Naming Your Dental Practice, What You Need To Know
by Tyson Downs
This post was originally published May 31, 2016 and updated March 6, 2020.
Do you need to come up with a name for your dental practice? There might be more than one reason that you’d need to do it. For example, you might buying an existing dental practice and need a new identity to make the practice your own. Or, you might be opening your own practice and wondering what to call it.
Or perhaps you brought on a new business partner or associate, and the original name doesn’t exactly fit anymore. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to come up with the right name. Rebranding your practice requires some thought and attention to detail.
What’s in a Dental Practice Name?
Does the name of your practice matter? The short answer is yes. The right name can make the job of marketing your practice easy. It can attract new patients and make you stand out from other practices in your area.
Here are some of the key points to keep in mind when conceptualizing a new name for your dental practice:
- First, you want your patients to remember the name of your office. That means that you probably want the name to be short to make it memorable.
- Second, the name should inspire positive and relevant associations with the name you choose. We all know that we might get a cavity, but nobody wants to think about cavities when they choose a dentist.
- You want people to think “dentist” when the business name pops up – without hesitation. They shouldn’t have to wonder what your practice is or what you do.
- It’s also a good idea to think about the implications of your name from an online marketing strategy point of view.
- Finally, you may want to consider including your city name and the words dental, dentistry, or dentist in your name. Including words that help people identify and find you is good practice for dental local SEO and online marketing.
When choosing a dental clinic name, you have several options. It’s important to take your goals, vision, and circumstances into consideration, since each of these may warrant a different approach. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach to naming a dental practice, but in this article, we’ll focus on “one size fits many.”
Names are important, but be careful not to get too bogged down in the process. Think through the decision, of course -- but don’t suffer paralysis by analysis. In the end, it probably isn’t the end of the world if you are:
Las Vegas Smile Artists
Las Vegas Family & Implant Dentistry
See what I’m saying?
Now, here are some things to keep in mind as you choose a name.
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1. Consider the Legalities of a Potential Dental Office Name
Your first consideration (and arguably your last) must be the legality of your name. If you already have a name in mind, you’ll need to check to make sure your name isn’t taken. There are several places to check:
- If you’re going to be doing business as a corporation or limited liability company, you’ll want to check the business database in the state where you’re incorporated. You can usually find that information on the Secretary of State’s website. (You can find a complete list of all SoS websites here.)
- If you’re incorporated but plan to do business under a fictitious business name, or you’re in business as a sole proprietor, you’ll need to check the Doing Business As (DBA) listings you’re your county. You can look online at your county recorder’s office – most have searchable databases.
- You will also want to check the United States Patent And Trademark Office website - they have a searchable database of business names.
Also, very important:
Do a Google search on the name!
This step is critical.
Not doing your research ahead of time could cost you countless hours of legal issues, thousands of dollars, and the potential of rebranding your business shortly after inadvertently choosing an inappropriate or trademarked name.
2. What’s Your Personal Brand?
Using your actual name as part of your practice’s name is considered “personal branding” in the marketing world. Many dentists do this - just use their full name followed by DMD or DDS. This approach is simple as you’re unlikely to encounter another dentist in your area with the same name as you.
While most people will recognize you’re a dentist when attaching the DDS to your name, using the DMD is sometimes confusing to potential patients who may mistake your degree in dentistry for that of a physician.
There’s also the question of whether using your name help you create a memorable brand. If you come from a long line of dentists who practiced in the same area, then you can probably benefit by using the family name for your practice.
However, if your name isn’t well known then the branding benefits of using it are limited. You might be better served by choosing a catchy name that people are likely to remember. Which name makes for a better brand:
Bright Smile Dentistry
Dr. Millie R. Crock, DDS
Nothing against Millie, but the first name is far more memorable than the second. Keep that in mind as you ponder whether to use your name.
It’s also worth noting that if you plan to one day sell the business or add a partner you may be better served with a different approach. Remember to begin with the end in mind. Considering your future plans for your practice can save you trouble down the line.
3. Your Practice Name Says What You Do
The next approach to consider is incorporating the name of your specialty into the name of your practice. This is a good way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Look at the picture below. It might not be the most exciting name out there, but it highlights a specialty that’s a real selling point for some patients.
