Branding - How You Craft The Message of Who You Are

I wanted to go a little deeper into the concept of branding as a therapist, based on some of the questions I got last week.

There is actually a lot of debate about what is branding and what is marketing. A brand is really a living relationship between your business and consumers. A brand could say that they are the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had, but you could think it’s garbage coffee. Consumers decides if the brand’s message is true or not. Chris Do, who is a genius at helping creative entrepreneurs, says, “Marketing is what you say you are, Branding is what they say you are.”

I love this idea, and yet I do look at branding a little differently than he does (he knows a kajillion more things than I do about this, so decide for yourself!). I think of branding as crafting the message of who you are, and marketing as selling the message of who you are. While acknowledging that your end product needs be true and quality, or the brand will die. Once you have clarity on your message, it makes creating a website, logo, business cards, etc. so much easier, because you know what you’re trying to convey. So how do you craft the message of who you are as a therapist?

This is a very big question, and we won’t solve this in one blog post. There are brilliant professionals like Fabian Geyrhalter whose sole focus is helping entrepreneurs and companies get clarity on this answer (Fabian also has a very cool podcast called Hitting The Mark that I love, if you want to geek out on how creative companies brand themselves).

Here are the questions I would recommend you start out asking yourself as you’re thinking about your brand.

1) What do I think therapy is? What do I believe creates change?

Every therapy model subscribes to some sort of theory of change. Are you a CBT die-hard, and believe in thought changes and repeating positive thinking patterns? Do you love EMDR and BrainSpotting and think we need a neurological element stimulated for change? Do you see the benefit of DBT and people coaching themselves with hands-on worksheets? Many people who read this blog likely favor the Experiential approach and helping people experience something different in the room.

2) What does it feel like to work with me?

Are you calm and deep? Brisk and intellectual? Funny and jokey? Are you good at cheerleading, or do you take a more objective approach? Are you caring, or more distant? Do you swear a lot? There are clients who need your style, whatever it is, and who need what you do specifically. There are such fun and cool ways to express your personality through website words and visual design, social media, and writing. It’s one of my favorite things about the power of websites.

3) What population do I love working with, and think I’m the best with?

Ooooooo, this is often a very hard question for therapists, because what we’re really getting to is niche-ing. Many therapists do not like the idea of niche-ing to only see one type of client. Let me bring this alive for you in an example:

Therapist Website Example 1

I work with anxiety, depression, LGBTQ individuals, trauma, ADHD, and I see children, teens, adults, couples and families. I am trained in EFT, EMDR, DBT, and currently training in Trauma-Focused CBT.

Therapist Website Example 2

My mission is to help teens with ADHD feel confident navigating the world and embracing what makes them unique. Our culture is not set up to always celebrate the ADHD mind, and teens often take a big self-esteem hit when they don’t fit easily in the box. We will develop strategies for when they need to be in the box, and also find times when not fitting in the box is a huge advantage!

So, if you were a teen or parents of a teen with ADHD, which therapist would you choose?

Many therapists appreciate some variety of clients, and we can fear we will only see one type of client if we niche. We also know that one client can easily present with anxiety, depression, ADHD, relationship issues, and so on. However, every practice builder I’ve ever heard says that even though they have a specialized niche, it’s still only 60% of their caseload, because there’s always word of mouth referrals and “can you see my friend” referrals, etc.

If you’re struggling with the idea of niche-ing, or anything else in this post, comment below and let the community help you out! Do you know any therapists who you feel are crushing the branding game? Share their websites below!