Branding is usually thought of as something that big companies with large marketing budgets do.
However, building a brand is just as important for a private practice. Branding is about creating and managing your image and reputation. A strong brand identity will help you to be memorable and to stand out amongst your competitors. When you do this, you’ll get more clients. Let’s begin.
You already have a brand
If you already have a business, you already have a brand - it’s an invisible identity, built without your knowledge and based on how people see your business.
Consequently, this accidental branding could be positive or negative. People might already recommend you based on a previous good experience they’ve had. Or they might define you by a bad one, telling people about, for example, a long waiting list or dingy premises. Potential clients may also look at your website, advertising and so on. This is the first impression that they have of your professionalism - make it a good one.
Take control of your branding and you can hope to influence the way that people perceive you.
Step 1: what’s your USP?
Think about your private practice from a client’s point of view. What can you offer them that someone else can’t?
This is your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ – the reason why a client might choose your practice over another. It will usually be one, or a combination of, the following...
- you specialise in a specific type of problem
- you offer a particular type of treatment
- you have a certain amount of expertise, training or experience
- you offer the best price, or a special deal
- you have the most relaxing / luxurious / easy to access premises
- you provide the most friendly / memorable / relaxing service
- and so on...
How to find your Unique Selling Point (USP)
If you’re struggling to identify your USP, try this:
- write down the main services that you provide
- write down your strengths (for example your qualifications, experience, and so on)
- think about other therapists in your area (your competitors), and consider their strengths against your own. What makes you different?
- focus on the needs of your clients. How can you, and only you, meet those needs? What do you have to offer that will make clients choose your private practice over another?
Your USP could simply be YOU. Build on your experience, skills and personality to make an emotional connection with prospective clients.
Once you’ve found your USP, you’ve made a good start.
Step 2: what are your brand values?
Your brand values are what you stand for; what you promise to your clients. This promise starts with what you want your clients to feel and understand as soon as they come into contact with your private practice – i.e. as soon as they contact, read about or consider it. It should then follow through across every aspect of your service.
Brand values can be extremely powerful. They give clients the opportunity to connect emotionally with your practice from the very moment they see your logo, or view your website, or speak to you. When they feel that your values align with what they are looking for, they’ll contact you without hesitation.
- Complete professionalism and utmost expertise
- A gentle, caring approach
- An emphasis on safety and confidentiality
- Giving clients the most affordable treatment
- Quick results
Your brand values are defined by your USP as well as your target market- the things that you have established they are looking for in your service.
How you can communicate your brand values
Here are the first three ways in which you can communicate your brand values...
- The name of your private practice. You may choose to use your own name, particularly if you feel that your expertise and reputation are key to your brand. Or, you could select a business name.
- A slogan. This will ideally encapsulate your brand values ie your promise to clients.
- A logo. This should tie points 1 and 2 together.
These elements should then be used right across your marketing activities - on your business cards, your advertising, your website, blog, stationery, signage, social media accounts and so on.
You can also communicate your brand values through...
- the way you interact with clients
- the environment you choose to work in
- your attitude
- your availability and flexibility
- your pricing
If you work hard to provide a good experience in every area, you’ll create a positive brand image.
Logo design – some tips
You can do most of your brand building yourself. But the one element you’ll probably need help with is logo design. Try to do this yourself and you may look unprofessional and amateurish – and this isn’t the look and feel you want to project.
Get a professional designer to help instead. You can find one by searching for freelance designers locally (using Google).
Here are some tips to make the design process run smoothly:
- Think about and write down some of the words that you’d like people to use when describing your private practice.
- Think about and write down the advantages or benefits that you’d like people to associate with your private practice.
- Look at other therapists in your area, make a shortlist and take note of the logo colours that they use. You want yours to stand out from the crowd.
- Find a designer. Look at examples of their work (if possible) and work with one that you like. Agree a price up-front and ask about any extra charges for design changes.
- Supply the designer with your brand values.
- Tweak until you get something you’re happy with.