“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
– Simon Sinek, Start with Why
I recently met a therapist while networking. During the event we attended, the facilitator put us into small groups and led us through a mini brainstorming activity. We were asked to think for each other on a certain business focus we have right now. When I got to know her a bit more, I found out that besides being a therapist, she is also yoga certified and enjoys dance. The focus we used in brainstorming for her business was how to fill an upcoming retreat she is co-hosting with a coach.
I thought to myself, “what a perfect pair we are!” – since I’m a coach myself and enjoy yoga and dance too!
I immediately wanted to support her. Why? Because I saw things we had in common. In those few minutes of brainstorming, I got to know a bit of her story, her values and who she is. I started to understand her brand. And by getting to know her, I determined that I liked her (more on that later).
No matter what kind of business you own, be it a brick and mortar, online coaching business or a mental health practice, it will benefit you greatly to do a deeper dive into branding.
Going beyond the outward-facing visual elements of your brand will help you make clearer business decisions, stand out as unique and leverage opportunities for growth.
Along my path working in marketing for 15 years and as a solopreneur coach over the last five years I’ve witnessed much confusion between branding and marketing. I know it’s helped me in my business to work on my own branding. Whenever I get a chance to work “on” my business (versus “in” it) I find it helpful to identify key tips to get started. So, in this article I aim to clarify a bit about branding as well as provide 5 key tips to help you get started branding your mental health practice.
First, let’s clear up some confusion…
What’s the Difference Between a Brand and Branding?
Most people will hear the word “brand” and immediately think of the visual elements of a logo, a color scheme, fonts and maybe a tag line (ie. Just Do it!). But that’s not all there is to a brand.
Your brand is what makes you unique. It’s the story of why you do what you do. It’s the story of what your clients say about the experience of you. As author of The Brand Flip Marty Neumeier explains, “a brand is a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.”
So, if “brand” is what lives in the hearts and minds of the client, then the process of branding is what you as a business owner have control over. It’s where you discover and decide things like your brand identity, brand promise, unique differentiator and much more. Determining these elements can help you, your clients and the prospective clients of your mental health practice convey your message clearly.
Branding your mental health practice starts with generating ideas, identifying values, articulating your vision and finding your why. Your brand strategy will help you decide how you want to influence others about your mental health practice. Branding is how you express who you are as a business, what you are about and who exactly your services are for.
“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”
– Steve Forbes
What are the Benefits of Branding My Therapy Practice?
As a business owner, you know that all businesses need marketing. You have to “get the word out” about what you do. But in order to do that, you first must decide on which word(s) to use.
When you do it right, branding makes marketing easier. Branding ideally comes before marketing… although that’s not always common practice for small business owners.
When you go through a branding process, some of the tough questions are already answered. You might expect to answer questions like, what are three adjectives that describe you? What do you stand for? And, what can you do that the competition won’t do? Identifying these core concepts will make building a marketing plan easier.
Branding creates a specific impression of your therapy practice. Let’s face it, there are probably a lot of other choices for your potential clients. Even your current clients have a choice whether to stay with you or go elsewhere. The stronger bond you create through brand, the stronger pull there is to stick around.
Branding your mental health practice can benefit your business by:
- Improving recognition of your practice
- Increasing loyalty with and creating advocates of, your clients
- Differentiating your practice from others
One way to get started creating your brand is with storytelling. Many times, testimonials are used as stories to illustrate the problem and solution of how a business (or practice) impacted someone’s life. Stories are particularly effective because they cut through distraction. As Donald Miller writes in Building a Story Brand, “…the most powerful tool we can use to organize information so people don’t have to burn very many calories is story.”
Sharing stories about your experience, background, and interests can help you build the know/like/trust factor. Just like it did for me with the therapist I met networking. People won’t buy from you until they trust you. And they have to like you before they get to trust. My only warning about telling your story is to be sure you’re telling it with a structure (learn about why that is so important.)
“People buy on emotion and justify with logic.”
— Zig Ziglar
5 Keys to Branding Your Therapy Practice
I used to think people would choose me as their coach because I was qualified, awesome, fun and “different” than your average coach. It sounds rather naïve to me now but that’s what I thought. I had the mindset that my work would speak for itself. Um… wrong!
Many small business owners seem to view branding as an intangible luxury. I think I was in that camp for a bit too, so no worries if that’s where you are now.
But here’s what I know now, going through a branding process can help be transformational for your business. It’s time we start thinking differently about branding. When you go through a branding process, it can help you create a real business advantage.
Here are my 5 key tips to get you started in branding your mental health practice successfully:
1. Define Your Brand Promise
Your promise is about what you’ll deliver. Ideally, it’s based on an emotional connection. First and foremost, we are human and being human means that we have emotions. We look for opportunities to connect with brands and that connection comes from how a brand makes us feel. Think about your favorite brand and why you like it. Chances are it makes you feel good buying from them.
2. Determine Your Radical Differentiator
What’s your only-ness? Is there some way that you stand out as unique? In a crowded marketplace with many choices, it’s important that we know what makes us unique so we can articulate that for others. For instance, when I did my branding process, I found out I’m the only communication coach who is creating story-form animated explainer videos for clients. How are you different?
3. Find Your Sound and Personality
Words are powerful. Saying, “I listen” has a different sound than “I tune into your story.” It might be subtle but it’s powerful. It expresses a personality. Identify your tone of voice and how you want to sound in writing. You might come up with a list of phrases you use that convey who you are. Think of the language Starbucks invented that changed the way we ordered coffee forever (i.e. small is tall). What would that be for your practice?
4. Determine What Human Needs You Fulfill
Human beings have needs. You may think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but there’s also the Wheel of Human Needs which I often refer to when coaching my clients. Be intentional about how you contribute to your client’s lives. Know what needs you fulfill. For example, the need of “community” is also about being heard. We want to voice our views with people in our community. That is something I help my clients with, finding their story, scripting it and helping them practice it and/or creating it in a video. What human need do you fulfill?
5. Outline Your Brand Identity
This is where your visual elements come in. You may already have a brand name, logo, tag line, colors and fonts but going through a branding process may provide you an opportunity to upgrade your look with new-found meaning. And having all this information gathered into one document will help you work with other marketing professionals going forward. Being consistent with these outward-facing elements also builds your credibility. Creating your own set of brand guidelines will make it easier to work with creative professionals (i.e. graphic and web designers, social media managers, video creators, copywriters, etc.) which will help you delegate as you grow.
Final Thoughts on Branding Your Therapy Practice
In an ideal world we would go through a branding process before jumping into business, but typically it’s more like choose a name, get a logo, business cards and website and BOOM – you’re in business!
One indicator that you might be ready to go through a deeper dive into branding is if you start adding or changing your services. The good news is you can do branding work at any time you decide to.
No matter the stage you are in your mental health practice, working on branding can help you create what you really want. Whether that means expanding and growing your business or preparing for your next chapter beyond what you’re doing now.
If you’re curious about branding (or rebranding) your mental health practice to help you make clearer business decisions, stand out as unique and leverage opportunities for growth check out BrandANewYou.com today! If you’re a coach, I’d love to have you create a free listing over at findprocoaches.com