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Next Thinking | Article 2

What’s in our name? Building a brand identity.

Ever wondered what it takes to create a brand such as Next Practice? Marketing Manager Jess Grimshaw shares her take on building a successful brand and delves into the secrets behind Next Practice’s own identity.

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” - Steve Forbes

It is pretty much a guarantee that every new business will invest in creating a stand-out name, ever hopeful it is the competitive edge to win precious seconds of attention from the target audience. It is also likely that a new business might even go as far as to create a logo. However, the questionable piece of the puzzle is how much time and money to invest into these core attributes. Evidence suggests it is entirely inconsistent and subjective, across any industry.

If you now have your name and your logo, you might be so bold to think you now have a ‘brand’. However, a logo can be the emblem for a business, it is not the entirety of a brand image. In fact, its creation is just one small part to having a strong brand identity.

A brand also doesn’t just happen. For us at Next Practice, we have invested as much time and energy into our brand as we did into building our custom technology and operating system. Why? Because for us a brand isn’t just an outward perception of our promise of the experience or product we will deliver on, but a way to live. It defines our culture, what we believe and what we stand for and what other brands we associate or disassociate ourselves with.

Fortunately, we were lucky enough to have our founder Dr Sam Prince at the helm of the creative process. Over a decade of experience in successfully building businesses from scratch, allowed him to apply all sorts of key learnings as we went on the mammoth journey to define our identity.

As a powerful storyteller, we lent on his direction to look at how to craft the narrative of our brand’s vision and in particular how it was driven to stimulate all of the 5 senses. This was something Sam learnt in the hospitality industry - a restaurant’s identity is the cumulative sum of what guests see, taste, smell, feel and hear. It suddenly seemed obvious - why couldn’t this be applied to a clinic environment? We believe that the tangible and intangible features help us differentiate ourselves and reinforce our quality and value to patients. From the curated acoustic playlist, the use of soft, welcoming material on the front door handrails to the fresh fruit and tea you are served on arrival.

In fact, this idea of translating quality more so than simply a personality isn’t a new concept when it comes to branding. The term itself comes from the Norse word “brandr” which means “to burn.” The modern definition took shape in the 1500s when it was used to define the mark ranchers burned on their cattle. During this time the brand mark became synonymous with ownership. By the 1800s, brand symbols began to represent not ownership, but quality.

It isn’t too say that personality traits or characteristics of a brand should be all together forgotten. Simply, there is just no time in this modern, time-poor era to be a faceless brand. At the very least, a new business should be asking themselves; “what did we set out to do? What did we set out to improve or solve? What are we the alternative to?” We also spent the time drilling down further into creating an actual soul for our brand, asking questions like ‘what would Next Practice be like to meet at a party?

In fact, a lot of the work we have done to build our personality will never see the light of day. For us, its creation was never just a nice to have but a necessity into that core build of our belief and culture. We even spent a great deal of time looking at who we were not, and who the enemy was to our mission. Identifying an enemy, brings together people with a common mind. To become a part of the target audience’s social identity, you have to make them feel different than the people using a competing brand. It also provides a clear and present focus. An obvious example of a brand creating an ‘enemy’ would be Apple and competing PC brands.

When you’ve invested the time, energy and even money into creating a brand… then what?

Well consistency is key. While 95% of organisations have branding guidelines, only a quarter of them are enforced (Lucidpress.)

Precision is also principal. Even when you think no one will even notice such a small detail, every little piece accounts to a bigger picture. Our logo is an example of this. For us it is a living and breathing organ. A vital instrument of our brand that keeps us alive. It imitates the healthy connection between the heart and the lungs – replicated through a beating cross and breathing fingerprint. Because we see it as a living organ, the animated logo should always be first preference to be used. You can see it on our website, on our patient facing doctor’s dashboard and even subtly beating on the doors of our flagship clinic.

Evolution is also critical. You have to self-analyse – what did we do wrong, where did we let it slip? Even the large, well established brands have to do this. Coca-Cola for instance after 133 years, is no longer tied to its old brand rules. As the times change, it is required to take unprecedented risks on innovation, acquisition and experimentation.

Do you see branding as a self-inspiring elevator pitch? Is it up to fate as to whether a business will have a strong identity over time? Remember that whether you intentionally create a brand identity or ignore it, even a name or logo presents an image to customers and prospects and can be make or break as to whether a customer chooses you in the first place or becomes loyal to you in the future.

Here’s a snapshot of key brand features from our brand guidelines.

Our purpose

To dismantle assembly line healthcare.

Our vision

Our vision is nothing less than providing the best healthcare experience on planet earth.

Our philosophy

Good yields being with healthy plants and healthy plants grow from vigorous roots.

What is Next Practice like to meet at a party?

  • Unpretentious and genuine
  • Has substance and vigour
  • Welcoming and embracing
  • Composed and present

Our logo broken down:

The fingerprint is a symbol – our mark on the world. It is a symbol of trust, a lasting impression, dependable, inclusive of everyone, consistent, authentic, human.

The cross is a compass – navigating patients to care. Humanity, protection, neutrality, unity, hope, care-givers, health.