What does it take to build a brand?

In the first of his new video series, Simon Chard discusses the crucial first steps of building a brand, including the importance of finding your mission statement and starting with ‘why’?

Hi guys, Dr Simon Chard here. Welcome to my brand new video series, Building a Brand.

This is going to be a 12 month series – we’re going to try and produce one video each month, giving you an insight into how to build a brand.

Whether that’s a personal brand, a practice brand, a group of dental practices, or even a start up in something alongside or separate to dentistry, building a brand is something that I’ve had a lot of experience with.

This includes building up my own personal brand over the last 10 years, both with regards to communication to the patient, but also with regards to building a brand within the profession. This has allowed me to lecture all over the world and become a key opinion leader for many of the top brands in dentistry.

But also over the last three or four years since forming PÄRLA Oral Care with Dr Rhona Eskander And Dr Adarsh Thanki, we’ve had an incredible experience of really building a brand up from nothing from purely an idea and a name. I’ll go into all of the details on how those things came to be in one of the future episodes, I’m sure.

But we really created something from an idea all the way through to a brand which has national recognition. It’s on the shelves of the top supermarkets in the UK from Sainsbury’s to Waitrose, Boots, Ocado and Amazon, we’ve been on Dragon’s Den.

It’s been an incredible journey and we’re just getting started.

Starting with the ‘why?’

What I really wanted to do with this series was give you an insight into what it takes to build a brand. No bulls**t, no sugarcoating the realities of building a business. It is difficult, and it’s something that takes a lot of hard work, but actually it’s incredibly rewarding. And that’s really what I want to start with today.

Today’s episode is going to be around starting with ‘Why?’.

A lot of you are probably familiar with Simon Sinek. I was fortunate enough to see him at a dental conference in Las Vegas many years ago now. But he has this book Start with Why, which is a fantastic read.

I know that nowadays it’s maybe a little bit cliche to start with this, but actually creating a compelling mission statement for your brand is the most important thing you can do. This is especially if you’re starting to create something brand new. Having a mission statement to start with is really really important.

I’m a big fan of stoicism, stoic philosophy. Many of you will be aware that I read stoic philosophy every morning – it’s the first thing I do. One of my favourites direct quotes is from Seneca and it says, ‘No wind is favourable if you don’t know to which port you’re sailing’. (I’m paraphrasing to a certain extent there).

I think that is such a key message in business and in life, to be honest. If you don’t know where you’re heading, how do you know how to make decisions? How do you know who to hire? Or how to present yourself or your brand to potential customers and people online? That quote always sticks with me.

What’s your mission statement?

This is something that we’ve done across many of the brands that I’m a part of. With PÄRLA, it was very clear from the start that this was a mission led brand. And I think that’s actually at the core of a lot of our success.

I’d had my first child shortly before forming this brand, and we came together because we realised that every tube of toothpaste you’ve ever used still exists somewhere on the planet. They last for 500 years and the ocean is filling up with plastic.

I’m incredibly passionate about the ocean. It’s one of my favourite places to be in the world and I want to protect that for my kids. They say that by 2050, if we don’t change our single use habits, there’s going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This is a shocking statistic from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

For PÄRLA, it was a very obvious mission that we had: we wanted to eradicate plastic from oral care. Obviously, being leaders in the industry, we were being utilised by a lot of the big brands. We didn’t want to be a part of that problem anymore; we wanted to create a real solution that could be something that we solved for the customers and for dental professionals to provide to their patients across the UK and eventually across the world.

With the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) – I’m obviously the president of the BACD this year – we also have a very compelling mission statement. This is to support the dental profession in providing exceptional ethical cosmetic dentistry. We’ve worked very hard on that.

These are not mission statements that come out of nowhere, but they don’t suddenly arrive at your doorstep. They do take some conscious thought, but actually once you crystallise them, it really allows you to to create a compelling vision for the future.

Creating clarity

The reason why that compelling vision is so important is that it gives you real clarity with regards to how you communicate with your customers or your patients. But also, it gives you clarity to your team, as to why they’re there. Both for you as the as the entrepreneur or as the business owner, or even as the person running your own personal brand, it’s very useful to know why you’re doing these things internally.

I’m very much a goal setter. If you don’t have a ‘why’ to act as your north star during the difficult times, then you can often question why you’re doing these things. Especially if your only purpose is to make financial gain, which is obviously a part of business.

But this doesn’t have to be the only reason that you’re doing these things. Starting with why and having that compelling view for the future is really important for your own mental health and your own development through the entrepreneurial cycle that we all go through.

It is very much a roller coaster of emotions. But it’s also really important for your team. As your team grows, you maybe can’t be quite as hands-on with your team. Having a really clear and concise mission statement for why they’re there can really help with team retention and team happiness, and therefore obviously the quality of the service that you’re able to provide.

Hopefully that was a an interesting first episode. As I say we’re going to be launching these with FMC every month for the next year.

If you have any questions at all, please fire them in the comments. If you have any specific content or topics that you want us to cover in the Building a Brand series, then let me know. But if not, I’ll see you on the next one!

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