I’m slowly putting together a new clinic. I consider it my second most important endeavour of the year. And apart from trying to contrive a way to call the new clinic DsOsteopathy (all suggestions for how I can do this greatly welcomed), my idle thoughts naturally turn to branding.
I confess, branding isn’t my approach. Or at least I don’t think of it as branding, but I suspect my old colleagues in the blood-sucking ad industry would. It’s about how I want to present myself, the impression I want people to have of me even before they’ve met me, spoken to me or been to the clinic. Which is exactly what branding is about. An image for your service.
In osteopathy you have, broadly speaking, two types of clinic: the traditional, reliable been here forever image invoked by an old (but well presented) building, oak panels, rich colours, thick frames on the pictures, wooden desk… Or the high tech glass and chrome of the forward looking uber-modern, young. White, bright, sterile.
What you can’t do is behave in a way that clashes with your presentation. People may not be able to put their finger on it, but if there’s a clash, patients will find it hard to trust. It’s the saying-one-thing-but-doing-another dichotomy.
This presentation begins when a patient first sees your name, your ad, your card. It carries a logo. It’s like a Twitter avi. Which led me to think, what do these things say about us on NaughtyTwitter?
In the world of branding certain things are taken as given: colour and content convey a certain message. For once in the ad world, those colours and contents follow what we already think about them rather than trying to form our opinion. A logo doesn’t have time to form your opinion about *it*, it has to tap into our existing ideas to form an opinion about the thing it represents.
And so it is with avis.
The most interesting thing about the NaughtyTwitter avi is it hasn’t been put there by a professional. You chose it yourself. You might have given a little thought to how you wanted to present yourself, or you might have thought “Hey, I like that picture, I’ll use it.” Either way it invokes in you something that you identify with, so it’s a surprisingly good indicator of how you see yourself. (Cock avis take note: you’re telling us you’re a cock!)
But what do these covers tell us about the book? I’m far too chivalrous to use the avis of girls as examples, so all the below are the menfolk.
Very few of us have words or letters in our avis. By and large we see ourselves with an image. Rarely is it our face, the anonymity of the forum being paramount. Me, for professional reasons, many for personal ones. It’s often a suit, something that’s almost a corporate image for us. Some include a flash of individuality in that suit: a pocket square, a tie… Invoking an overall image, but putting a bit of yourself in it.
I rarely wear a suit, my work outfit is a clinic coat. Great, nice and individual, but likely to attract those with a medical malpractice fetish. Which is no bad thing, but I wouldn’t want to put off everyone else! I got lucky. My first #sinfulsunday went down very well, conveyed well how I see myself, so that became my avi. My previous one was a gold tie in an Eldridge knot. I chose it to show that corporate image, but with an unusual and difficult knot, just to place myself apart from the crowd. Again, rather how I see myself.
This is the main one I think, and most interesting particularly as Twitter seems to want to make the avis in the timeline smaller and smaller. But colour is a minefield. You want to stand out, but you don’t want to be cheap.
If you look at corporate logos, you’ll see a clear trend for what colours convey. Of course, these corporate logos are very self consciously designed so they are about how they want us to see them. Ours are less contrived, they’re about how we see ourselves…
Red, for instance can be exciting, but might also be quite aggressive. Think Virgin, RedBull. Exciting is good, but aggressive? Hardly the way a Dom would wish to present himself. Not surprising then that red rarely features large.
Orange denotes cheap, no frills, focus on the most basic. Think B&Q. Sure you’ll stand out but who wants to be seen as the PoundShop option? The unsophisticated, the same basic formula applied to everyone, the don’t-care-about-the-customer-just-the-bottom line option? Think EasyJet, seemed like a good idea when you booked, but no one ever got off an EasyJet flight without wishing they’d flown with a better airline instead!
Blue tends to be seen as unexciting but dependable and authoritative. Thinks Boots The Chemist, IBM. For many that’s absolutely how they see themselves, and blue comes up far more often than the cheap or fiery colours.
But if red, orange or blue is how you see yourself, that’s what you’ll have chosen.
Green comes up rarely, which is more of a surprise. It generates a feeling of health and wellbeing, which is what we all seek in our relationships. But perhaps not the feeling we all have about those early months.
Silvers, Greys, Blacks. By a large margin these monochrome colours dominate (pun absolutely intended). I don’t credit that dreadful author with the awareness for choosing “Grey” as her character name deliberately, but it was a good choice. These colours reinforce power, trust, and respect.
But if we’re all going to go monochrome, we’re back to content. A clear distinction of shape to catch the eye as the ladies of twitter scroll through the timeline, hoping to catch sight of *us*.
Strong, powerful hand grasping a black rope to enhance your pleasure, anyone? Not really suitable for a clinic, though.