A Personal Brand for Physicians: Why You Need One and How to Build It

A Personal Brand for Physicians: Why You Need One and How to Build It
Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. Jeff Bezos

When you hear “personal brand” you are likely to think of celebrities, famous influencers on Instagram and YouTube, TV stars, and sports professionals. However, today, personal branding is seen as a thoughtful, honest self-assessment that helps specialists from any domain communicate their value and build a reputation. 

A strong brand is your advantage on the market. In some industries, a personal brand might even be more important than you think. Considering the highly saturated and competitive healthcare market, having a personal brand is a must for medical practitioners.

A personal brand can help you accelerate your career, find a mentor or become one, generate income, and even eliminate the need to job hunt! In this blog post, we consider all the benefits of a personal brand for a physician and how to define, develop, and broadcast your brand to the public. But first, let’s start with the basics. 

What is a personal brand?

There are two terms you’ll encounter while working on your brand — personal brand and personal branding. They seem similar, yet they describe different aspects. Personal branding is the process and strategy of developing and maintaining your reputation, while a personal brand is the aim to strive for and revolves around what other people say about you. 

A brand tells a story that builds a relationship between a customer and a product. It includes:

  • Positioning
  • Benefits for customers
  • Personality
  • Your aspirations and self-images
  • Emotional connection

Your personal brand consists of your experience, skills, expertise, competencies, actions, and achievements within a community, industry, or marketplace.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. Branding is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining the reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization. Personal branding is the effort to communicate and present your value to the world.

Today, many people are overly concerned with their branding yet under-concerned with their brand. A brand is an emotional connection with your audience, while branding is at the surface level.

To sum up: A personal brand revolves around what other people say about you. Personal branding revolves around what you say about yourself.

The benefits of a personal brand for physicians

As mentioned in an article in the Harvard Business Review, personal branding is seen as a positive way to differentiate oneself in the American workplace. The benefits of having a personal brand are vast, from adding value to your services to letting you take control of how you’re perceived by others and making them understand the unique contribution you offer. Besides, a personal brand can help you:

  • Distinguish your practice from hundreds of competitors
  • Focus your efforts and establish your marketing direction
  • Create an emotional connection between you and your patients
  • Build your reputation, positive image, and credibility
  • Network with like-minded professionals and increase the frequency of professional referrals
  • Extend your visibility and public awareness

The best way to grow your impact, influence, and revenue is to build a personal brand. Go on reading and find our tips on how to build your personal brand below.

How to define your brand

Defining your brand helps you understand your services and position on the market, thus making your brand stronger and more attractive. Besides, you get to pick your target audience, which is a crucial step in marketing your brand. Since many physicians tend to think they serve all patients, they end up marketing their services to no one. 

In order to define your brand, you need to answer several questions, including:

  • How would you describe your service in two to five words?
  • How does your service benefit your patients?
  • What is your brand personality, and how will patients relate to it?

Answer these questions fast using simple language. To make it easier for you to answer them, take a look at our analysis of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital brand.

What is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?

It’s a specialty hospital focused on pediatric cancer and life-threatening diseases in children.

What St. Jude features benefit the audience?

  • Advance basic, translational and clinical research and treatment of childhood diseases
  • High cure rates (over 80% of children with cancer survive)
  • Largest pediatric bone marrow transplant program in the country
  • World-class physicians and researchers
  • Cutting-edge research and clinical care facilities
  • Thanks to an efficient fundraising organization, families never receive a bill from St. Jude
  • Collaborations with scientists and physicians around the world

What is St. Jude’s brand persona?

St. Jude is your friend and a caring expert that understands your pain and helps treat and defeat life-threatening diseases in the dawn of life.

As soon as you answer the questions above, follow five steps to create and manage your personal physician brand.

Step 1. Understand your strengths

Your brand is all about how you make patients feel. If you make your patients feel good, they will remember you and associate you with great service. To always please your patients, you need to find your strengths, develop them, and enhance them.

A brand pyramid can assist in clarifying your strengths and developing a unique selling proposition, brand story, and overall marketing strategy. A brand pyramid consists of five tiers:

personal branding for physicians
  • Brand idea. This is your brand’s essence and your brand’s DNA, summarized in a short statement of what the brand stands for and the underlying reason why patients care about your brand.
  • Brand/service persona. How would you describe your brand if it were a person? What are your values?
  • Emotional benefits of your service. How do your patients feel while receiving your service? What is the quality of your service?
  • Functional benefits of your service. What benefits do patients get from your service?
  • Service features and attributes. These are outstanding characteristics and features of the service you provide — they’re what make your patients like, want, and continue to use your services. 

Boil down everything you know about your brand to these five categories and you’ll see how easy it is to outline your strengths and set your brand ahead of others in the market.

