What is a brand?
Brand is not just a logo or advertising even though most people think it is. It is meaning behind what you do or want to do. What do people think about you? What do they say? What do they feel? What do they say about you as a counselor? Do you get a lot of repeat business by word of mouth? Are people recommending you to others? Do they understand what you do? Do many people in the community know what you do? Try to answer these questions as honest as you can because it will help you decide what to do next.
What is the purpose of your brand?
You know that a brand is simply put a sum of all things that create a meaning but what is the purpose of your brand? Why is it important to your business or your life? Is your purpose driven by ambition, talent, money etc.? Are you passionate about what you do? Does it seem like work to you? Is the brand the extension of your personality and who you are? The best brands are those that express emotion and are an extension of our lives. They are not some made up things without any connection to who you are. People know your story and your brand reflects it. Imagine that you are a single mom who loses her son to drugs and decides to become an addiction counselor to help educate other moms about dangers of drugs. This is your story and your brand is a reflection of your story. Your brand is the sum of meanings that are behind what you do. It shows feelings and engages the public to know more, be loyal and spread the news. Think about your story. What are you passionate about?
Strategies of brand development
How do you actually go from knowing your passion and purpose to designing your brand?
You begin with specific strategies that will be different for each person developing the brand.
Let’s say you are already in private practice and you do not have a real specialty, but you want to build your brand around the treatment of anxiety.
This subject is close to your heart because many of your friends suffer from anxiety and you have been observing their struggles for many years. You do see clients with anxiety in your private practice, but you are not satisfied with your results. You do not believe in medications, but you embrace holistic approach utilizing meditation and yoga. You sometimes do meditation with your clients, and they give you great feedback.
You decide to create your brand around natural approaches to the treatment of anxiety.
You take a meditation course and become certified in different techniques specifically for clients with mental health issues. You can still charge insurance, and you can also do fee for service when utilizing meditation or yoga. A local yoga studio is interested in doing a yoga class once a week for your clients for $10 a class per person, and they want to negotiate a referral program with you.
You still have a lot to do with developing your brand, but you are on the right track.
Remember you do not have to do everything yourself. Use the talents you have and network with others to help you.
Day 4 Know your competition!
How do you design your brand in order to outsmart your competition? You think that you are just one of many private practitioners and what you have to offer is not much different from what your competition offers. Remember you don’t have to reinvent the wheel but present your brand in a more distinctive and emotionally engaging way. You also need to use your imagination. Don’t be boring and predictable. Be original and be different. Make your brand stand out! Ask yourself these questions: In what ways can I present my brand experience that’s better than my competition? Are they all about the price, flexible schedule, accurate responding, nicer location, expertise? What do you stand for? When I opened my substance abuse program 17 years ago I was told I would never be able to succeed because of competition who was experienced and knowledgeable about the system. I knew that I was presenting something better to my clients that is of great value. I was giving them the individual attention that they craved for and nobody else was delivering.
Day 5 Know your audience!
Your brand is not for everyone and it cannot appeal to the masses simply because it is unique and has to attract specific clients. It has to be large enough so you have no problems finding clients but also it has to be defined clearly so you know exactly who to attract to your brand. Let’s say you want to specialize in providing workshops to parents of highly functioning autistic children in private schools only. Perhaps you are a former teacher and you would love to provide education to school personnel and other community agencies about highly functioning autistic children ages 5 to 12. You know this subject well, you have a passion for it and there is a great need for it. You can create your brand around this specific audience. Your audience craves the expertise and seeks narrow specialty such as yours since it’s hard to find. They don’t want to take another workshop presenting basic information. They want to know more and are willing to pay for it! Who is your perfect client? Think about it!
Day 6 Shaping your brand essence.
You want to create a great brand but you are so involved in it that you might lose a big picture. Ask yourself these questions! Can I achieve what my brand implies? Do my clients care about my brand? Is my brand message helpful in business transactions? Is my brand making me stand out? It is important to answer these questions honestly since we want to build a business that attracts clients and it also sounds appealing to them. Being different is also important because they don’t want to go to just another therapist offering the same service in exactly the same way. Even if the type of service you provide is exactly the same they want to know how you stand out from others. Imagine that you are a former veteran who wants to specialize in working with military personnel. How would you tell your story to appeal to other veterans and create your brand? What would you use as your brand message? Some possible examples could be: I’ve been there…, In your shoes… What’s your brand message? Think about your possible brand phrases!
Day 7 What’s your brand story?
Even if everyone else provides a similar service you can present your brand differently and still be more visible. Your personal story creates an unforgettable memory in clients’ hearts and gives your specialty that magnetic pull that you need. If you are a customer you have several choices to make your emotional purchase. You usually pick the product that has a memorable story behind. Do you buy Starbucks coffee because you support sustainable practices of coffee growers around the world? Even if you pay more for a product or service that resonates with your values you can always justify it. The product is more than its monetary value. It’s a feeling that you are a part of a greater purpose if even in a minuscule way. Now you can see that you can charge for a product or service more simply because you are giving more than just a product. That’s what fee for service private practice is all about. Giving a client something he feels is more valuable, something he can’t get any other way or from anyone else. What’s your story? What is compelling enough to make people believe you can help them?
Day 8 How to build your brand name?
There is no perfect name for your brand. Many names can be just right as long as they differentiate your business from others and awake emotional response in your potential clients. If you are not sure how to name it please go back to my previous blogs and re-examine the purpose of your brand. Remember that brand name is only a part of your business presentation and the real thing is what you do as a brand. If what your brand does is boring and does not evoke any feelings then it really doesn’t matter what the name of your brand is. Imagine you are an expert in treatment of anxiety disorders and you call your brand exactly that “treatment of anxiety disorders”. It sounds really common and uninteresting even though it’s true. This name does not show your real passion and is not engaging your clients at the emotional level. Do you want them to know that you help them free themselves of anxiety? How do you do it differently than others? Think about possible names for your brand! How will it resonate with your
Day 9 What is your brand purpose statement and its slogan?
The brand statement is a formal way of explaining what your brand is all about. It tells its employees, media and potential customers what it stands for. Remember to keep it short and to the point and don’t use complicated words. For a nonprofit organization who runs a treatment center for indigent population the brand statement could be something like this: To provide the best treatment experience and hope for our clients and end homelessness. Every brand needs a brand purpose statement, but not every brand has to have a brand slogan. A brand slogan is directly aiming at the customers. For example, Salvation Army slogan is “doing the most good.” It is a great idea to have a slogan for your brand only because it is often something that clients remember most which in turn helps you differentiate yourself from others. The addition of a slogan helps you explain your brand purpose and carries an emotional tone. If you are a therapist specializing in eating disorders, it could be something like “You create your beauty”, “You are more than this”. What are your ideas?
Day 10 Putting it all together!
I hope you were able to understand the steps one needs to take in order to create a brand for any business.
Please understand that it takes time and effort, but it’s not that difficult.
You need to begin with a purpose and a vision of your organization and decide what is the most important aspect of your business that you want people to know about.
The image of your company that you create will follow you everywhere, and it will help others spread it.
Your expertise in the field needs to be presented to others everywhere you can so people will get to know your brand.
Don’t miss opportunities that you might not think are worth pursuing. You never know who might help you spread the news about your brand.
You do not have to be perfect at what you do but consistent in doing it. Sometimes you will be disappointed in yourself, and that is normal.
Even the most successful business owners experience failure and doubt their brand purpose. Always remember this simple truth that money making should not be your only goal. If you pursue your passion, the money will often follow but make sure that your brand is something that people care enough to pay for.
And now go ahead and create your brand!