Starting Up and Slowing Down

When I start the conversation with a new client about their website the first question I find myself asking is: What are your core values? What's your mission? Starting a new website is an announcement to the world, and all who look for you online. So, while it is extraordinarily fun to pick out colors and fonts and templates, I like to start with values and identity. 

This season, I’ve been working with Dr. Michael A. Kubiniec, D.D.S. to rebrand his dental practice to the local community of Batavia, NY and the surrounding areas. Along with Kristen Matteo of Crescendo Design Studio, we were tasked with doing a video and photo shoot bringing together staff and patients for interviews about their practice. Although our initial meeting gave us an overview of the practice, I realized as I sat down to write my interview questions for the video, that I did not truly know their brand identity.

It might seem silly to talk about “brand identity” for a dental practice in a small town. But it’s not. Branding is not reserved for the elite big-time corporations—it’s for everyone. If I took one thing away from my “Principles of Marketing” course in undergrad, it was this definition: “A brand is a collection of ideas.” This includes your ideas as a business owner, as well as all the ideas of your consumers. What people think about you and what you stand for define your brand. Of course, we all have lots of ideas.

To filter down the ideas we had so far, Kristen suggested we consider a method from Simon Sinek in his TED talk, “Start With Why.” Sinek's philosophy is threefold: identify what you do as a business, then how you do it, and that will unlock why you do what you do. As we began to ask those questions for Dr. Kubiniec’s practice, we identified the "what" as all the cosmetic, restorative, preventative and surgical services most dentists offer. When we asked how they went about doing those simple practices, we began to unearth their deeper brand identity.  We landed on these three "hows" or guiding principles:

1.) Materials & Technology
2.) Education & Experience
3.) Relationships & Family

They all pointed to one word: “Excellence.” That was the “why” behind this practice.

Now that it's all done, the process sounds so simple. As a whole, this market strategy process took several hours of meetings, but our slowing down paid off. The brand identity went on to inform the interview questions I asked and the photos Kristen took. When we arrived at the shoot, we knew exactly to look for and it's so evident in the final product we brought together. And that's the fun part.

So, if you want a new website, but aren't sure what to say, no problem. Every project needs a little market strategy. Sometimes to start up we just have to slow down.

Images courtesy of Crescendo Design Studio.