Branding yourself as a Psychologist - how to do it well
Building a brand means more than just a company name and catchy tagline. Building a brand means consistency, producing quality content and engaging with potential clients and professional’s alike.
More so than ever, building a brand is imperative in psychology and all caring professions for those going into private work. Brand development is a golden opportunity for those in psychology who are willing to learn the appropriate steps and invest time in establishing a consistent and appealing brand.
For me, effective brand building in psychology comes down to 10 key points. Key points that I am going to go over with you here:
KEY POINT #1 - DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST:
As a therapist, psychologist or caring professional, you’ll be very aware of research. When creating and developing a brand, research is key.
Now, when I say research, I don’t just mean research what others are doing in your field or location, I don’t just mean research your client base and demographic, I don’t just mean research your brand name to ensure yours is unique, I don’t just mean research rival clinicians and practices.
Although these are all things you need to be doing in order to develop a brand, you need to invest time in researching yourself.
Google yourself and your brand name, what comes up? Remember that these are the impressions you give off to potential clients, this is the impression given of your brand and it’s how clients will find you in today’s technologically based therapeutic world.
KEY POINT #2 - CREATE THE RIGHT NAME AND LOGO:
One of the things as psychologists that we can use to our advantage when creating a brand, is that we can use our understanding of psychological principles to develop an appealing brand. Knowing what people are attracted to, what they gravitate to and resonate with is a massive advantage when developing a brand in psychology. This is especially the case when developing a name and logo for your brand.
Additionally, utilise what you have learned from your research to develop a name and logo. What images and concepts are most widely used in therapy services in and around your area? What font is most used? Regardless of how attractive you find them, avoid them at all costs. Your brand needs to be identifiable, relevant to your demographic and has to stand out.
For example, I used to work at a relationship counselling organisation that went through a rebranding process and created a logo of two overlapping circles, one blue and one red, the section that overlapped was purple. It was perfect! It symbolised the relationship between two people, it symbolised that a relationship comprises of two, often very different, identities, but one that can connect to create something new and better. It encapsulated everything about relationship therapy in one, very attractive, simple and recognisable. This is exactly the effect you want!
When developing a brand logo and name, you need to think about who you are appealing to. Now I don’t mean the niche you are identifying, rather what I mean is you need to consider those that are invested in your work. For example, if you want to work with employees of a service, then the employees and the service have to buy in. If you want to work with young people, then the young person and the guardians have to buy in. Your brand logo and name has to reflect and consider all of this.
KEY POINT #3 - DEVELOP A DIGITAL PLATFORM:
Developing a digital platform is arguably the most important point I talk about here.
Without a website that is attractive and engages your clients, the hopes for your brand in psychology are lost. Yet, so many psychologists refuse to see the importance of this, and in fact, some still don’t even have websites.
Now, this means a couple of things. It means that you MUST invest time and money into the development of your website. It also means that if you do, you are already ahead of the game.
Psychologists are guilty of not believing their service to be a business. The truth is, it is. Other businesses and fields spend huge sums of money on their website development. Psychologist in private practice must give it the same consideration.
Now with regards to website development, it’s a good idea to learn what to do by knowing what not to do. A massive percentage of psychology websites incorporate images such as waterfalls, sunsets and rocks. Avoid this at all costs, it easy to think that these images might calm clients and encourage them to attend your service. However, all it does is blend you too far into a crowded market.
Your website has to be consistent with your brand identity and relevant to the niche you work in. You might not like it, but the way your website actually looks is paramount. A client might be attracted to your qualifications and level of experience, but they will never get to learn about this if the first impression of the website is not attractive, engaging and different. Looks and quality come first in websites for psychologists.
What’s more, is that your website needs to be with the times. Research shows that around 70% of people that access the internet do so primarily on a smartphone. If your website is not smartphone compatible, then it needs to be!
Spend money on your domain name, .com does well and it really is worth spending money on this. It makes your website seem much more professional and legitimate. With website development in psychology, sometimes the smallest things are the most impactful. It’s important to be aware of this.
So, you have developed an attractive website that has put looks first. That’s great! You then need to make yourself accessible. Ensure you have links that point people in the direction of how to get in touch with you. List the services you provide in a way that is not too wordy and stands out enough for the client to know exactly what your brand is all about.
Link up your social media platforms, blogs and video content so that the client can have access to everything your brand facilitates and can see the uniformity of your brand simply by accessing your website.
KEY POINT #4 - PLACE YOURSELF EFFECTIVELY IN THE MARKET:
This is where your research comes in handy.
What is the primary focus of other people’s therapeutic services?
If yours is different, then great, you have exploited a gap in the area you work in, but what if it’s not? What do you do then?
