practice? It goes beyond just having a nice logo and big promotions. The reality is that everything your practice does can be part of your personal branding. Developing your standalone personal brand is the proactive way of controlling how your clinical care services are perceived. So, in the end - if you do not work to develop your personal brand, others will do it for you.
Building a strong personal brand is not difficult; it just takes a bit of time and consistency. Sharing valuable knowledge with other dental practitioners is what can make you stand out from others in the dental community. Nowadays, it is easy to reach out and connect with your peers. Digital communication tools and social platforms have sparked a revolution in the way you can reach out and create large audiences. An estimated 72% of adults visit Facebook at least once a month (2), imagine taking advantage of such an opportunity by having a consistent and engaging online presence.
What is your personal brand?
The process of creating a personal brand can be long and sometimes complex. Nevertheless, there are certain core elements, some of which are presented below, through which you may be able to build a strategic plan and lay the foundation for your future development.
1. Create a personal vision
Determining your personal brand vision is similar to how a company’s vision is built. A long-term vision and a solid foundation should be in place when creating a marketable image for yourself. Whatever visual marketing tools you decide to use for your practice, it is prudent to create a visual impact that produces an emotional or intellectual response from potential patients. The image that you portray online is a direct representation of your personal brand, so make it a thoughtful one.
2. Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Building a personal brand also means that you know and understand your own strengths and weaknesses, because those can distinguish you from competitors. First, identify your specialty, while also thinking about the skills and strengths that you have gained along your career. Once you have identified them - perfect them by learning everything you can about the newest developments in the field, and then bring them into your practice. You can never stop learning, and it is not enough to simply learn without sharing your knowledge with others. Perhaps, become a mentor by offering your time and skills to others who want to learn. By giving back to your peers and the industry, your recognition will grow, and you will be able to build a loyal following.
3. Identify your target audiences
Once you have identified your strengths and defined your vision, it is time to identify your audiences. When it comes to targeting your audiences, remember that they are composed of both professional peers and patients. The challenge here lies in how best to appeal suitably to each of the two groups and the specific demographics within, and how to appropriately engage with each audience. Below are two different, but equally important ways you may wish to target your audiences (1).
Please note that in relation to the below, the rules regarding advertising of your practice may vary in your jurisdiction, which you are required to look into independently (as this is beyond the scope of this article).
a. Online Presence
As you may be aware that a strong online social presence and website is optimal to creating a strong personal brand. Focusing on the key services that patients in your community are seeking out when interacting with your digital accounts is vital to building a strong personal brand.
Your website is the foundation upon which you will build your online presence, so make it count. Put your expertise and relevant content online to broaden your professional interactions. By doing so it will widen the scope of your exposure to other dental professionals through online channels, such as Google or Facebook. By first focusing on your direct peers, you are increasing the chance that more people searching for your services will find you since your peers might be recommending you in addition to your good patient reviews.
b. Offline Presence
The second important way of creating a strong personal brand is to identify your emotional appeal. An offline brand presence is based on in-person networking, which is more traditional and contains more of an emotional element. With networking, try to go to as many events as possible. Speaking engagements can be a great way to do this, as well as involving yourself in different projects outside of your direct practice. Apart from the technical aspect of the industry, dentistry also involves interacting with people, so make sure you are giving them your best self.
Crafting your personal brand and reputation are highly important when creating your specific brand identity. So, ask yourself this: why do you think people are attracted to your brand? Use those answers to create a strong personal brand persona which you can refer to when it comes to creating materials that support your brand.
4. Guide yourself with the personal brand pyramid
The personal brand pyramid (3) is the perfect framework to help you conceptualize and achieve your desired results. When examining the pyramid, start from the bottom and work your way up reflecting on each level individually.
The ultimate purpose of this article is to help you start envisioning yourself as a brand, and how beneficial it can be to not only yourself, but your entire practice as a whole and in turn your patients. As was mentioned above, building a personal brand takes time and effort, but it is worth it. A strong brand will follow you throughout your career, so taking the time to cultivate it may aid to the success of your dental practice.