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Posted on 03-30-2017
Standing out in a competitive market is difficult, but without memorable branding to set you apart from other veterinary practices in your local market, it can be next to impossible. Beyond having a professional logo, consistent branding will increase the value of your practice, generate new business and give you a strong online presence.
As a small to medium business, you may be competing against bigger chain hospitals, which is why it is essential to find ways to differentiate your practice from the competition and your practice’s website is a great place to start. A personalized website with a cohesive design and strong content solidifies your expertise and presents the opportunity to demonstrate what sets your practice apart from the rest.
There are consequences of having a weak or negative online brand. In fact, 75 percent of web users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design1. If you have an outdated or unappealing website, chances are, your visitors will be left with a bad first impression about your vet practice. On the other hand, a professional online appearance builds credibility and trust among prospective and current client pet parents.
Neglecting your brand robs your practice of the opportunity to tell your story and sell your services to website visitors who are trying to determine whether your practice is a good fit. Brand neglect even gives your competitors the chance to get an upper hand and possibly attract away your prospective clients with their stronger brand presence.
In the long run, if you do not properly develop your brand online, your organic search ranking could fall making it more difficult for new clients to find your site online. Search engines are all about confidence – the confidence that the websites returned in the results will be the best options for the inquiry. In order to build that confidence, your practice must ensure search engines understand exactly who you are, what you offer and where your vet practice is located. These are all valuable elements of your brand, and when used inconsistently, they cut down your practice’s credibility.
Proper brand usage starts with developing a branding standard that outlines your overall branding package and how these pieces should be used on your website. This package could include your practice’s logo, colors, name and slogan. Besides your practice’s identifying marks, also think about use of color and appropriate stock images on your website and how those play into your overall brand. As graphic elements, logos should be used as an accent to your overall website design, rather than the main focus.
Though an eye-pleasing palette and professional logo are important to establishing the visual side of your brand, it’s just as important to consider what your marketing messaging communicates and how that contributes to creating a strong, well-rounded brand. Often, businesses will use their website to explain why they are the best, focusing on awards, education and technology, while glossing over the needs and concerns of their clients or patients. While it is important to create authority and demonstrate industry expertise with your website messaging, one must also find balance between communicating what your practice has and addressing the information and resource needs of your clients. Determine what your target audience is looking for – and use the messaging of your website to describe how your practice can meet their pet care needs.
Part of developing your online brand includes maintaining consistency among your eye practice’s name, address and phone number, commonly abbreviated as NAP. The NAP of your vet practice should be listed the same across the internet. This is one of the most influential factors in ranking highly on the maps section of Google and helps develop confidence from search engines.
The look and feel of your brand constitutes the bulk of what many consider to be the branding package. The marketing and branding elite challenge this idea and insist that your full brand makeup extends to what you do with your brand. Regular updates to your branded website demonstrate that you are up-to-date and care about your audience’s experience. Prospective clients might also make the connection that a well-cared for website is a sign you offer a similar high-level of care within your practice walls.
Social media platforms and third-party review websites should also be seen as part of your online brand. Manage these properties in the same manner as your website – the logo, colors and stock images should all be the same as they are on your website, in order to communicate brand consistency. While regularly updating your website is important, the same care should also be given to your social pages. A lack of updates is very obvious, which gives visitors less of a reason to follow your social platforms or check for new content.
For more help on branding and building a better website, check out our free resources.
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