Brand Rx for Professional Services

Some things you don’t want to see at the doctor’s office:

  • An old, rusty exam table
  • A scary plastic apron hanging on the back of the door
  • A random cart left in the exam room with an old machine on it that looks like something they punished Randall McMurphy with in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • Your doctor using his Palm Pilot to assist in your diagnosis

To be fair, I encountered the items on the above list at two different doctors’ offices recently. The kicker? Both are competent, smart physicians but they left around a bunch of warning signals that scared the bejezus out of me as a consumer. (Yikes! A PDA?!? I came to you because I couldn’t diagnose myself on the internet.)

The good news? All of these are simple things to correct because they are the kind of branding issues that the business world deals with every day. You wouldn’t want folding chairs in your waiting room, right? Make sure you check for potholes throughout your customer experience – especially if you provide a professional service and even more so if you’re in a mainstay industry that you think doesn’t require marketing (like medicine).

Case in point – I went and got my haircut at a new place a couple of weeks ago. After we were done, the stylist said, “We offer free touch-ups to all of our clients every two weeks so you should definitely stop back and take advantage of it. AND it’s free.” How crazy-fun is that? You bet I’m gonna come back in for a free touch up (I had to ask for a definition – it’s sides and back – basically, everything below the top of your head – between 4-5 week haircuts). And the chances are pretty good too that I’ll fall for setting a follow-up appointment (the non-free kind) after my touch-up.

Branding isn’t just for soda and sports cars anymore. And there are other ways of building great brands beyond taking out Super Bowl Ads with a huge budget. Actually, the book I’m reading defined it best by saying a brand is “shorthand for a complex set of commercial attributes, emotions, and stories.” And there are lots of ways to tell stories about you and your business. Try adding a bit of extra care or zaniness into the experience of doing business with you. It can come in the form of a garbage man who always walks the cans back up to the house or a doctor who paints his exam rooms an interesting color and has free Wi-Fi.