Step 2. Define your unique value proposition

You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something to someone. Andrew Davis

A unique value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It defines who you are, what you offer, and what makes you different. Having a solid UVP can help you set yourself apart. Healthcare is a cautious, risk-averse industry. This is one of the reasons why so many healthcare brands are nearly identical. Differentiating yourself from the tried and true is risky but has the potential to make you memorable.

A good value proposition explains how you solve patients’ problems, what benefits patients can expect, and why they should come to you. Here are the must-have elements of your unique value proposition:

personal branding for physicians

You can use the structure above on your website, social media, business cards, and ads to communicate your value proposition to your target audience in all possible ways. 

Step 3. Be an expert at what you do 

People want to work with the best professionals and receive the best service. Thus, you’ve got to be the best. Chances are there’s someone else out there who knows what you know and does what you do. You need to find your competitive advantage — for instance, being the most knowledgeable, most frequently cited, and most frequently mentioned expert. 

As soon as you become a source of information for others, you know that your personal branding efforts are going well.

To become a thought leader, you need to constantly grow your expertise. First, stay up to date within your healthcare industry niche, visit industry-specific seminars, and follow relevant LinkedIn groups and other online forums. Second, share your knowledge with your audience by creating engaging and insightful content. Make yourself accessible and visible. Your content may come in different shapes and forms: 

  • Blog posts 
  • Podcasts 
  • Health checklists 
  • Interviews 
  • Live streams with industry experts 
  • Books 
  • Educational videos 
  • Online courses 
  • Webinars

Besides, it’s a good idea to consider following sites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to learn about interview opportunities and spread your expertise. If you aim to become the person journalists and media outlets turn to when they need help, you’ll need to build a community around your brand and increase your chances of becoming an authority.

Step 4. Define your customers 

When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one. Meredith Hill Seth

Business owners develop customer profiles (also known as buyer personas) to identify who their ideal customers are. Customer profiles help you develop marketing messages that appeal to customers’ problems and needs, attracting customers to your business. Besides, having a narrow audience, you’ll face less competition, offer a targeted experience to your customers, and improve customer relations.

To define your customers, you can audit your online followers, collect the data you already have in your CRM, survey clients, etc. The customer audit will help you see patterns to describe your ideal customer: their demographics, psychographics, interests, purchasing habits, problems, and fears.

Demographic attributes reveal the age, gender, race, ethnicity, and religion of your ideal customers. Knowing all these characteristics will help you develop services that your patients find useful. If your audience is 50- to 65-year-old patients, for instance, they’ll find some medical services and checkups more attractive, such as preventive care tests, cancer screenings, high blood pressure screenings, and osteoporosis screenings.

Psychographics offer a deeper understanding of your customers’ beliefs and values. They include things like:

  • Activities: Netflix, swimming, cooking healthy meals
  • Lifestyle: Introvert, extrovert, eco lifestyle, outdoor enthusiast
  • Values: Family, career 
  • Aspirations: Work-life balance, fitness
  • Pain points and fears: Low-quality medical services, hidden charges

Psychographic categories allow you to align your services with the way people think, their pain points, and their emotional triggers.

Socioeconomic attributes are related to education, income, neighborhood, and household size. They help you see what category your best patients fall into, manage your prices, and better meet your customers’ expectations.

Geographic information helps you not only target your patients with relevant ads but also get information about the culture in their area.

As soon as you collect the data above, you’ll be able to better understand your patients’ needs, wants, goals, and challenges, frame the benefits of your services to match your clients’ needs, and identify marketing channels to promote your services effectively with the right message in the right places.

You can create several target audience profiles to embrace all possible customers and tailor a variety of messages. Here are some ideas of information to include in your own customer profile template:

personal brand for physician

The more you know about your customers, the better the chance you have of personalizing your messages to them and marketing your brand as a physician. 

Step 5. Be consistent with your brand

Consistency builds confidence. Vanessa McGovern

Your audience will learn to recognize your brand after they’ve had a few experiences with it. That means all content that you produce — blogs, podcasts, lectures, websites, social media accounts, etc. — should be in line with your brand. This includes not only using your logo, color palette, and other visual elements across your website and social networks but also your overall stance across all platforms. Be consistent in your tone of communication. For example, if you communicate complicated medical information in a simple way and in general language, you shouldn’t create posts full of medical terms in a formal style.

Pro tip: You can endorse your digital appearance with offline elements such as office decor, business cards, brochures, branded stationery, and even lollipops for young patients. The possibilities are endless.

Final thoughts

Your personal brand allows you to stand out from the crowd. Personal branding allows you to demonstrate your skills and strengths to current and potential clients. While building a brand takes a lot of time and effort, the benefits are huge if done effectively. A personal brand helps you cultivate an audience that trusts you and advocates for you along with a network of experts who recognize your value and consider you first when new opportunities arise.

The key to developing a successful brand and becoming truly influential is to consistently show up and sell your story so that people feel compelled to buy your services. Follow the five easy steps above to become a brand your patients will always come back to.

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