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Brand identity from the dermatologist’s perspective


In part 2 of our series on brand identity, Melanie Palm, M.D., elicits the help of expert colleagues that have been successful in developing their own practice brand identities. Dr. Palm poses and responds to questions along with Dr. Tina Alster, Dr. Fredric Brandt, and Dr. Tom Rohrer.





In part 2 of our series on brand identity, I elicited the help of some colleagues that have been tremendously successful in developing their own practice brand identities. 

Here is the panel:

Tina Alster, M.D.

Tina Alster, M.D.-Founding Director, Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, Washington, D.C.




Fredric Brandt, M.D.Fredric Brandt, M.D.-Founding Director, Dr. Brandt Dermatology Associates, Manhattan, NY and Coral Cables, FL, creator of eponymous skin care line




Melanie Palm, M.D.Melanie Palm, M.D., MBA-Founding Director, Art of Skin MD, Solana Beach, CA





Tom Rohrer, M.D.Tom Rohrer, M.D.-Partner at Skin Care Physicians of Chestnut Hill, MA






The following questions were posed to this panel.  Here are the responses regarding to questions posed around the idea of brand identity:

1. How has your brand identity changed over time?  In other words, has your mission/vision been the same, or have these changed with time? 

Alster:  The brand identity for the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery has evolved since its inception  in 1990 to incorporate changes in the growing field of laser surgery. From the beginning, it drew upon the most advanced laser technology and medical expertise for delivery of care for patients with birthmarks and scars. That continues to this day. Over the years, the Institute has grown in size and scope to include not only additional laser technologies for a wide range of conditions, but also other medical techniques which are taught to other physicians around the globe.

Brandt:  We've tried to stay true to our mission of providing the highest grade products with in office benefits for home use.

Palm:  The brand identity of Art of Skin MD has remained the same since its inception in 2012.  The creation of my mission and vision of the practice were crucial in developing a detailed but clear brand identity.

Rohrer:  SkinCare Physicians was founded 14 years ago with a goal to create a state of the art dermatology practice that provided the highest quality dermatologic care possible.

  • The original mission statement of SkinCare Physicians of Chestnut Hill is “to deliver unparalleled personalized service along with ethical, skilled, and comprehensive dermatologic care.”

  • While this vision and mission have not changed over the years, we have found shorter mantras that are easier for all of us to remember and to act on a daily basis. These are:

  • Put the patient first

  • Figure out a way to say yes to patient requests

  • Don’t just meet expectations, exceed them

  • Do ordinary things, extraordinarily well

  • A commitment to excellence

Next: How did your logos evolve?


Read more of Dr. Palm's blog


2. What about your logo and practice branding?  How were these developed and how have they evolved?

Alster:  The practice name was established at the outset (1990) and the corresponding logo was designed in 1994. The logo has subsequently been incorporated in all written and electronic materials, including website and Facebook pages.

Brandt:  Our brand identity remains true to our core philosophy with is universal.

Palm:  The practice logo was developed in conjunction with an illustrator, but all other marketing and branding materials were created in house by myself, my Director of Business Development, and our creative marketing independent contractor – who made our vision of brand identity concrete with consistent design elements and messaging. 

Rohrer:  The practice logo has remained the same since the start of the practice.

3. How do you make decisions about brand identity given you are a multi-physician and multiple-location practice?

Alster:  Although the Institute was established by me, emphasis has always been placed on the Institute itself, rather than on any one individual. Consultation among the physicians is typical, however, at the end of the day, I accept responsibility for the decisions made.

Brandt:  Our logo has changed slightly over time and the practice branding has revolved to encompass our new associates.

Palm:  I am currently in solo practice, but I purposefully created a logo and brand image that is expandable with the addition of other providers.  It will be important that future providers “fit” the culture that has been carefully groomed at Art of Skin MD in order to thrive and be their most successful.

Rohrer:  One of the driving principles that have helped us succeed as a large group is that we build consensus and make decisions that are unanimous and good for all those in the practice. Our brand identity is that we deliver outstanding care in all aspects of dermatology, not just aesthetic or surgical dermatology. We pride ourselves on being able to offer state of the art care in medical-pediatric, adult, geriatric, procedural, aesthetic, and as well teach fellows and students, and carry out clinical research.

Next: How often should you re-evaluate your strategy?

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4. How often to you re-evaluate your brand/mission/values?

Alster:  Re-evaluation of brand mission is made on the occasion of each new physician hired in order to keep things contemporary.

Brandt:  We are constantly reviewing and evolving our brand mission on a monthly basis. 

Palm:  Our brand identity is echoed through the Guiding Principles that were developed by myself.  These guiding principles are read aloud monthly at a staff meeting.  The brand/mission/and values are being re-evaluated on a continual basis although the core of this practice is unlikely to change markedly.

Rohrer:  We have monthly board meetings for all eight of our partners where we discuss all matters of the practice, including our mission.  We make sure all of our decisions fit into our practice mission and culture.

5. Do you think brand identity is something that the average physician/dermatology practice pays much attention to?

Alster:  Because marketing and brand identity are not subjects taught in medical school or during post-graduate training, it is regrettable that most physicians do not allocate more time and resources to this important element in practice management.

Brandt:  I really don't know how other practices brand themselves.

Palm:  I think the importance of brand identity is under-valued in many practices.  Unfortunately, this aspect of business analysis is not something taught during medical courses.  I do believe, however, that most marketing-savvy practices have considered the idea of brand identity whole-heartedly.

Next: How do you transmit your brand identity to your patients and community


Read more of Dr. Palm's blog


6. How do you transmit the values of your brand identity to patients and the community?

Alster:  The practice's values are transmitted to patients through the exceptional delivery of care provided as well as by the educational resources available to patients and colleagues alike.

Brandt:  We use a combination of newsletters, social media and PR in magazines and newspapers and television S well as my radio show.

Palm:  Every morsel of marketing material, guiding principles, employee handbook, and website echoes my belief in brand identity.  This gives a very clear picture of our brand to those interacting with us in person or virtually.  Our guiding principles, mission, and vision guide the work culture that predicts how we respond to the community at large.

Rohrer:  We communicate and in effect market our brand identity to every patient that comes through our doors by offering them the highest quality service possible. By putting the needs of the patient first and making their experience with our practice the best it can be, we create our own marketing. We do not advertise in any of our local publications or media outlets. Most of our new patients are referred from our existing patients.

7. Do you utilize outside consultants for guidance with brand management?  Any notable success stories or challenges?

Alster:  I used an outside consultant for logo development, but otherwise all creative work has been performed in house under my direction. 

Brandt:  We don't utilize outside consultants but more in house teams.

Palm:  All brand management is completed in house by myself and my Director of Business Development.  As a result of our strong brand strategy, I lecture on practice management nationally.

Rohrer:   We do not have any outside consultants for marketing or brand management.We are very pleased that we were able to be helpful in scar treatment  with our Project Heal program for many of those injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.

Melanie D. Palm, M.D., is director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, Calif.


Read more of Dr. Palm's blog

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