Dr. Mariel Petruk honed her personal brand and is now using it to create a practice whose visual identity blends into the neighborhood—while also standing out.


Dr. Mariel Petruk

THE TARPON RIVER neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, gets its name from—you guessed it—the river that cuts through this upscale enclave of hip bars, trendy restaurants, laid-back nightspots and outdoor recreation. Home to around just 3,000 of the city’s residents, it’s a place where people seem to value a certain understated quality, especially when it comes to local businesses.

So when Dr. Mariel Petruk decided to open her first practice in Tarpon River, she was determined to go to market with a brand that would be immediately welcomed by patients. “I wanted the office to feel like it really belonged in the neighborhood,” she says. “I thought that a beachy, down-to-earth, bright-and-light style would feel comfortable for patients as well as for the staff.”

Naming the practice was a no-brainer given the neighborhood. “Tarpon River Dental” did the trick, avoiding the trap of creating something too high-concept that might strike residents as aloof. However, Dr. Petruk understood this meant her visual brand identity would shoulder a higher burden. Also, because she’s the face of the brand, it would need to be uniquely reflective of her personal philosophy and style.

When my patients enter the office, I’d like them to see it as a clean and comfortable space where they’re at ease enough to trust us with their care and the care of their families.”

While working with Benco Dental’s CenterPoint Design team on her practice’s space planning and equipment, Dr. Petruk simultaneously participated in the company’s Build Your Brand program, which is designed to guide doctors through the process of refining and creating their visual identities, then carrying them through to their signage, interior, patient forms, social media, business cards and more.

Taylor Haight, a Benco Dental interior designer, assembled a mood board based on the doctor’s ideas. “As a native Floridian, Dr. Petruk was drawn to the bright and beautiful colors seen throughout the Key West area. We started by gathering images that Dr. Petruk was inspired by as a basis for the design,” Haight says. “The keywords that inspired her space were: Key West cottage, comfortable, inviting and open. She wanted a space that her patients would love to visit, and representative of the local surroundings. We picked the key color palette from a picture of seashells, and the design developed and blossomed from there.”

As the interiors were coming together, Benco Dental’s Build Your Brand team of graphic designers, digital artists and brand specialists began the process of developing a logo that brings all those ideas together, forming a unique visual identity that telegraphs the practice’s sense of purpose and hints at the unique experience patients can expect.

Good mood: (From left) Benco Dental interior designer Taylor Haight; the “mood board” that makes use of Dr. Petruk’s key terms to help determine her practice’s aesthetic.

“When my patients enter the office, I’d like them to see it as a clean and comfortable space where they’re at ease enough
to trust us with their care and the care of their families,” Dr. Petruk says. “I also want them to recognize that the investments we made in the newest technology are to make each of their treatments more comfortable and more successful.”

After an initial round of logo proposals, the Build Your Brand team worked closely with Dr. Petruk to get them ever closer to her vision while also ensuring they remained on-brand for the doctor and the Fort Lauderdale dentistry market. The result is a carefully curated assemblage of colors and textures that are both soothing and reassuring, anchored by a light but precise text treatment of the practice’s name in a typeface that’s evocative of the meticulous lettering on architectural renderings.

Dr. Petruk points to a sentiment from business influencer and former tech executive Seth Godin that helped shape her thinking about her practice’s image: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Or, as she puts it, “You have to find your secret sauce and make it known to others.”

Running through it: The Tarpon River and its namesake neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Looking back, Dr. Petruk says she enjoyed the entire process. “I loved collaborating with the Benco Dental team. This is my first dental office, but it isn’t their first office, and that experience shows.” She credits her Benco equipment specialist and representative—Brian McClure and Matt Goldberg, respectively—with helping keep the project moving forward at all times. “Everyone works well together and has the foresight to prevent construction and office-flow problems that I would never have noticed until they were pointed out to me.”

As of this writing, Dr. Petruk is still in the construction phase, but she can’t wait to throw open the doors to Tarpon River Dental. “I happen to be an extremely loyal patient to my own health-care providers. I love the relationships I’ve built with them over the years,” she says. “In building my own practice, I’m taking various aspects of those relationships and trying to integrate them into my business model to encourage patient loyalty and long-lasting relationships. I really want to be friends with all my patients. It makes the days much more enjoyable.”