How to get that new brand freshness

At the end of my last article, I posed a question: What’s wrong with this branding? – see below.
The owner is offering the following service terms: £20 per hour; minimum three hours per week.


A clue to this conundrum is to consider the information I provided as a whole. The advert in its own right may work and attract potential clients. It’s not a great design, but it’s not a car crash either. So, what is the problem?

To understand the complexities of this, let’s travel along the consumer path. Imagine a range of consumers seeking a cleaner who happens to be looking in the location our advert has been placed. [They are not furnished with the footnote details but this isn’t the problem.]

Consumers are subconsciously programmed; we all are and have been since birth. Over years, we form beliefs, principles, prejudices, likes and dislikes; from personalities to colours, fashion to music. We generate views and beliefs based on experience or inexperience, familiarity or unfamiliarity, understanding or lack thereof.

Here’s the problem! Only a proportion of those viewing our advert will find it subconsciously appealing. Those few will pick up the phone and call for more information.
Our advert design and wording triggers nostalgia, familiarity and reassurance with older people who may recall parents or grandparents in similar attire, perhaps using similar cleaning methods.

So, good news – we have an advert and we’ve worked out it appeals to a consumer group, so we know who’s likely to call. Bad news – combine that with the business model and we hit our hurdle. How many OAPs who call will:
• Feel that they can afford £60 per week for cleaning?
• Feel the need to have three hours service a week?
Our advert doesn’t reflect the business model, or attract the right target audience, or marketplace. Before you start spending money on advertising, you must understand your business, who you wish to attract, why and what their reason is for needing you (among other things). Only then can you create a brand that appeals to the right audience, in the right places, advertised appropriately.
To illustrate the point, I think you’ll agree that my quick new brand and advert (above) is nearer the mark and would attract the right audience.

Putting these principles into (your) practice
The example above demonstrates the principle behind, and the need for, developing a strong brand; a brand that reflects your products, services and values and attracts patients who will invest in your business.

The Smile Lounge
When I first met specialist orthodontist, Ian Hutchinson, at his newly built practice in Chepstow, I was overawed. Solid slate floors, glass partitioning, modern treatment rooms and a top-of-the-range OPG machine. It screams quality, investment, and unequivocal professional success.

All this – and less than five miles from Celtic Manor Golf and Leisure Club [of Ryder Cup fame] and Chepstow Race Course. In all honesty, I questioned why he had asked for my expertise. Clinically, he had left no stone unturned, including complying with HTM 01-05 from the outset. His problem? He wasn’t generating enough clients. Completely absorbed with getting the interior and clinical elements perfect, he had overlooked the aspect of his business that he knew little about and had little interest in (by his own admission), branding and marketing his new venture.

A matter of proportionality
Proportionality is a good rule of thumb. The more you are investing in other aspects of your business, the more you need to invest in branding it and shouting about how good it is. This isn’t just about money.

Ian has invested a great deal in The Smile Lounge but his original branding solution was to source a company to provide extrinsic branding (discussed in my previous article), at quite an expense.
Unfortunately, there was little, if any, consideration to the intrinsic aspects of the brand. Until we met, no one had invested time with Ian and asked from a branding perspective:
• What treatments do you provide?
• How much do you charge for treatments?
• What sex, age, sexual orientation, race of consumers are prominent in your area?
• Who and where are your competitors?
• How do they compete (service levels, price, treatments)?
• Who and where are your advocates?
• What are your future plans and what is your business model/plan?

In truth, had Ian worked methodically through a business plan, primarily most of the answers would have already been known. I’ve since been able to support Ian with these aspects of his business, too.

It’s only by establishing these answers that one can start to identify their target audience, where they frequent, their route to marketing (i.e. on a spa coffee table or a bus shelter), their financial status, their social status.

Once I had identified with Ian exactly who his audience were – and how best to reach them – the branding started.

What we did and how we did it
What was great about working with Ian was the fact he placed the same trust in me as he asks his patients to place in him. He recognised that this part of his business wasn’t his strong point, saw that I was committed to kick-starting his business and handed the reins to me, so to speak.

We created a brand identity that all marketing would be guided by. This enabled us to produce well designed literature on high quality stock, referral cards to encourage the team to ask patients to become advocates, window displays and a targeted advertising campaign (as well as handling all advertisers and sales reps to keep a firm hold of the budget).

The pièce de résistance was the website. We produced a site that was educational, informative illustrative and brand driven. The design enables visitors the opportunity to interact and contact The Smile Lounge.

To encourage referrals from GDPs, we developed a secure online referral system providing them with a quick, cost-effective method of referring patients and providing patients with a polite and efficient service.

Ian and I were both over the moon when it won two awards at the 2010 Dentistry Awards for Best Website and Best Specialist Referral Website.

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