Running a business is a difficult endeavor, which explains why so many companies don't make it. In his book Beauty and the Business, Dr. Gregory Buford shares important insight for physicians on running their own aesthetic medical practice, and talks about how important it is to separate yourself from everyone else through branding.
Dr. Buford describes 'branding' in terms of companies we all know. "Branding is a very complex phenomenon and it's not simply a matter of saying this is my brand. If you look for example at Nike(TM), Nike has a very well know brand. It's ingenious - and first and foremost the brand identity is the Nike swoosh. We all can recognize it no matter if you speak the language of the country you're in currently or if you don't. It's the same thing with Coca-Cola, with the Olympics. These are all branded, but going back to Nike - Nike is also a culture so it's creating a whole sense of identity that is a very, very, very broad based branding effort."
He says that aesthetic practices can follow this guide by being consistent. "So how do I separate myself from the herd, so to speak? I have a brand logo. I think a brand logo is critical, you need to have something that looks different than your other competitors, you need to have a look and feel so that anytime you advertise, you use the same colors you use the same look you use a very, very similar copy. You're consistent.... You create a brand - a brand itself is created through repetition. You can't merely say one day this is my brand and everybody follow it. It doesn't work that way. People need to see your brand over and over and over again for that to sink in. I can tell you Nike, I don't know how many years it took or even Nordstrom's I mean, when we think of Nordstrom's, the Nordstrom's brand is essentially identified with customer service, it's a whole culture."
Dr. Buford says to begin with, you must decide who your target market is. "What I would tell anyone starting out is identify who you want to work with. Identify the patients. Are you going do facelifts? Are you going to do noses? Are you going to do breast, body - what have you - because your brand has to appeal to that specific clientele."
Next, Dr. Buford says you must determine what is going to bring in the clientele that you want to service. "If you're working with breast augmentation patients that are in their in their 20's and 30's, you're going to want a very hip, very sexy, very edgy brand. A very droll conservative brand is not going to attract anyone. Now if you're working with patients that are in there 50's, 60's and 70's - they're probably going to be attracted to a more conservative, more ground brand image."
It is critical to make sure your brand image permeates throughout your business. As Dr. Buford describes, "When I say a brand image, that image is going to consist of your brand logo again, your website look and feel, the manner in which you speak, the manner in which all of your collateral is presented. It is a very complex phenomenon but first and foremost you need to identify, the practitioner needs to identify how they want to be viewed and who they want to work with. Once you know who you want to work with you can begin developing your brand."
Dr. Buford says you must start out branding yourself, or you will just blend in. "As I mention in the book, don't start your practice without establishing your brand identity. If you do that, you're simply another board certified plastic surgeon, and there's a lot of us out there and there's a lot of guys that have no differentiation. It's separating yourself from the herd, and again, getting back to Nike - there are a lot of people who make tennis shoes but Nike stands out. It's amazing, I mean they've created a whole culture, just do it, the Nike swoosh, the Michael Jordan commercial I mean we all remember them. Volkswagen, same thing. They've created a whole culture around Volkswagen, and let's face it, it's simply a car, but we remember these very edgy, very humorous Volkswagen commercials. They've created a whole image and they're attracting a certain person."
Watch Dr. Buford speak about how to successfully brand your aesthetic practice: