Medical Practice Branding and Website Imagery

April 17, 2012
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The Importance of Images in Internet Marketing 

A strong online brand offers a medical practice short-term and long-term value. If people are interested in making an appointment when they first visit a practice’s site, a strong brand will persuade them to take the next step. On the other hand, if people come to the site well in advance of needing medical assistance, they are apt to remember a strong brand when the time comes … but forget all about a vague one.   

The Importance of Images in Internet Marketing 

A strong online brand offers a medical practice short-term and long-term value. If people are interested in making an appointment when they first visit a practice’s site, a strong brand will persuade them to take the next step. On the other hand, if people come to the site well in advance of needing medical assistance, they are apt to remember a strong brand when the time comes … but forget all about a vague one.   

Many elements go into creating an online brand, but this post will focus on an extremely important one – website imagery. For Internet marketing, imagery is decisive, since most visitors decide whether to stay on a Web page or click off within a matter of seconds. An image that conveys an important message, one that the visitor can identify with immediately, can make the difference between a new patient and lost opportunity. 

Conveying the Right Mood 

When selecting imagery for a medical site, the first step is to decide what attributes of the practice are most important to convey, the factors that most play into a person’s decision to become or remain a patient: 

  • Comfortable waiting and examination rooms
  • Competence
  • Cutting edge technology
  • Friendly, welcoming staff
  • Innovative techniques
  • Pricing/affordability of services
  • Results (emphasis on before-and-after experiences)
  • Warmth; bedside manner 
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While it’s likely that more than one of these attributes may have importance to a particular practice, brand confusion results from mixing opposite types of imagery. Consider these two images: 

Physician with Child

Physician Reviewing an X-ray.

Both images convey certain emotions and ideas – but not ones that are particularly consistent.  A site visitor looking for a warm and caring experience will be attracted to the first image. A site visitor looking for competent treatment of a challenging condition will be attracted to the second. 

The branding challenge in all this is to convey characteristics of the practice that are important, and yet not appeal so broadly as to wind up trying to be “all things to all people” and saying nothing. 

Suggestions for Branding-Consistent Imagery 

Repeating themes is desirable. Resist the temptation to make every image an attempt to convey something new about the practice. Instead, determine the most important ideas to convey and weave them into imagery site-wide, to the greatest extent common sense allows. 

Imagery must be authentic. Whether stock photography or on-location images are used, photos should accurately represent how patients will experience the practice. If people find inconsistencies, a practice invites negative word-of-mouth conversation and online reviews, both of which can be extremely damaging and undo virtually any amount of marketing activity. 

Use captions.  Since site visitors are more likely to view images than read text, position key branding messages as image captions, where they stand a much better chance of being read and remembered.  

Position images where they have the greatest impact. The most effective and noticeable places to position images are in a Web page’s header or at the top right, where the eye is quickly and naturally drawn. Images scattered around other areas of a page may interfere with the flow of messaging or not be seen at all. 

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Use high quality custom photography. Displaying on-location photos of a practice is highly effective, but must be executed to perfection. Fairly or unfairly, amateurish images will undermine a visitor’s confidence in a practice. For this reason, it is wise to hire a professional photographer and make the best possible impression.