Take it from someone who devotes 100 percent of her job to dental brand design: Developing your logo can be an invigorating voyage of self-discovery—if you have the right guide.

TODAY’S GIG ECONOMY has spawned numerous options for business owners who want logos designed fast and cheap. But your brand is so much more than just a logo, says Allison Simenkiewicz (above), whose full-time job is carefully crafting brand identities for dental practice owners nationwide. A critical part of that work involves guiding her clients through a process that ensures their visual identities aren’t merely representative of their own philosophy but also an honest promise about the patient experience. “Branding is very personal, so it’s a lot of emotional stuff. If it just feels right, it probably is right,” she says.

Unlike online logo factories that churn out cookie-cutter designs by the bucketful, Simenkiewicz says there’s no substitute for personal, in-depth conversation and discovery. “It’s a search for inspiration, really. Sometimes it starts with the doctors, who bring examples of brands they like to the initial meeting. Other times, clients look to me to help jump-start their thinking with me asking questions.”

Because Simenkiewicz is part of Benco Dental’s interior design team, her work is sometimes an organic outgrowth of bringing a doctor’s complete practice vision to life. “As part of the interior design process, our designers assemble mood boards—idea collages—based on each client’s individuality and vibe.” The mood boards (see one example below, put together for a pediatric practice in Fort Smith, Arkansas) aren’t just helpful as inspiration for logo creation but also as a means for selecting visual brand elements to integrate throughout the entire facility.

In the mood: A mood board, like this one for Fort Smith Pediatric Dental Group in Arkansas, helped the client choose a logo design.

However, Simenkiewicz stresses that there’s no right or wrong path, nor any particular ideal circumstance for creating (or updating) your practice logo. Far more important is that the final product works for you, not against you. “I’ve seen overly sleek logos come off as cold and off-putting, but at the same time, it’s a delicate balance to look friendly and inviting as a health care professional,” she says.

Likewise, there are a variety of practical considerations that need to be addressed early. “You don’t want to order building signage or lab coats and find out that the logo is unusable for technical reasons,” Simenkiewicz says. “Then you end up altering it to suit the medium, which dilutes your brand consistency. Your logo should work equally well on a social media post or website as it does on a wall in your office.”

With the right designer, expressing your brand visually can be fun and fulfilling and, ultimately, rewarding. The finished product can serve as both a marketing tool and a point of personal pride. “Everyone gets excited about branding because it’s your voice out in the world,” Simenkiewicz says. “I’m lucky that I get to help doctors channel that and show it off.” Email design@benco.com with questions and comments, or to get a conversation started.