First Build your Veterinary Hospital’s Brand

0 Comments Posted by Vet Network in Branding, Marketing on Tuesday, October 5th, 2010.

Before you even think about designing your veterinary hospital website, starting a brochure or creating a hospital newsletter, you need to develop your brand. Your veterinary hospital’s brand is the element that establishes your identity and sets you apart from the competition.

Differentiating your veterinary hospital in today’s marketplace based on services and prices is not enough. Today, your clients want and expect more, which means your hospital’s brand needs to be communicated in all of your marketing efforts.

Your brand is the image that defines your veterinary practice and conveys the value that your client receives by doing business with you. Therefore, if you don’t truly appreciate the value of branding, or fail to understand what your hospital’s brand is, your marketing efforts will be ineffectual and fail to generate the returns your business deserves.

Consider two veterinary hospitals competing within 10 miles of each other. They both offer the same services and pricing is similar. One hospital makes an advertising pitch that they provide veterinary services at the best price. The other veterinary hospital makes a similar pitch, but their advertising also conveys an image of compassion and exceptional customer service.

Which veterinary hospital will attract more clients?

Obviously, the second hospital will do better because the hospital owner understands that in a highly competitive marketplace, price and service will only carry him or her so far. To distinguish himself among his local competitors, he knows that his hospital’s brand or image is a critically important selling point. And if this veterinarian is truly a smart marketer, he will also work to establish a consistent brand across all marketing efforts – logo, brochure, website, email newsletter, and so forth.

Having a large arsenal of marketing tools at your fingertips is important; however, they are much less effective if they fail to convey a strong and positive image of your practice. An effective marketing strategy includes the full range of marketing tools built around one common theme: your veterinary hospital’s brand.

Establishing your Veterinary Hospital’s Brand

Marketing is about selling an image to potential clients. Branding is about creating that image. This is an important point, because it means that before you do any marketing for your hospital, you must first establish your brand identity.

The biggest mistake most veterinary hospital owners make is equating their brand with the services and products they offer. Your brand is not the services or products that you offer, nor is it your marketing campaign. Your brand is the unique personality of your practice, your employees and you.

Your brand is what you stand for and what you represent. It is the enduring image that your clients carry with them after they leave your hospital or clinic.

As you are dreaming about your practice, think beyond your building, equipment, instruments, computers and kennels. Think about your overall image. Ask yourself what truly sets you apart from your competition. Ask your employees what they think your practice represents and how they contribute. Ask some of your friends and clients what comes to mind when someone mentions the name of your veterinary hospital. If you can’t define your image, then your clients certainly can’t define it either.

Today’s savvy pet owners have an overwhelming number of choices and to stay competitive, you need to deliver the experience promised in your brand. Consider the aforementioned veterinary hospital example: Both offer the same services and work hard to establish competitive pricing. What differentiates them is the second hospital’s brand image of compassion and exceptional client service.

After you have thought about your image, compile a list of features that make your practice sound unique, and then develop a hospital mission statement. From your mission statement, create a short phrase about the benefits your veterinary practice provides, not the services. Too many veterinary hospitals list their services in their marketing materials. You need to stand out: Tell your clients how your hospital makes their lives and their pets’ lives better.

“Think of Your Pet as a Member of our Family,” is a far more effective marketing phrase for a veterinary hospital than, “We are a Full-Service Veterinary Hospital.”

Practical Considerations

Conveying your brand is more than just what you say in your website or the text on a direct mail piece. Every element of your hospital’s marketing effort must be aligned with your brand.

Colors impact body and mind by stimulating our physiology and mental states. In turn, the colors you choose for your hospital’s brand are crucial for expressing the tone of your practice. Your colors should appear on your logo, website, brochure and all your hospital literature. Your brand colors should set you apart from other veterinary hospitals, establish a promise to your clients and their pets, integrate well within the veterinary industry and create a positive image of who you are.

Green, for example, is the color of peace, health, money and ecology. Look at branding efforts by various environmental businesses, restaurants and financial institutions and notice they often use green in their brand. Other colors have their own associations and meanings and should be carefully chosen for your hospital’s branding and marketing efforts.

The architectural design, layout, color choice and materials used for your hospital need to be harmonious and contribute to your brand. If you are building a new hospital, you don’t want it to look overly conservative, nor do you want to look exceptionally aggressive.

Once all of these components are in order, you have established your practice’s brand. Now you need to raise awareness of it. This is where your marketing tools and a cohesive marketing strategy come into play. If you have a logo, website or brochure and they do not represent your brand, have them redesigned so they do. This may not be as difficult as you think, but is critical.

Your veterinary hospital’s brand instills confidence and creates loyalty among clients. With a favorable brand and some well thought-out marketing measures, you are better equipped to attract new clients from today’s savvy and discriminating pet owners.

The experts at VetNetwork know how to help you define your brand and create a marketing plan that clearly and memorably differentiates you from your competitors. Pet owners expect more than just good service at reasonable prices; they want to identify with your brand. VetNetwork ensures that your marketing efforts do just that. Call VetNetwork today and together we can develop your brand: 800-564-4215.

Article Written and Copyright © by
Mark Feltz, DVM, Owner
VetNetwork, LLC

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