Bland or brand? How ‘clone towns’ are a lesson to us all

In a sea of familiar shop fronts, it is the window with unique and eye-catching appeal that attracts attention,
Ian Eslick.

Have you ever visited a town while on holiday in the UK and had a feeling of déjà vu, as if you have walked that high street before? The shops are all the same – the banks, pharmacies and chain bars and restaurants replicating perhaps even your hometown or the place you visited the last time you went away in Britain?

The demise of the British high street is well documented. Increasingly, there is seemingly little distinction between towns on each four points of the compass – and it can make a place a little lacklustre without much to differentiate it.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) coined the phrase ‘clone towns’ when it revealed that four in 10 of the UK’s towns had become as such – full of familiar chain stores and lacking in individuality.

The NEF’s 2010 Reimagining the High Street survey found that whilst 41% of towns were already clones (Cambridge the worst of them), 23% were on the cusp and only 36% were thriving with a vibrant and independent high street.

Attracting attention

I suspect little has improved since then. Branding on a massive scale can sometimes fall victim to its own success, ultimately turning people off. Familiarity breeds contempt, don’t they say? If a business stands or falls on its ability to stand out from the crowd, then having a generic identity will only force it into the background along with everyone else.

In a sea of familiar shop fronts, it is the window with unique and eye-catching appeal that attracts attention.

It is now a commercial reality that dental practices need to raise their profile to do battle in a crowded marketplace – and ubiquitous names and branding do little to achieve this.

Audits are an essential component of any business and will help you unearth the gaps that let potential patients walk on by. This may mean a re-evaluation of what services you offer beyond clinical care – your dental plan, perhaps?

Consider your brand. Is it consistent across all platforms? Is it instantly recognisably exclusive to you? Do your patients understand that the dental plan you offer is specific to your practice, encompassing all your values within it or is it a brand they see at every other practice in the vicinity?

A practice-branded dental plan works towards strengthening a practice’s profits on many levels.

Does your team have the passion to promote a plan that does not belong to the rest of your practice brand? A collaborative team who are invested in the practice’s long-term future will need to understand, care about and be able to share confidently a practice’s whole ethos – whatever the service they are discussing with patients.

Patient loyalty

A practice-branded dental plan can also increase patient loyalty. In a sense, patients feel like they’re joining an exclusive club rather than signing up to a third-party company with which they have no affiliation.

We should never underestimate the public’s eye for a brand that stands out from the crowd, nor their weariness with brand overkill.

Whatever dentistry it is you offer, it may be time to move away from that identikit branding that is extremely popular with all the other practices and seek a provider that supports you to go it alone.

So, don’t be the Clinton Cards of the dental industry. Think ‘exclusive’, think smart – and think about your patients. Innovate to generate to avoid being like everyone else.

Patients like to feel special and delivering a brand that is consistently appealing is a major driver behind any successful enterprise.

DPAS is a specialist provider of practice-branded dental plans for your practice and patients, offering everything the team needs to implement and promote plans effectively. For further information, visit, email [email protected] or call 01747 870 910.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar