Branding – a term that can mean so many different things to so many people – and also one that can be confusing to therapists entering private practice. Since the mental health industry has just started to get its footing online, branding is a new concept to many. You may be wondering if an online presence with a great brand is even needed as a therapist.
But as you’ll soon see, branding is not just something reserved for large corporations, it’s now a NECESSITY, especially for therapists. In this post, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of building a unique brand as a therapist and what it could do for your practice.
A Brand Is More Than A Logo
When I ask private practice owners about their brand, the most common thing they think about is their colors, therapist logo, or fonts. It’s so easy to think (and dream!) about what your brand should look like above all else. The first thing we want to do is pick out brand colors and get an amazing design!
While getting a logo and other visual aspects of your therapist brand are essential steps, it’s not where you should start. How you begin to brand your therapy practice begins on a much more foundational level.
So What Is Branding?
Okay, so what exactly is therapist branding if it’s not just a logo? Authentic branding is all about perception – building a feeling in the minds of your dream clients. It’s something that exists in the thoughts of those we serve. When we talk about branding, it’s really thinking about how we can create those feelings in a genuine way.
Here’s an example. Think about Starbucks for a second. What images, thoughts, and feelings pop into your mind just by hearing the brand name?
Perhaps it’s elegance, luxury, sophistication, or high-quality coffee. Or maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and think of overpriced coffee and wannabe hipsters (no judgment). Either way, it likely evoked a strong feeling for you, which will influence whether you purchase their coffee or not. That’s the power of branding.
Now think about Dunkin Donuts, and then your local coffee shop down the street. Your perceptions of all three are probably all different from each other. Branding does exactly that – it allows you to stand out in a crowded market so your ideal client trusts and connects with you.
Therapist Branding: Is it Even Necessary To Build A Brand For Therapy?
At this point, you may be thinking that branding is something reserved for these large corporate entities with a lot of money to toss around. But let me tell you something: every person or business that offers a product or service has a brand, whether you know it or not. So, the question becomes: do you want to have a hand in creating yours?
As a mental health professional, the brand you build online not only helps your clients find the right support but also helps set you apart from the therapist offering similar services down the road.
Branding Therapy Helps You Build Connections
Therapy is built on connections. If a client doesn’t feel connected or aligned with a therapist during treatment, the treatment itself is less likely to make an impact. When you have a strong brand identity for your practice, you’ll be attracting the clients you align with the most.
These connections will start to form in the minds of prospective clients before they even book a consultation. This means they can feel more confident in your ability to help them.
Branding Helps You Show Clients Who YOU Are.
Long gone are the days of word of mouth reigning king for therapists. Clients want to know who YOU ARE first. They want to know your values, your personality, what’s important to you. They don’t want just any old therapist – they want the one that they’ll align with the best. You can show that online through your build.
Remember These Three words: Know, Like, Trust
Therapy is vulnerable- it requires clients to share quite a huge chunk of themselves to heal. But it simply won’t be possible for that to happen unless someone knows, likes, and trusts you. Those three keywords are fundamental when it comes to branding therapy. Your potential clients are on a journey with your brand.
The more they see and hear who you are and what you do, the more they’ll know, like, and trust you. And only once you’ve overcome this hurdle will others reach out for your support.
How To Create A Therapist Brand
Think About Who You Are and Want To Show Up As
It’s one thing to know who you are, but it’s completely different to communicate that effectively to your target audience. Remember, a brand exists in the minds of others – so it doesn’t matter what you think you’re conveying, it matters what your audience thinks.
This sometimes requires quite a bit of soul searching. What words do you want to identify with your brand? Do you want to be seen as funny? kind? empathetic? compassionate? witty? What resonates the most with who you are as a person and how you show up for your clients?
Tip: if you’re having trouble thinking of this, look to those who know you the best. They’ll easily be able to come up with 5 great words that come to their mind when they think of you.
Once you have a list of words, consider how those can come across in your messaging that’s authentic to you. When I’m posting on social channels, I try to keep my language as close to my normal speak as possible. As a therapist, this can give clients an idea of what to expect once they seek you out for treatment.
Identify Your Dream Therapy Clients
Building a brand identity is all about connecting who you are to who you want to attract. Identifying who your dream therapy clients help you develop a message that resonates with them the most. And no, everyone doesn’t count!
When you can speak directly to one distinct group of people, branding becomes a lot easier. You don’t necessarily need to go super-specific here, but really aim to visualize just who your dream client is.
What are their struggles, challenges, and pain points?
What do they value the most in a therapist?
What type of content do they engage with online?
Put a name to them…draw a picture if you have to! This really helps you develop a clear, simple message that resonates and inspires.
Create Clear, Concise Messaging
A confused prospect never takes action. And that’s exactly what happens when our message is complicated, jargon-filled, and unclear. Your message must have the same three things across all channels: who you help, how you help them, and why you do it.
It’s so easy to get caught in the weeds here. When I started building MindThrive’s brand, I would spew off a different benefit or value proposition for every person I met, which was super ineffective! There was never a clear purpose in the minds of my audience. But the consistency I’ve now begun to develop is key to building a strong, effective brand.
Here’s an example of the framework we use for our value proposition:
“We help mental health professionals and coaches [enter audience here] to inspire, connect, and grow [the unique value] online **by offering website design and SEO services [what you actually do”
Clear, concise, and it works. When you’re thinking of the messaging for your therapist brand, it should link the needs of your target audience and yourself. You have a unique value that your dream clients are just waiting to hear! Just remember, keep it simple and clear.
Okay, NOW You Can Tackle Your Therapist Logo and Website
Now that you understand your message and how you want your target audience to feel, you can think about how to visually create that. Whether you get a logo for your private practice professionally done or create it yourself, its goal should be to create the feelings you’d like associated with your brand
Colors, typography, and graphic elements all play a huge part, which is why I usually recommend seeking a professional to build the visual representation.
The next step would be creating your therapist website. Remember, YOU are a huge part of your website, so there should be a unique element to it. Not only should it be consistent with the elements found in your logo, but it should be visually reflective of who you are as a person and therapist. Having the same typography and colors helps build that sound brand identity as well.
Show Up For Your Private Practice Online
For many mental health professionals, the thought of sharing about themselves seems unnecessary and even a bit scary. But here’s the honest truth: allowing clients a glimpse into your world is a necessary part of branding. It allows clients to trust you and feel a bond
It’s not enough to have all of these ducks in order for when clients just so happen to find you – you also should be putting it out there consistently! A brand that stays on the top of someone’s mind is the one that a client contacts when they need support.
Don’t be afraid to infuse your personality here (it’s actually encouraged!). Potential clients want to get to know who you are and what you stand for. Sharing a piece of that with them only helps build connections and your brand.
Share some photos of you that are recent and engaging. Share parts of your life that you’re ethically allowed to and you feel comfortable sharing. Not everything you post has to be a mental health tip – clients getting o know you as a person can be a powerful branding tool as well.
Remember: Brands Aren’t Built In A Day
Branding your therapy practice is a journey, not a sprint. It takes time for your dream clients to connect with you. The most important thing is staying consistent across all areas of your marketing. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun with it!
If you’d like more resources with branding, Dr. Therese Mascardo is my go-to branding expert – feel free to check out some of her amazing courses!
MindThrive also can help create those unique visual representations of your brand through our website design. Contact us if you’d like to get started.