When we're talking about projects beyond the couch, it's crucial to focus your energy on creating a brand and then brand recognition! But what about in private practice, I bet that feels foreign and maybe offensive even? Stick with me because what I know to be true is that businesses are sustained when they become brands with recognition, even in private practice.
First, it's important that we distinguish the difference between a brand and a business...
Here's the tricky part, for some, the word "branding" and it's definition are convoluted and unclear at best. I'm hoping I can help break down some of the barriers of this conversation today.
Branding and marketing are intricately intertwined, in a harmonious way!
They are not synonymous. Marketing is the action of delivering the message, while branding is the message or part of it. What and who is your business, at it's very core? Here's how I incite my clients to think of their brand, find a pen, paper and quiet place. Next, ask yourself: What do I believe to be true? What do I want people to feel when they encounter my brand?
Fonts, colors, imagery, emojis and language are important, but they aren't the basis of your brand. They are built off of your brand.
I would argue you to death, that everyone has a personal brand but we aren't all business owners. We have purpose, passions, quirks, whims and convictions. If you're the sole proprietor of your private practice, I'd be willing to wager a guess that you and your business have pretty concise ideals, values and morals that match up almost or exactly. You likely subscribe to the same ethical standard, too.
Since you already have a personal brand which is transferable in it's entirety to your business, private practice or projects beyond the couch, you'll have to decide if you'd like to remain a personal brand or not. That's a blog post for another day, but I'm sure you could guess where I stand.
Marketing is the action of distributing the messages, brand imagery and visuals and evoking emotion, creating awareness and driving interest for your brand. Without marketing, fewer and less desired clientele will be the only ones moving into your sales funnel. Yes, you have a sales funnel, this is indeed a business.
You can fill your practice with word of mouth referrals and keeping Vista Print on retainer to leave 50 pamphlets and business cards in every doctors office in your city OR you can create a flow of only the most ideal clients coming to you. Sounds dreamy but it takes at least as much leg work up front! This doesn't have to be a deterrent though...
So how can you find that harmony between branding and marketing to build a sustainable brand rather than just a business?
Get strategic with marketing, plan ahead, stay consistent! The most important thing you can do to build a strong foundation is to clearly define your brand, it's messaging and then discern how you'll infuse it into every piece of marketing you'll release.
Go forth and build that brand!