This type of name could be a wise choice if you are a specialist or offer specialty services, such as cosmetic dentistry, emergency services, endodontics, pediatric services, or TMJ/TMD. It can also be combined with some of the other examples listed in this article. In the example above, the name combines a specialty (sedation dentistry) with a specific location (San Diego.)
The primary advantage of including specialties in your name is that it eliminates guesswork. If a patient who’s interested in pediatric dentistry looks up dentists in their area and sees two choices, only one of which uses the words “pediatric dentistry” in the name, which one do you think they’re more likely to choose?
4. Your Practice Name Says Where You Are
Earlier, I told you that there’s some benefit to including the name of your city in the name of your practice. Let’s talk a bit more about that.
First, most searches on Google today are local by default. Even if someone searches for a dentist without including a local keyword like a city, they’re still going to get local results because Google’s algorithms know where they’re located.
That means that using dental and locational keywords in your business name is smart. It can help put your practice at the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP.)
Also, Google has recently made it so that only three businesses appear in the coveted 3-pack that appears at the top of the SERP, and the practices that show up there get the lion’s share of clicks. Using local keywords makes it more likely that you’ll earn one of those spots.
However, search engines aren’t the only reason to use locational words in the name of your practice. For example, if there is a local landmark or park nearby you may be able to incorporate that name into yours. Consider taking advantage of community goodwill when you choose a name for your dental practice.
This can be a great branding approach provided that you don’t have immediate plans to open additional offices or to move. Let’s look at an example.
This is what Riverwoods Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery did. The practice is in Provo, UT near an area known as The Riverwoods.
You can see that they used the Riverwoods name, and they even incorporated visual representations of the name into their logo, which includes a tree and a river.
5. Name Your Practice with Your Patients in Mind
Anyone with marketing experience can tell you that when it comes to building a successful brand, your audience is a big part of the equation.
Why? Because not every dental practice is suitable for every prospective patient. Think about it. A practice that caters to children isn’t likely to be a good match for a wealthy single man. A practice that specializes in high-priced concierge dentistry won’t appeal to a middle-class family.
For that reason, it might be a good idea to choose a name that’s likely to speak directly to the people in your target audience. Here are some examples.
This dental practice, located in Salt Lake City, caters to wealthy clients. In addition to offering high-tech dental services, they offer spa services such as manicures, pedicures, and facials. Their goal is to pamper their patients and by including the word “spa” in their name, they’ve made that clear.
By contrast, check out this name (and logo) from a dental practice that specializes in treating kids:
Notice that the name, the colors, and the logo all work together to make it clear that this practice knows how to put kids at ease when they come to see the dentist. The takeaway here is that including your audience can help you create a compelling brand – and a compelling name.
6. Focus on Your Patients’ Feelings
Another marketing approach that’s useful is to focus on the benefits of what you do – specifically, how will patients feel if they choose you as their dentist?
One of the most popular options is to use the word “smile” in the name of your dental practice. It works because people make an association between their smiles and the condition of their teeth – but they also associate a smile with being happy. Look at this example from a Boston-area dentist:
The message this name sends is that not only will you have a great smile if you choose this dentist, it will be so beautiful that others will admire it. That’s an attractive thought for many patients.
Some other examples along these lines include:
Happy Family Dentistry
The Painless Dentist
You can see how these names play to prospective patients’ emotions and influence the way they think about a dental practice before they ever walk into the office.
7. Use Wordplay to Catch Patients’ Attention
One trendy approach is to come up with a name that’s practically an advertising jingle by itself. This approach can be effective if you can find something original and catchy. Remember, your patients want to identify with your brand. When they receive a compliment on the whiteness of their teeth, you want them to share refer their friends to you.
Some examples of wordplay include rhyming. Consider the poetry of this name:
You might also play with double meanings. For example, one memorable name for a dental practice might be:
The Whole Tooth
It plays on the oath people take in court, but it replaces “truth” with “tooth” for a unique and memorable name.
You get the idea, I hope. Having a little fun with the name of your dental practice can help you stand out in a crowd. You don’t have to settle for an ordinary name when you can come up with something that’s truly special.
