By Keshav Bhat, OD
August 7, 2019
Rebranding a well-established practice with a new name and logo can be a steep challenge, but when done correctly, can prime your practice to move in a more profitable direction.
Here’s why and how my practice, which has been in operation for 12 years, rebranded with a new name and logo in May of this year.
Why Do It?
Rebranding with a new name is a lengthy process, and not for the faint of heart. Some reasons for doing this:
Acquiring an old practice.
Expanding beyond your previous services or adding new associate(s).
Changing your reputation to turn around negative perceptions.
Merging with another practice.
Known now as Union Family Eye Associates , we were known until this May as Austin Village Eye Care, a name derived from the shopping village we were located – which in 2007 seemed like an easy way for patients to tell where we were located.
• Rebrand at the right time
• Know what you’re getting into
• Have a clear vision
• Do your research
• Rethink your audience
• Create an actionable plan
• Communicate clearly with current and future patients
–Keshav Bhat, OD
Over the last 12 years we have grown from seeing 1-2 patients a day to an average of 18 a day, drawing many patients from towns in the larger area where we are located, Union County, N.C.
The reach of Google as a powerful draw could not be overstated. We often were asked if we were in Texas.
We got many phone calls from Texas asking for an appointment in which we chuckled to say that it’s a long drive to North Carolina!
We also are considering adding another OD to accommodate the demand for more appointments. For that reason, we decided to add “associates” to our new name.
What’s in a Name?
The name of your practice is the foundation for the rest of your rebranding process. In this internet era, your practice name will represent your brand, so it should not be a last minute or rash decision. The two most common options are to name your practice after yourself or try to create a completely unique brand.
We considered (a) the geographic expanse of our patient base (b) the fact that we see patients of all ages and (c) the aforementioned desire to add a second OD.
We decided to exchange “Austin” in our name for “Union” to reflect our county, as well as to connote “coming together” or “state of harmony.”
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The second word in our name, “family,” addresses our expanded patient base, and “eye associates” gives us the desired flexibility to incorporate practice expansion.
We had to think carefully about the implications of this name change from a tax perspective. The concern for how a name change might impact our tax status sent us on a online search, where we found this:
“Under North Carolina law, any business that seeks to use a name other than the name of its owners, or other than the name under which it was formed, must file for a DBA. Specifically, such businesses will need to file official paperwork in the office of the register of deeds of such county where the business is located.”
I would strongly encourage anyone considering a name change to talk to an attorney or at least check online for state-specific laws.
Next, we headed to our Google Business Listing to make the change there – this is of utmost importance to keep your place in Google’s search engine and drive searches to your practice. Keep your existing reviews (this was particularly important, as we had nearly 200 five-star reviews).
Here is a screenshot of the Google Business Listing for the month of May – when we rebranded (even as they searched for my old business name specifically):
Changing our business name in Facebook was tricky because Facebook has complicated regulations controlling this process. After much searching, I used the outline HERE, and with lot of patience, it was achieved.
Choose a Memorable Logo
Images speak louder than words, and often your logo is more likely to be remembered than your practice name. As we considered rebranding, we wanted to ensure that all the small details aligned. The colors, shape and features of your logo all have meaning, so we knew it was worth hiring someone who could get it perfect.
We were fortunate to find a young graphic designer who provided multiple design concepts, resulting in our final choice. The image looks both like an eye and a heart symbol – typically referred to as a symbol of love, a feeling we want to associate with our practice. We do love our patients, and wanted to show this. We kept the same color scheme as our previous brands – brown and green – earthy colors that emphasize our tradition as an eco-friendly practice.
Help Patients Get Used to Your New Name
Most people don’t like change, and some of your loyal patients will be uneasy with your rebranding if they are caught unaware. Even once you’ve transitioned into your new identity, it will still be critical to answer calls with both your new and old practice name. Many patients will have questions and need assurance that the level of service they’re used to will not change.
We filed our name change on a Friday. The weekend was spent updating the web site URL, setting up online redirects and replacing every occurrence of the current name with the new one. A pop-up on the homepage of our web site announced the change. A mass e-mail was sent through patient communication software Weave announcing our new name and welcoming questions.
In addition, I had to replace our practice name in the EHR, update our voicemail and on-hold message and finalize logo specifications from the sign vendor (after obtaining and agreeing in writing to signage guidelines from our town, Charlotte, N.C. – as it is strict about how large signs can be).
Attracting new patients was one of the important aspects of creating a new brand. Our name, logo and slogan were chosen with this in mind. For this reason, knowing the demographics of our area was a necessity. Baby Boomers and Generation X are often more interested in traditional names, or simpler practice titles that feel safe to them. In contrast, Millennials are interested in individuality and uniqueness. Our use of practice metrics with tools like Glimpse helped us understand this data better.
Cost of a New Name & Logo
We used a freelance designer to design our logo, letterhead, thank-you cards and business cards. This work cost us $400.
Signage on the inside and outside added up to $1,200.
Printing our business cards, trade-show cloth, and other marketing material, was about $250.
Reordering cleaning cloth for eyewear and small spray was limited to 500 pieces, and resulted in an expense of another $1,000
Staff training required little time. My team was super-excited about this change, and placed little cards in front of every phone with our new greeting and office welcome. After a few stumbles and giggles we were on our way!
Keshav Bhat, OD, is the owner of Union Family Eye Associates in Charlotte, N.C. To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org