personal online brand for doctors

The life-changing moment when you become your own brand

The moment you apply this failproof brand logic to your private practice, you will create a spectacular change. Given the tripled turnovers and skyrocketing status transformations we have witnessed and have helped create, I dare call it a life-changing transition.

personal online brand for doctors

The life-changing moment when you become your own brand

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

January 11, 2022

Why create a personal online brand?

brand creation for doctors

Before we dive into the how-to side of things, let’s inspect why building a personal online brand for doctors in private practice is now an essential element of modern medicine. We know that the majority of patients use Google search throughout their patient journey: from the moment they experience a symptom, all the way through to the day they prepare for treatment or surgery under the care of a specialist.

Patient choice is heavily influenced by what happens online. About 70% of patients actively shop before they choose a specialist, independent of what the GP told them or what was on the referral.

In this new healthcare setting, you can no longer thrive on the basis of a good reputation alone.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Your personal online brand consists of your reputation plus your brand image. If your online presence doesn’t reflect and represent the characteristics of your reputation, then the online version of your reputation is not working for you"

Let’s say you are known to be an excellent surgeon. Patients praise you for being calm and a really good listener. Your team is known to go the extra mile when they help the patient prepare for surgery and during recovery. All of that is your reputation. If that isn’t reflected in the layout, the graphics, the copy and the images on your website, then the effect of your reputation is lost on someone who is in the process of choosing a specialist, doing online research. Their perceived impression of your reputation could be based on an outdated, almost empty website that doesn’t show up well on their mobile. Or worse, they never found you when they googled for local specialists.

Your personal online brand is the digital content that supports your professional reputation. And that is why it can’t be treated as the discount pack of cheap office pens you pick up at the local office supplies store.

What makes a really strong medical brand?

USP creation for doctors

There is no golden rule about choosing your personal name as a brand, versus creating an umbrella brand such as “Coast Orthopaedics” or “West Obstetrics”. The main consideration here is your vision for the future. Do you see yourself as the main player, or does your practice become a business where other specialists are doing the work? The latter becomes an avenue where you build your practice as an asset, not just the vehicle for your personal work.

A strong brand is defined by many other aspects beyond the logo and the brand colours. You want your patients to leave satisfied with the experience. The way you reach that level of satisfaction is linked to your mission.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"Your brand reflects what you see as your mission. To help patients get back on their feet faster, with great outcomes and an experience of genuine care? Make sure that is reflected in the imagery and the copy you publish."

If your Unique Selling Proposition is your deep understanding of sports injuries because you run marathons and part of your brand is all about getting runners back on their feet after an injury, then use that authenticity when you build your brand positioning.
personal online brand for doctors

A strong brand tells us what you stand for. If you are unsure what you can turn into your USP, remind yourself that very few of your patients have done Medical School. Being a good ‘teacher’ and being good at clarifying symptoms, conditions, treatments, surgeries and recovery processes would be a great starting point if you had to choose a strong USP right here on the spot, don’t you think? 

Two brilliant side effects of a strong online brand

brand creation for doctors

What you will see is that becoming a brand as a doctor has some interesting side effects.

  1. A strong online presence and a clear brand positioning can offset any negative comments, remarks or reviews that are floating around online. They can’t protect you from a major media crisis or the fallout of a serious professional error, but what your online brand will do is dilute any isolated negative feedback that someone posted about your practice. This article about reputation management for doctors covers that technique in more detail.
  2. Your brand positioning can become an advocacy tool. In this article, Dr Harsha Chandraratna provides excellent context about obesity and also discusses the social stigma and the impact on the healthcare system. Patients learn more about what you stand for, far beyond the practicalities of booking surgery. That is how a strong online brand for doctors becomes a reputation management tool that makes a huge difference.

The impact of starting to think like a brand is spectacular when you run a private health practice. On top of what we have discussed so far, you are constantly producing quality content that Google can index and flag, so your overall visibility as an authority in your field will keep growing. You can see this process in action on two of our flagship Digital Practice live strategies: Dr Tamara Hunter and The Woom.

A better website or social media?

online marketing for doctors

Ideally, your online brand is supported by a quality website and a strong social media presence. But what does that mean?

A quality website
There are plenty of amazing resources in our Grow! online magazine on what you can do to make your medical website visible when patients do a local search for information about your specialty. A quality website has a responsive, healthy, fast-loading design and plenty of optimised content that Google can index to make you rank well in the search results.

A strong social media presence
When you choose to be on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, the main question is: why? Why are you publishing? Take the time to inspect who you will be communicating with, what platform they are using and what type of information you can share here to achieve your goals. Cosmetic surgeons share images on Instagram, fertility specialists discuss fertility diets on Facebook and orthopaedic surgeons share their thoughts about anterior hip replacement with general practitioners via LinkedIn. Those three examples are a good match between the conversation and the chosen platform.

It’s not either-or when you weigh up the benefits of a quality website vs a strong social media presence. When patients are using Google, they have a specific search intent and that is where a quality website gives you immediate patient leads. Social media amplifies word-of-mouth and creates leadership or educator profiles.

How do you make your brand come alive?

brand awareness for doctors

If your brand is a shiny logo and an expensive reception desk, yet your staff turnover is dramatic and the practice culture rather hectic… guess what happens to your reputation.

Making your brand come alive is hard work. And I am no longer talking about your website content here, this is the hard work you deliver as a team in your practice and at the hospital, day after day. It’s that constant focus on medical excellence and on the human side of things:

  • Really offering genuine care as often as you can.
  • Listening. Really listening and being fully present when the patient wants to feel heard.
  • Acknowledging the patient.
  • Creating and maintaining an atmosphere of respect, also when patients hear you talk to team members.
  • Looking beyond the symptoms, conditions and procedures and demonstrating that your practice is there to support the whole person and maybe even their relatives.

This ties in with your recruitment processes, your team evaluation procedures and your daily work culture in the practice. It’s an exciting area where Practice Managers can make a huge difference by creating and developing a business culture, so the surgeon or specialist can fully focus on delivering excellence in consultations, in theatre and in the recovery ward, working directly with the patient.

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Are you thinking of ramping up the brand positioning for your practice? Are you in doubt whether you are the brand or the owner of a brand that becomes an asset over time? Speak to us about the roadmap to successful online brand creation for doctors. We look forward to working with you.

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