Another argument in favor of this type of creative naming is that your name can grow with your practice. You might be starting out with just one dentist in one office, but with a creative name, you can easily add additional dentists, more staff, and even open more offices down the line – all without having to change your practice’s name.
8. Additional Considerations for Creating the Best Dental Practice Name
The options above cover the general naming ideas for dental practices.
What else should you consider when naming your dental office?
- Is the name meaningful? Does your new business name convey the image or brand that you want to? You want it to be clear and concise so that people who search for a dentist online will quickly be able to identify with you.
- Is it warm and positive? Does the name you’re considering have a positive connotation or is it cold and clinical sounding? So many of my friends and family are positive intimidated by going to a new dentist, and rightly so. Having a dentist stand with a drill in your mouth while you have the irrigation drain hanging out the other side can be frightful. The first impression you make on prospective patients is primarily based on the name of your practice and a referral if you’ve been recommended to them. The right name goes a long way to making them feel as comfortable as possible to trusting you with their (or their children’s teeth) before they even enter your office.
- Is the domain name available? If you plan on creating a website, which you should, conduct a domain name search to see if that domain is already registered. This can be a difficult step, particularly if you choose the “smiles sell” approach. You want to make sure that you choose a name that allows you to claim the best possible domain for your website. This is a crucial step as you want to have a single identity, from online to the street sign.
- Think about your logo. Your business brand is more than just the name. You will want to create a logo that blends well. Consider the logos of some top corporate brands – we know them intimately just from the logo. A memorable name will lend itself to a memorable logo – and that’s important if you want to create a memorable brand.
- Do you need a tagline? A tagline may be necessary if your business name doesn’t convey what you do. For example, if you have a general name such as Smith Dental, then perhaps a tagline can add some detail to what you do. Also, you may consider using the tagline to highlight any state-of-the-art technology that you employ. For example Smith Dental: Friendly Family Dentistry is clearer than the basic practice name.
- Is it easy to pronounce and remember? What brands do you think of first when you think about quality branding? The chances are that you think of short names, things like Target. In tooth-care, think about a name like Aquafresh. The name is short, it’s evocative, and it’s easy to say and remember. You have to think about what impression your business name leaves when people first see it? Remember, your name should be warm and inviting, not cold and clinical.
- Does it produce an image of what you do? People should be able to figure out what you do from your business name. Don’t leave any guesswork here. Be as clear as you can.
- Do you have a philosophy or mission statement? If so, think about naming your business in the context of these. If you don’t have a mission statement, I would recommend that you consider coming up with one and then using it as inspiration for your dental practice name. It will help people identify with you. I would also encourage you to put your mission statement somewhere visible in the waiting room.
- Do you want to attract families? Are you good with children? If so, you may consider adding “Family” in your business name. Remember, families grow. This one strategy can help you add patients. Adults who get married and have kids will be happy to know that you can provide dental care for both them and their offspring.
- Demographic research may help you identify needs in your community. Do you know your target market and competition? Consider doing some homework on this one. Look at a Google map of the other dentists in your area. Are there a lot of other practices in the same general area doing the same thing you do? This point could help you stand out in the crowd by adjusting your brand. You don’t have to change what you do, but you do need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the other choices in the area.
- It is best to keep it short and memorable. Try to capture as much meaning with as few words as possible. If the name is more than 3 or 4 words, you may consider abbreviating it. You can always use a tagline to further elaborate on your specialties. Remember, people have short attention spans these days. You want them to be able to remember your name easily.
- Think about sign options. Yes, you will be putting up signs, so you need something that looks good on the street corner. The logo you choose is going on there too. It also needs to go on your business cards, dental practice brochures, and website. It’s important to think about how the name you choose will look. How will you create a clear and concise image centered on your business name?
What’s in a name? Plenty when it comes to naming your dental practice. If you choose the wrong name, you may struggle to attract patients and grow your practice. If you choose the right one, patients will want to make you their dentist even if they don’t know anything about you.
A name is a powerful thing. Careful, thoughtful planning before choosing a name for your dental practice will allow you to gain name recognition within your community. It also forms the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
Do you have suggestions about creating effective dental practice names? Tell us in the comments!
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.