What’s in a name?

April 2019 – Vol. 38, No. 3

Why creating a strong brand is essential for the ENT practice

Administration Support Community for ENT (ASCENT)

Your practice has a name, of course, and a logo to go along with it. But what exactly is your practice’s brand? A well-designed logo might look appealing, but it’s the emotion evoked, such as trust, comfort, and personalism, that makes it stick in a person’s mind.

According to Forbes magazine, “your ‘brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.” A brand should be the full package of a company: images, colors, mission, goals, and how you plan to accomplish those. Every piece of the branding puzzle comes into play when showcasing your practice to the public. A practice’s brand starts with the visual of a logo and continues through to ease of making an appointment, interactions with staff, and level of care.

The former Association of Otolaryngology Administrators (AOA) recently embarked on a re-branding journey. Through the years, it became evident that the abbreviation “AOA” had gotten lost in the alphabet soup of related medical association names. How can the organization distinguish itself within otolaryngology and the healthcare industry as a whole? How can AOA expand its reach to educate those who don’t know about us while maintaining a strong 37-year history?

After a yearlong effort, the AOA is now ASCENT—the Administrator Support Community for ENT. Research and an external branding expert allowed ASCENT to realize that it had to steer away from the A- and O-heavy names to differentiate from so many others with similar acronyms. Transitioning from using the word “otolaryngology” to “ENT” opens the door to new possibilities, as it is a more commonly searched term. ASCENT is also respectful of its rich AOA roots, continuing with a strong A-focused logo and modernized green. For ASCENT, it is important to emphasize that we aren’t changing what we do; we’re simply adapting to stay current and keep up with the needs of our members.

Branding is important now, more than ever, to differentiate from your peers and to stay competitive in an ever-changing healthcare landscape. Below are a few tips to consider when improving your practice’s brand and solidifying your identity within ENT:

What emotions do you wish to evoke when someone is exposed to your brand? Things to take into consideration are color, word choice, and tone. If you work in a pediatric setting, use family-friendly words and fun colors. Those who work with a geriatric population might want to opt for soothing colors and a caring tone.

Create a name and image that reflect your practice’s values while also educating the public about what you do. Do you provide ancillaries? If so, are these reflected in your name or logo mark? Strong visual elements will help create an emotional tie to your practice, and this will help with future recognition.

Does your practice name have the phrase “ENT” or “otolaryngology” in it? The public might not be educated enough on the formal “otolaryngology” to understand that it is the practice of ear, nose, and throat when attempting to find a physician. Do research about what search terms your patients are using to find the services you offer. Knowing your audience will help shape the direction of your brand, making you more easily searchable in an age where people turn to the internet for guidance.

Strong mission and vision statements tie into your overall branding strategy. Your mission statement should define your practice’s WHO, HOW, and WHY you exist. These are your practice’s goals and objectives. A mission statement should complement the vision, outlining WHERE you want to be in the future—a pathway, of sorts, for where you want your practice to grow.

While a lot of healthcare marketing is digital-focused, don’t stop there! Ensure every piece of collateral in your office is branded with your name, logo, and color scheme. From reminder postcards and waiting room signage to paper forms and informational brochures—even logoed scrubs and professional wear—emblazon everything for continued recognition. Include your vision statement or a tagline on items where possible to reinforce your purpose and goals.

ASCENT, formerly AOA, is a support community and resource network for ENT practice management leaders. The community consists of invaluable resources, education, and people to enhance the quality and sustainability of the ENT practice. Representing more than 1,000 professionals across the country, ASCENT enables ENT leaders to advance their practices in the business of medicine. Learn more about our new look at www.askASCENT.org/OurStory.