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Branding Lessons From an Unlikely Source


by Michael DiFrisco

Remember this: Branding is about discovering your specific idea; the one thing that you or your dental practice stands for. As a business owner, your duty is to own a relevant, authentic, and differentiated idea to live in the minds of your patients and prospects.

With that thought firmly planted, let’s turn to the Food Network. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for the program Th Next Food Network Star, a reality-type program that takes a dozen or so aspiring chefs/TV personalities and, over multiple weeks, puts them through an elimination-style challenge. So what does this cooking show have to do with branding your dental practice? Everything. Because each contestant is challenged to develop a POV, or Point of View, that represents what will make him or her…wait for it…relevant, authentic, and differentiated. Just like a business, a product, or a dental practice.

One of the judges, Susie Fogelson, Food Network and Cooking Channel Senior Vice President of Marketing, Creative & Brand Strategy, would constantly remind the deer-in-headlights contestants to define, refine, and evolve their POV. Many of this past season’s contestants slipped—and ultimately suffered elimination—not because of kitchen-related mishaps, but because they forgot their POV and wandered “off brand”.

“Why would someone stop and watch your show?” Fogelson would challenge. Viewers need a reason to cease surfing and pay attention. And admit it: that’s exactly what you want your patients and prospects to do; to stop and consider YOU and YOUR dental practice or services because they’re relevant, authentic, and differentiated.

The ultimate winner of this year’s Food Network Star wasa young chef from Chicago named Jeff Mauro. Mauro had his POV nailed from the very first show: he referred to himself as the Sandwich King. At first the moniker— and point of view—seemed questionable. Could Mauro really leverage the simple sandwich and elevate the humble POV to his own show on Food Network? The answer was a resounding yes. By consistently presenting his POV to the judges week after week, he cut through the clutter. Everything he did—from his on-screen tests to the creative food he prepared—was aligned to his POV in a way that made him stand out from his competitors.

In the book, Why Johnny Can’t Brand, authors Bill Schley and Carl Nichols, Jr. wrote, “The positioning paradox is that the power of your message is directly proportional to how simple you can make it and how few words and images you can use to say it.” To that point, there’s a new show on the Food Network on Sunday mornings. It’s called, Sandwich King.

So, what’s your practices’ POV? And why should patients and prospects patronize you instead of the practice down the street?