Does your brand stand out in the crowd? Here’s one that does

by Karyn Ekola, CVPM

My husband and I recently took our kids for a weekend trip to The Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was our first time and I hadn’t done very much research on the lodge, but we went with another family who had been before and said the lodge was fun.

We were immediately immersed in the Great Wolf Lodge brand. One of the first things I noticed when we arrived was a giant red paw print on the side of the building near the top. As we pulled in to the parking lot, I saw the paw print on every side of the building and again  on the entrance sign, which replaced the letter ‘O’ in the word wolf. When we walked inside the lobby, we noticed that the paw print decorated the floor mats and was plastered to the back wall of the check-in counter as well.

Once you are inside, you are taken away from the hustle and bustle of the city to a quiet and rustic woodland lodge.  From the wood furniture to the exposed log beams, all the way down to the smallest  details like the woodland creature wall sconces and rustic hanging lanterns, the Great Wolf Lodge immerses their guests in the feeling of being in a forest. But still, the red paw print icon remains ruler of all. It decorates the room number placards, the decorative throw pillows, even the TV cabinet door handles and complimentary soaps. Even though the Great Wolf Lodge is designed to appear like a woodland lodge, it was clear to me that the red paw print icon  is integral to—and representative of—their brand identity.

Even the staff uniforms reflect the brand

As our stay continued, I started to notice that every employee wore a name tag, and guess what else was on it? If you guessed a red paw print, you guessed right! Every employee had their own style of uniform, depending on their role, from the breakfast staff to the activity staff to the ladies working in the spa. Despite the difference in uniforms, they were all dressed in a consistent way, and all wore their paw print icon name tags. 

Outstanding customer service is integral to the brand experience

Every encounter with a member of the staff was pleasant, friendly, helpful, and warm. The team at Great Wolf Lodge has clearly been well-trained to deliver a consistently high quality of customer service. An entire page on their website is dedicated to their team of “Pack Members” and the culture they believe in. This is something that is fundamental to building a strong brand in any business. Out of curiosity, I thought to myself, “I wonder if they have an app?”, so I searched in the App Store. Sure enough, there it was, red paw print icon and all.

The bottom line is that branding is everything when it comes to being successful at marketing. The Great Wolf Lodge has perfected the art of branding, marketing their brand, and creating brand recognition. Their friendly staff whose names I knew before I even spoke a word to them, the consistent theme of rustic woodland decor, and the ever-present iconic red paw print all contribute to their powerful brand identity. Their branding  is reflected strongly and consistently  throughout their website and for good reason. They have developed a strong foundation for their business based on their brand, and used it to grow an empire with almost 20 locations across the US and Canada.

Can veterinary practices create a strong brand?

So, guess what?

Veterinary practice branding can have this same impact on clients. Start with your logo.

What do you want people to think of when they see it? What should stand out? How often should they see it? Think about your team, what are they wearing? Do they either wear a uniform or dress in a cohesive way? Are they wearing name tags? You want your clients to receive a consistent, high-quality experience every time they visit. Have you hired a team that fits the culture you have defined? Have you even defined your culture?

If you already have a strong brand, it is important that you reflect that across all platforms, otherwise you’re doing your brand a disservice. You want to make sure that when a client searches for you in the phone book, online, social media, or even the App Store, they will see your brand and the logo that they will associate with the experience they receive in your practice.

Karyn Ekola, CVPM is Director of Operations at Vet2Pet and a strong advocate of using technology to improve veterinary practice efficiencies. She can be reached at


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