I’m a clinical psychologist who works with parents of children with developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, attention deficits, and other mental health concerns. I bring to my practice extensive experience in autism research through my work as an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at UCLA.
A primary goal of my work with parents is finding ways to strengthen relationships among all family members, as positive relationships are essential for healthy development. When parents come to me, we work together to identify strategies that address their specific needs. We talk about behavioral strategies and concrete ways they can support their child’s development by establishing clear rules and expectations.
I enjoy my work with patients and the sense that it makes a real difference in their lives. But once I decided to build a brand to grow my practice, I learned that my expertise in psychology and child development didn’t translate to an expertise in branding.
6 branding lessons learned: My journey to “branded”
Below is my account of what I first thought about branding, how I got help, and the difference it has made for my practice.
1. I thought branding was something I could do on my own.
I felt that my work and its impact on families should speak for itself, and that my practice would grow quickly on its own.
I even thought that branding and marketing wouldn’t be necessary. Along the way, I realized that branding is an essential building block for my practice. I’ve also learned that branding isn’t a dirty trick that aims to manipulate a reaction. Instead, branding is about clearly and concisely presenting information about the services I offer and why they matter.
2. There are so many reasons I needed a brand.
I practice in Santa Monica and Pasadena, near Los Angeles. The area is teeming with therapists. Given the competitive landscape, I needed to differentiate myself and ensure that prospective patients understood what was unique about the services I offer.
When a patient calls or comes to see me, it’s relatively easy to explain what I do and how I can help. Eliciting the first call is more challenging. Getting the word out about what I do through a brand that reflects my values and expertise has been gratifying and rewarding.
3. Getting help made all the difference.
Once I realized that getting help with my brand was a smart and reasonable thing to do, I discovered the online branding company called Brand Genie.
The Brand Genie process helped me access and sort out information, preferences, and ideas that were already in my head. Through a series of questions, I arrived at the message I wanted to present and why it mattered.
Plus, it was fun! The process helped me translate my values and style of working with patients into colors, fonts, and images. From this groundwork, Brand Genie helped me quickly build a logo, business card, and custom website.
4. A brand helped me get to the heart of the message I want to share.
My new logo, business card, and website are key vehicles for growing my practice. But even more importantly, branding has helped me define my core message. When people ask me about my practice, I now have the tools to explain and present what I do, whom I treat, and why my services are beneficial.
I’ve also learned that, like therapy, branding is a process. I’m able to go back into my website to update photos and refine content. Having the framework of my brand provides guidelines for what fits with my brand, and what doesn’t.
5. All of the parts and pieces matter.
At first, I was just interested in the website.
I knew I needed a way to communicate the nuances of my services and the details of my education, training, and experience. The website is a terrific tool for informing prospective patients and helping define expectations, but now I realize the whole package—the guidance through a series of steps—has made the difference.
First, understanding the brand basics including colors, fonts, and images; then designing the logo; then my business card; and then the website.
Now, I have a “brand ecosystem” that’s consistent—and that makes sense to people who are not familiar with what I do.
6. There’s no shame in working with a professional.
Those who seek help to support their child’s development know that there is no shame in working with a therapist. Rather, it’s an extremely constructive and positive step for parents to talk about what works and what doesn’t work and then to receive feedback about the information that they provide.
Similarly, there’s no shame in getting help from a branding expert. It’s definitely not what we learn in graduate school. It’s a creative, constructive, and fun step toward growing a viable and self-sustaining practice.
If you haven’t reached out for help with branding, I recommend that you do!