The mark of a truly exceptional brand is the uniformity and consistency that aligns all its marketing and assets. Think about brands that you can recognize anywhere like Coca-Cola, Ford, Amazon, or even Starbucks. Whether or not you like and support these brands, you can identify them right away. There are even mobile apps and trivia games based solely around recognizing iconic brands’ logos and fonts.
As a practice owner, you want to ensure that all representations of your business are accurate and on point (or “on brand”). This goes beyond just your marketing and includes marketing content from other organizations too. Most practices pay annual fees to be featured in various local marketing. For example, you advertise in your Chamber of Commerce directory, church bulletin, YMCA program guide, and local community college registry. Each year you send them your business information and logo. Then, they place it on their marketing, and usually that’s all the input. You don’t necessarily receive a rough draft of their marketing materials before they are printed, so it’s almost impossible to check for mistakes.
Now, if you had brand guidelines, then you could send those to the organization as a check point to ensure their marketing is on brand for your practice. Even if you don’t get to review the rough drafts, the organization has a document that shows exactly how you want your practice to be represented. Also, if they don’t follow your brand guidelines, you might be able to ask for a reprint or refund.
Brand guidelines can take a variety of forms. First, create a Word document with details on how to present your logo and business. Typical brand guidelines will include:
Different types, sizes, colors, and requirements. Be specific—a good graphic designer will know exactly what hex colors your logo uses, what the minimum size is (if your logo is too small or squished it could be hard to read), and how it looks best.
Most practices have a full, legal business name and several variations of that name. Your brand guidelines should state your practice names and proper usage. For example, if you have a small or iconic logo, then you would typically want your full business name used so that people can identify your practice. Similarly, some practices often drop the LLC or another suffix to simplify their name. Lastly, if your practice uses an abbreviated name, then you want to be specific about what that abbreviation is and when to use it.
Website URL, social media accounts etc. For digital marketing, this could include links to your account profiles. For print media, this could include the platform’s icon followed by your account. A common mistake is printing a campaign with social media icons and not including your account profiles. For print campaigns, the icons should always be followed by the account (@PracticePromos for Twitter) or URL (https://www.facebook.com/practicepromotionsptmarketing).
Address, phone number, fax number etc. By providing your contact information, you avoid that risk that someone could look it up and inadvertently insert the wrong information. If you address has a suite or unit #, be sure to include that in the correct formatting. Some practices that have multiple phone numbers such as a dedicated appointment line or referral coordinator. Thus, you can include all relevant numbers in your brand guidelines. However, it can be helpful to say “for general marketing communications use: XXX-XXX-XXXX” to avoid any confusion. Keep the area code with the number to streamline calls. For fax numbers, generally these aren’t need for marketing purposes unless you are targeting physicians. Not including fax numbers helps you avoid having too much contact information.
Creating your practice’s brand guidelines can provide internal marketing benefits as well. If you hire new marketing staff, they have immediate access to all your information and styles. Consider keeping separate internal brand guidelines. A list of logins (usernames and passwords) for your website’s CMS, social media profiles easily maintains access.
For help creating your brand guidelines and marketing plans, or to find out what the RIGHT marketing budget is, check out our free PT Marketing Guide!
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