It’s time for small business veterinary practices to wake up with their branding and marketing strategy and start putting the client experience first. Veterinary businesses are excellent—10/10—at putting patient care first. But, when it comes to how your brand is presented to your clients and community, I would give most practices a 1/10. Why so harsh? Let’s explore the missed opportunities.
1: Having an app with someone else’s name on it
There are no second chances to make a first impression. If you want to add a mobile veterinary app to your client engagement toolbox, and your app is branded to a third party, like PetDesk, AllyDVM, PetProConnect, or VitusVet, you’re making a critical mistake. It might seem trivial, but as the Washington Post recently reported, “Our iPhone weekly screen time reports are through the roof.” With as much time as people are spending on their phones, it’s critical that your brand be the icon that your clients see on their device.
For the same reason you would never name your business “Veterinarian,” you should ensure your mobile app icon doesn’t have someone else’s name on it.
Why you need a client-facing app with your veterinary practice’s name on it:
- Clients will see your brand name every day and subconsciously form a stronger connection to you.
- Clients will be more likely to use your app if they trust the brand name (which means fewer phone calls for your team!).
- Clients will be less likely to delete your business off their phone if they recognize your brand.
2: Not having a brand style guide for emails
Many veterinary practices let their vendors—from pet wellness plans to reminder services—take over their email marketing. They barely even look at the emails created by these vendors, let alone try to ensure their veterinary logo is represented consistently and correctly, and that the emails are coming from their practice name.
Ideally, every veterinary practice should have a one-page PDF that provides branding guidelines, from the practice’s name and logo to their hex colors.
When working with a new vendor, it’s critical to review the email during the implementation phase to ensure the company is properly representing your brand. Many companies will have their name plastered all over your email, which is good for them but not good for you!
3: Having no email delivery schedule
Most veterinary practices just fire off emails when needed, with no regard to the day and time when the last email was sent, or when the next email will be sent. It gets even more complicated when vendors are sending emails to clients on behalf of the practice and there is no coordination of effort.
In a study I conducted at my own practice, I pretended I was a pet owner, and I received 6 random emails from my practice in 30 days.
Wonder what pet owners think of this? You don’t see Chewy—or any other legitimate business for that matter—sending emails to their clients in such a disorganized and unplanned way.
4: Not using your logo consistently
From signage to handouts, your logo should be presented in a confident and professional manner. That means it should look the same everywhere! I didn’t realize how important this is until recently. When I took over my practice from Dr. Parkinson in 2007, I updated the logo. But I only focused on the digital usage of the logo. I didn’t take the time to update the logo affixed to the building or the sign out by the street. Why? I didn’t really think about it, and it seemed “hard.”
When I handed the reins to the next leader of the practice, they refreshed the brand and got a new sign and veterinary website. But, they haven’t updated the digital brand usage in emails, or the original brand on the building by Dr. Parkinson. So now, current and potential clients could be seeing three different logos—one logo on the building, a different logo in their emails, and a third logo on the street sign. Trust me, I’m not judging—I started this when I updated the logo! I’m just pointing out how years of change start to minimize the impact your brand could be having. It’s no wonder that many of the clients refer to the practice as the “Clinic next to Serious Texas BBQ” rather than “Riverview Animal Hospital.”
5: Not using the same logo and brand tone across social media platforms
Facebook and Instagram are not the places to abandon all branding just because you can’t figure out how to get your horizontal logo into the round thumbnail. Being consistent and having another opportunity to reinforce your brand is one of the main reasons you are putting all this effort into having a social media presence in the first place! Don’t blow it by forgetting your brand!
And if I haven’t convinced you yet, don’t take it from me. Here are some stats to mull over:
- Presenting your brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by 23%. If your product packaging, social media posts, website, and promotional materials send a uniform message about your brand identity and its core values, you are more likely to cash in. The importance of brand recognition comes down to higher revenue. (Forbes)
- 64% of women and 68% of men have felt an extreme emotional connection with a brand. Strong branding provokes emotions, and no one is immune to this effect. Interest, trust, and optimism are the top three feelings people experience in relation to the brands they prefer. If you stir up such feelings with the products you offer, you have a shot at gaining loyal customers. (Consumer Thermometer)
- 59% of shoppers prefer to buy new products from brands they trust. Yesterday’s successful branding efforts can help you launch new products today. If you had previously gained the trust of your customers, you’ll have no trouble introducing new lines of products, as almost 60% will be willing to try them out. (Invesp)
- 10 seconds are enough for someone to form an opinion about a logo. There are many criteria for a good logo. It needs to be simple, yet effective. It must be unique. Relating it to your brand needs to be a breeze. It has to grab the attention of consumers for 10 seconds so they can memorize it. (Crowdspring)
- 77% of marketers feel branding is a crucial factor in future growth. Marketers are well aware of the fact that a business needs to create a brand around which advertising efforts can revolve. For your company to grow, it’s critical to create a brand that customers can relate to. (Circle Research)
Dr. Stacee Santi, CEO/Founder Vet2Pet
Dr. Stacee Santi is a 1996 DVM graduate from Colorado State University and the founder of Vet2Pet, a technology startup that builds personalized custom apps for veterinary practices. With over 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, Stacee brings an “in the trenches” approach to innovation and solutions for veterinary teams. She has also served as a medical advisory consultant for NVA for 5 years, medical director for a general/ER practice in Colorado as well as immediate past President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.