As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. Building your veterinary brand is an investment in your vet practice and a representation of the way you do business. Louise Baxter reports
When you’re seeking professional services, such as a plumber or GP, how do you decide which business to go with? Say you’ve narrowed them down by location, specialty and any other personal requirements, and have two options left. One has a polished logo and website, while the other has a dated design using five fonts and pixelated photos. Which would you choose?
“Modern, professional branding is an extremely important investment,” says Vet Branding graphic designer Jessica Mabilia. “It’s the face of your business.
“There is so much competition these days, especially online, so you want to present yourself as best as you can. There are many outdated-looking vet clinics so this is a way to put your best foot forward. First impressions count. If yours isn’t up to standard, people might risk not going with your business simply based on a Google search.”
Nyree Lobsinger, owner of Veterinary Stationery Supplies, says consistency is key to creating a streamlined look for your business. Her company provides tailored branding and marketing products for vet practices, from name badges, letterheads and sympathy cards, to fridge magnets, drug labels and presentation folders.
“Branding is your visual mission statement,” she says. “With the congruent use of logo, colour and font, your printed stationery can be pulled together to reflect a trustworthy, organised and professional veterinary practice. Our clients typically want branding to be clean, precise and easy to reproduce in one colour (there’s not always a big budget for colour).
“Vets are medical professionals so their branding needs to project that.”
Getting your vision right
Nyree says the first port of call is to know your area and demographic so your design can be developed accordingly.
“A veterinary practice in a sleepy beach community is going to have a different set of clientele than, say, rural Queensland. Will you be providing services mainly for mums with family pets or farming communities?” she says.
“When you go to a graphic designer, take a brief of the look and feel of what your clientele would like and ask them to come up with a logo. They usually give three different choices. It’s really essential to get branding guidelines done—which is something we can do—of what your logo and brand needs to look like in different mediums such as a letterhead compared to your website.
“What’s it going to look like on a black background, in sign format, large or small font? If all of that is done well in the branding guidelines, the designers can’t go too far wrong.
“Keep it simple. Some of the most famous logos in the world are one colour. Make sure nothing is clashing with the interior of the practice. For example, if you have a bright green building exterior, it would be silly to do a navy blue logo to go on that.
“With the congruent use of logo, colour and font, your printed stationery can be pulled together to reflect a trustworthy, organised and professional veterinary practice.”—Nyree Lobsinger, owner, Veterinary Stationery Supplies
“Also, be careful of logo build-up—you don’t need it everywhere. We suggest less embroidery on uniforms, for example, because you’ll have letterheads, business cards, signage and it might become too much.
“Check images against any visual patents, too. Find out if you’re able to use it before spending money on design, printing and manufacture.”
Don’t be afraid to research
Dr Kristina Hulme, director and veterinarian at Northcote Animal Hospital, says she and her business team had a clear vision for their services and the type of image they wanted to portray in the casual but stylish inner-Melbourne suburb of Northcote.
The practice’s branding is clean and minimalist with soft tones of green and white. The logo includes a simple line drawing of a tree with a dog, a cat and a bird, and the hospital name is shortened to the acronym ‘nOah’—a play on Noah’s Ark.
“We had a few considerations when coming up with the look,” Dr Hulme says. “Number one was community: we wanted to slot in and appear in similar style to cafes and restaurants in the area, the same sort of aesthetic.
“For the practice we went for exposed brick walls, and wanted the feeling of the waiting room to be warm and inviting. People comment that it feels like sitting in someone’s lounge room. We put a lot of thought into the logo—we chose green because it’s a good, subtle colour for health and wellness, and also reflects that we try to be as eco-friendly and recyclable as possible. That’s how the tree came about in the design.
“We did some psychology research for the logo, too; for what would be eye-catching. That’s why we capitalised the ‘O’ in the acronym. We engaged an artist to draw the logo: Jane Reiseger who did the Royal Children’s Hospital design. We really liked her work.”
Beware of false economy
While it’s helpful to have a definitive vision for your branding, Jessica Mabilia advises enlisting reputable professionals for its execution. Saving money in the short term on cheaper services may end up being a false economy if they don’t align with your standards and industry-specific needs.
“If you’re going to pay the money, you will want to go to an experienced professional,” she says. “A service provider you’ve found online may not be the quality you’re looking for. At Vet Branding we specialise in the veterinary industry—we know who the target market is, how to market your business.
“I’d encourage practices to have a vision and mission statement and then base their logo around that. I’d start with a consultation and from there, go into logo development. Once we’ve got a logo finalised we’d carry that across to flyers, business cards, letterheads, presentation folders, etc.
“Keep it consistent, professional, friendly and welcoming. Two of the biggest things my clients ask for are professional and family-oriented.”