Perry (Brighter Vision’s CEO) and I recently chatted about the intersection of branding and website design. During our conversation, Perry mentioned that web designers at Brighter Vision love working with therapists who have gone through a branding process, because these clients have more clarity about their business, their online messaging, and the website “look” they want.
Branding makes things easier and simpler for web designers; it also makes your website design and business strategy super clear.
In my work as a brand and business strategist for psychotherapists, I’ve observed that many therapists daydream about starting or growing their practices, having a gorgeous website, and seeing non-stop clients line up outside their door. Oftentimes, they don’t stop to think about what their website will say, how their colors and images will align with their business, or what they would like their website to accomplish.
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These answers are offered by your brand.
(If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “What, exactly, is a brand?” Then keep reading and check out this post.)
Without these answers, your website is merely an online placeholder. With these answers, your website becomes a dynamic home-base for your business and works like an employee that is 100% “on message.”
How Your Brand Clarifies Your Message
Your brand is the perfect combination of how you show up in the world, who you want to serve, your expertise, as well as how these are communicated through your business. Your brand cuts through the clutter and tells you what to grow and what to let go.
Let me offer you an example:
I recently wrapped up a branding project for a therapist who is offering holistic services to high achieving, partnered women desiring self-connection. Through my branding method, we discovered that this therapist was already using a therapeutic process (that she designed) centered on gratitude. In order to get to know referral sources and potential clients, should this therapist be hanging out at the local Chamber of Commerce meeting, or at her yoga studio’s next community event?
The answer is clear. (At her yoga studio’s next community event!)
This client’s social media strategy, networking priorities, imagery, colors, and phrasing all emerged through conversations about her current work. These conversations led to us pinpointing her marketable (and personal!) brand.
So, What Is A Brand?
Most importantly, a brand is not a niche. A niche is about your client, a brand is about you. Well, that’s an oversimplification. The truth is, a brand is about both your client and you. Both. What many therapists forget is to consider themselves in their business, which results in a generic website. And trust me, you do not want your website to “sound” like every other website. It is the death of your business.
Continuing with my client example…
This client is a photographer. She captures real, in-the-moment images of her life. In most of these images, she is outside, in her community. Her iPhone snapshots chronicle everyday activities, like going to the coffee shop, walking in her city, and observing nature.
Her images represent who she is, but they do more than that: they represent the epitome of gratitude (remember her therapy process?). Which is why we made them the visual foundation of her brand.
What is Your Brand?
To begin identifying your brand, bring yourself into your business. Consider these…
• What lifestyle do you want to live?
Wendy, a recent client, wanted to work only during school hours, because her children were starting Kindergarten the coming school year. We overhauled her services, and as a result, local referral sources began calling her requesting a meeting to learn more about what she was offering.
• What work do you love?
Scott, an author and past professor, wanted to expand his grassroots training efforts to reach therapists on the front line of trauma work. We streamlined his brand to elevate his systemic trauma training. His new brand leads with the expected outcomes of his training: Building trauma therapists’ confidence and skills to influence lasting systemic change.
Now that you understand what a brand is and what it does for your business, here are some reasons why your brand should be clear before you hire a web designer.
Why You Should Have a Brand Before Hiring A Web Designer
1| You’ll understand what sets you apart from others offering similar services
You may be one of the lucky ones – a lone therapist in your geographical area. But this is a rare circumstance. Most therapists find themselves competing against many colleagues in their local market. Whether you are the former or the latter, a brand is a reliable business foundation, because it allows you to grow beyond your geographical area and face-to-face services.
Additionally, because your brand incorporates who you are, it’s impossible to be generic. You will automatically stand out. A brand reframes marketing from “competing” with therapists, to “aligning” with your vision.
2| You will know what you want website visitors to do, based on your business goals
You may be familiar with the phrase “call-to-action” (CTA). Calls to action are invitations that ask your website visitor to go further with you (and your brand) by engaging. Common calls to action begin with the words “book,” “sign up,” or “download.”
Calls to action should not be randomly selected. They are strategic, based on your immediate and future business goals. For example, if you want to build an email list because you want to sell digital courses in the next two years, then you should provide free downloads in exchange for website visitors’ email addresses. Providing free, valuable downloads is one of the best strategies for building your email list quickly.
Your brand focuses your business, and as a result, it focuses your website.
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3 | You’ll know your color palette, fonts, and general feel of your website
When you go through a branding process, the vision and emotion fueling your business surfaces – boldness, simplicity, tradition, innovation, etc.. The words that describe your brand determine the direction of your visual brand identity.
By building your brand before your website, you ensure that your website is consistent with your business vision and thereby, credible.
4 | You won’t experience buyer’s remorse because you’ll be prepared
I’ve had many therapists tell me that they hired a skilled web designer or developer, only to end up dissatisfied with the final product. They tell me their new website doesn’t feel like them, or it doesn’t look like they expected. While these miscommunications between clients and designers happen on occasion for a variety of reasons, you drastically decrease the potential for website buyer’s remorse by knowing what you want ahead of time so your designers don’t have to guess blindly. And the best way to do that is by working with an experienced brand strategist.
Armed with your brand messaging, visuals, and business goals, you’ll participate in your website project with confidence and receive a website that matches your vision, reflects who you are, and engages your perfect clients.
When you understand your brand, you know how you must show up online. In addition to simplifying everything in your business, your brand provides the boundaries for your services, your visual identity, and your website.
Find out if you need a brand, by taking the SHRINK Your Practice Survey.
Give your practice the very best and try out the world’s leading therapist website service, Brighter Vision.
Reach out to our customer happiness team today and learn how one of our custom-built websites can help you grow the practice of your dreams.