It used to be that building brand value was only important if you were a multi-million dollar company. Marketing campaigns were so expensive that small business owners didn’t even think to add them to their business plans, and many would invest in a new logo and call it a marketing strategy. But today, marketing and branding tools are accessible to almost anyone, thanks to social media.
And with millennials owning more pets than any other generation in history, it’s more important than ever for veterinary practices to have a strong brand and online presence.
What does your brand say about your veterinary practice?
If you have a logo, website, or handouts—congratulations, you have a brand! So, how do you discover what your brand is saying about your veterinary practice? Complete the following three steps to find out:
- Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Review your major marketing pieces, including your logo, your website, your business cards, and even your mobile app. Do they tell a story about your brand that’s consistent with your practice’s values and mission?
- Go all the way through your service experience, from scheduling an appointment to checking out.
- Describe your interactions and experiences in three adjectives. Are these the adjectives you hoped would come to mind when interacting with your brand? If not, you’re not alone!
10 ways to build your veterinary brand
It’s not too late to make your veterinary practice’s brand what you want it to be. Yes, your brand can help you attract new clients, and retain existing clients. Here are 10 easy ways to build your veterinary brand:
#1: Revamp your logo
Online services like fiverr.com or upwork.com design great logos for a minimal fee.
#2: Update your website
Visit your veterinary practice’s website. Is it easy to use? Can you easily find the most helpful information? The website experience is a reflection of your practice’s experience, so take some time to ensure it’s easy to navigate.
Is your website relatable to your clients? If not, change the photos so they are more relatable and promote your client’s connection to your brand. For example, not many pet owners will connect to your brand because of the state-of-the-art building your clinic is in. They will connect with a photo of your team playing with pets and looking happy while doing it.
#3: Get a custom-branded app
According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans owned smartphones as of April 2021. And, a February 2021 survey revealed that nearly half of Americans spend five to six hours each day on their smartphone. Get your own veterinary practice app with a custom icon to give your clients an opportunity to interact with your brand between visits to your practice.
#4: Create high-quality printed handouts
Want to educate clients? Create high-quality printed materials to help polish your look. Make sure your handouts are using your logo placement and brand font consistently. Avoid making a copy of a copy, fading the handout. Invest in good printing. Give everything a good look-over for spelling errors.
#5: Use authentic, high-quality photos
Rather than relying on stock photography for your website and social media, invest in a photographer and build a library of your own high-quality images. This will help build trust in your content and brand. If you can’t get a professional photographer, grab your iPhone and start snapping photos of your patients. Take it to the next level and include your clients and the photos they submit through your app’s Pet Selfies feature. Remember, this is your community’s veterinary practice so make it feel like that! Don’t forget to refresh your content regularly (every 6 to 12 months).
#6: Create original content on social media
Original content will be more engaging, and will get your brand more likes on social media, than canned content.
Ask clients to share photos of their pets through your app’s Pet Selfies feature and, with their permission, post them to your practice’s Facebook page.
#7: Clean up your front desk
First impressions matter. If your front desk is a hot mess, clients will think your care is the same. Just like pet owners view the incision on your spay as a symbol of the quality of your entire ovariohysterectomy, they will formulate their full opinion on their first impression at your front desk.
Is your phone ringing off the hook? Does your team seem out of control? Is your front desk in disarray? These are all subconscious cues that don’t scream “We are glad you’re here and you are in great hands.” When you make a conscious effort to improve these non-verbal signals, your clients will have more confidence in your practice overall.
#8: Evaluate the scrub situation
When a client visits your practice, their hope is that veterinary professionals will provide top-notch care to their best friend. It’s important to ensure the image of the team is translating this message. This means, unfortunately, that the scrub uniform and attire needs to be coordinated across the team with a color and style palette that is flattering to all.
While I’m a big fan of flying your own flag, there are ways to do this without compromising the brand message your team is presenting to the public. When different team members wear completely different outfits, it generally does not convey a “team” approach. And, let’s face it: It’s hard to confidently present a $2,000 invoice to a pet owner wearing Hello Kitty scrubs.
#9: Update your business cards and hand them out to every client at checkout
Instead of each doctor having their own business cards, create a practice business card that directs clients on what to do in specific situations. For example, “If you have a question, send us a chat in our app or call us at . We are open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. If you need assistance outside of these hours, you may leave a voicemail if non-urgent, or visit ABC Emergency Hospital if urgent. If your pet may be exposed to poison, please call the poison hotline at .”
A business card that provides clients with a quick-glance view of what to do in specific situations will certainly end up on the fridge, or some other key viewing spot in the home, so be sure to have your branding front and center on this card.
#10: Be consistent
Regardless of your brand’s colors, fonts, tone, look, or feel, be sure to be consistent across all communication channels. The way your team answers the phone, your practice’s emails, the postcard reminders you send out, your social media channels, your practice’s app…even the way your team speaks to clients in the practice—all of these should be consistent to strengthen your brand. If everyone knows the brand’s mission, it will be easier to make the best choices.