Perhaps you want to work with men’s mental health, and perhaps there are a number of services that provide support for men’s mental health, what do you do?
Well, what you could consider is look at a way of facilitating treatment and/or interacting with this group.
Maybe, via your understanding of some of the research, you might know that men struggle to seek out face to face therapy. Perhaps you could offer a service that allows sessions to be conducted via the phone, email or skype. Thus, making it easier and more attractive to your demographic.
Your website could also host a digital forum for men to get in touch with each other and discuss their mental health issues anonymously. This may not attribute to a developing client base initially, but it associates your brand with what men need in this example.
Then, connect this to your brand identity.
In this case, your brand could be identified as the brand that facilitates men’s mental health services in a way that they can fully engage.
The point here is that there will always be a gap in the services provided in your area, based on the client group or the way in which the client group receives therapy.
KEY POINT #5 - UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF, AND UTILISE SOCIAL MEDIA:
If you are not active with social media and developing your brand through these channels, then this is one of the first things you need to be investing time in.
So often psychologists and therapist do not engage well enough with what the client does out with the therapy room.
Your client will be searching for you on social media, and what they find can very well determine how they feel about your service and your brand, like it or not.
In the case of social media, you need to see things through what the client sees.
The client likes uniformity.
The client likes to see the brand consistent through all social media accounts. Meaning the logo, colour scheme and name is all consistent through all channels.
The client likes to see consistent posting and content relevant to their demographic.
Ensure that you consider all of the above, post content that your clients might be attracted to and utilise social media as a platform for interacting more with your potential client base. We will go into this in a little more depth later.
KEY POINT #6 - DEVELOP FRONT FACING CONTENT:
This might sound scary but stay with me.
It’s a good idea to be sharing and posting online other people’s content and posts on social media, but you need to be developing your own.
The client wants an impression of you before they even see you.
By creating content through blogs, status updates on social media channels and developing video content, you are facilitating this.
This is a vastly overlooked area by psychologists and therapists. However, due to this, it equates to a massive opportunity for those willing to invest the time in developing content for their brand.
By creating your own content, you effectively are reaching out to clients via the channels and mediums they use to learn more about you.
This is important to brand development, because if you can do all of this and still maintain uniformity of your brand, then you really are onto a winner.
KEY POINT #7 - BE CONSISTENT WITH EVERYTHING YOU DO:
Consistency is key through all of the points above.
Without consistency, you really have nothing when it comes to brand development in psychology.
One thing that can help with the consistency of your brand is to set weekly targets. Maybe write a blog post a week, have goals for how often you tweet, post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and schedule in live Facebook video interactions with your followers.
The more you are consistent, the more you get your brand identity out there and if that brand is established well enough, the more your client base will identify with your work and engage with your services.
Consistency is key and it will not come overnight. Be consistent with your consistency…if you get me.
KEY POINT #8 – ENGAGEMENT FROM YOUR BRAND TO YOUR CLIENTS:
Engagement with your brand is going to be another way to increase your client caseload.
Clients who reach out to you, want to receive content back. They want to be recognised.
I make it a priority to reply to every comment I receive on all my social media accounts, my blog and my YouTube channel.
It’s great to have a brand established but unless you engage, you just become a logo or a brand name. You need to make yourself become a person that clients can relate to.
In this technologically advanced day in age, the only way you can do this is through engagement.
One thing you could do is to have some free content that you can distribute to potential clients that get in touch with you. The content could discuss aspects of you and your brand, it could shed some light on the services you provide and why this is important. This could be a really effective way to engage more with your client base.
KEY POINT #9 – BE RELEVANT:
In brand development in psychology, you need to be aware of the general perceptions of what clients think accessing psychological services is.
There is a huge stigma and fear around accessing psychological help by many.
Your brand needs to be relevant in a way that it gets clients to stop and connect immediately with your brand as opposed to the others in the market.
KEY POINT #10 - IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO JUST CREATE YOUR BRAND. DEVELOP, EVOLVE AND EXPAND IT:
Your brand in psychology will only be as good as how much you adapt and develop it.
Your attractive logo, engaging name and the enticing colour scheme will only go so far if you do not invest in the development and outreach of your brand.
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About the Author: “Fraser Smith is a counselling psychology doctoral trainee in Glasgow Scotland. Also the creator of GetPsyched, an online psychology platform that creates YouTube videos, blog content and social media content in the field of psychology. Fraser works as a psychological counsellor for a number of organisations and also works as a seminar tutor for undergraduate psychology students in Glasgow. Fraser has a passion for mental health, primarily men’s mental health, psychology, therapy and networking with others in the field.” Check out his website at http://www.getpsyched.org.uk/