How to build your brand and reputation as a new dentist

By: Jennifer Murphy

Everyone wants to be liked and we all want to be thought of in a positive light, especially when it comes to us as dentists and our dental practices. How does a dental school graduate entering into a whole new world develop that? How can a new and/or young dentist build a brand and reputation?

Seems a bit daunting, doesn’t it?

I’m here to tell you that it is possible and to give you some tips to help in your journey.

How to Build a Brand as a Dentist

It may be easy to think all dental offices are the same. However, most definitely they are not. One of the first steps in setting yourself apart is developing your brand.

A brand is defined as a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller’s good or service from those of other sellers. So ultimately the goal would be when someone thinks of a dentist they think of you and your practice – aka your brand.

You want to stand out among dental offices. A brand communicates not just the services, but also the experience you provide. A quote from Seth Godin on branding says this well,

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

Seth Godin

Creating a Logo

When we think of brands we often first think of a logo or symbol. Of course, as a dentist what first comes to mind is teeth or a tooth symbol. However, patients upon seeing this, a tooth, may not have the most positive thoughts come to mind so it may be wise to re-think what might seem like a first easy answer, using a tooth as a logo.

When creating your logo and brand you want it to align with your practice’s mission statement and values. Part of creating your brand is looking at your practice values as well as what type of patients it is you are seeking to reach. You want your brand to be specific and unique. Think about the feeling you want it to create and give to your patients – we want them to be thinking positive warm thoughts about your office vs pain and negativity.

How to Build a Good Reputation as a Dentist

Along with building a brand, you are building a reputation. And this goes for you whether you are an owner or an associate dentist.

I believe this, building a reputation, is one of those things that doesn’t necessarily happen overnight, but building a reputation happens by doing the right and small things over time.  Like building a home – it doesn’t go up in one day but by laying brick after brick each day. As Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.”

A big part of building a reputation has to do with consistency. Consistency with your patient care. Consistency with your team. We all can appreciate going somewhere and seeing the same person  – whether that’s someone like our doctor or the barista at our favorite coffee shop.

If you are providing consistent, excellent patient care and customer service, then it should be relatively easy to ask patients for their testimonials and reviews. This will help in building your reputation of course! Quality care and putting patients first will get you there.

Online Reviews

Most of us go to an online source to evaluate a business before choosing it. If you build many positive online reviews that definitely will go a long way!

Word of mouth certainly still works so building your reputation within your community is an excellent idea as well as online. This could be in the form of having an informational table at small community fairs. I have also heard of dentist going into their local schools to give students education on oral hygiene. Also getting involved in various community groups to help get your name and practice out there in any way is a great idea. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities because they are out there!

Build excitement in the practice. Get the team talking about you and your skills as a dentist. The patients will be positive and excited to meet you before you walk in! Of course, then you need to deliver on what is being said and provide a positive patient experience the patient can walk away from and want to tell others about. And then that goes back to building those good reviews online, and good old-fashioned word of mouth!

As for building your online brand and following there are several avenues. Google reviews, Facebook page, and reviews. A neat idea I read about is for those patients who aren’t as comfortable with the internet, have them write their review on a post-it note and post a photo of the post-it itself!

There are always ways to get around challenges.

Social Media

As we know with social media a post with words doesn’t attract attention but a picture or even better, a video! You can do a video testimonial by just recording on a cell phone. You want to find ways to communicate: create a blog, create content, and send out an e-mail newsletter. Make it a point to come across as communicating versus selling. Someone may not always be ready to come in but when they are in need, they will remember seeing that content, and communication and feel comfortable reaching out.  Hopefully, this is sparking some creativity and getting ideas flowing as the possibilities really are endless.

Having a working and active Facebook page is ideal. Also, an up-to-date website is a must too. When I am looking at a practice and don’t see either of those as a doc I see it as a red flag – that office isn’t putting itself out there, marketing itself, investing in itself, and staying current. Also, as we talked about when seeking out a business or even restaurant to eat, going online is our first route to information.

Social media can also help you build relationships with your patients. And, building relationships is a big part of building a strong, loyal patient base in a dental practice. Social media is a place you can connect with people, engage with them, and start to build trust.  

If you are starting to think this branding and reputation thing isn’t that important, I’ll leave you with two quotes to make you rethink that.

Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.

Steve Forbes

If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they will do business with you.

Zig Ziglar

Up Next: How One Bad Experience Can Destroy Your Dental Practice

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Jennifer Murphy

Jennifer Murphy

Dr. Jennifer Murphy graduated with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 2006 from The Ohio State University. She is a member in good standing of the American Dental Association, North Carolina Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Murphy earned her Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry in 2021. In addition to practicing general dentistry, she is also a practice coach for Benco Dental.