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Tale of Two Cities: Upscale vs. Down Low for Dental Branding

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

washington square park dental officeSan Francisco and Berkeley, CA, are only 20 minutes apart via the Bay Bridge. But for these two practices, their dental advertising, dental positioning and branding couldn’t be further apart. And, from a healthcare marketing perspective, both examples are properly tuned into their community spirit and embrace it in their office décor and branding message.

These two profiles happen to be dental offices, but the core concept applies equally as well to doctor marketing, medical group branding and other healthcare offices and facilities. These are exceptional illustrations of décor, branding and patient experience working together.

In Berkeley, an East Bay suburb, medical offices offer a laid-back, holistic-health environment with many as home offices. But in sophisticated San Francisco (population 805,000), medical offices showcase a decidedly modern motif.

These are polar-opposite marketing and branding approaches, but both are right-on with their neighborhood and patient base demographics.

Upscale: Washington Square Park Dental in San Francisco

Washington Square Park Dental is located in the heart of North Beach, San Francisco’s Italian neighborhood featuring trendsetting bars and coffee houses, one of the city’s largest churches, and iconic eateries including America’s oldest Italian restaurant. Most buildings in this area are decades to 100+ years old and constructed from wooden or stucco, so they’re quite different from a LEED-certified building that’s cutting-edge all the way.

As a contemporary counterpoint, this modern office features all of the accoutrements of a high-rise condominium...ceiling-mounted TV screens, comforting open-plan spaces and plenty of foliage. The décor is a facet of their branding that also helps deliver a more relaxing, and positive patient experience.

Not Upscale: Transcendentist® in Berkeley

Transcendentist® in BerkeleyThe innovative "experience" of this practice embraces the holistic personality of the Berkeley community. The dentist has pioneered eco-dentistry™, an approach that values the planet and his patients’ well-being and claims to be the first green dental office in the country by offering foot massages, meditative music, as well as smile design and state-of-the-art techniques.

For eco-dentistry, here is what the Transcendentist’s office does to lighten its footprint on the Earth: wallpapers made of reclaimed paper pulp and bark, floors are refinished with water-based polyurethane, carpets are made of untreated wool, the furniture is mostly made of recycled woods, and all of the office paper is recycled.

His décor is described as being reminiscent of a yoga studio or your best friend's living room. His lounge, according to the website, “can sometimes be a who's who of community activists, healers, creatives and visionaries.”

Aligning Your Décor and your Branding Message

Your medical or dental office location and decor are part of your branding, and your office can be a reflection of your community and the patients you serve. (And vice versa.)

Whether your office has a comfortable, no frills atmosphere, or trendy, cutting-edge architecture, this approach applies to any healthcare provider. To that end, your office theme should support--and not work against--your branding. If your branding is upscale in all of your other public faces, a "western/cowboy", “tooth fairy” or “art deco” motif might be a jolting disconnect.

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