Why should you consider bringing your personality into the branding of your practice? How do brand style guides ensure consistency? What are some marketing and design mistakes to avoid to boost your business?
In this reverse podcast episode, Alison Pidgeon speaks with Samantha Carvalho about Design and Branding for a Group Private Practice.
In This Podcast
- Steer clear from clichés
- Include your personality in your branding
- Group practice branding
- Mistakes to avoid in marketing
- Samantha’s design tips
Steer clear from clichés
I always encourage people to avoid clichés … I’ll try and find a unique way to represent it because I think it’s important to stand out and to try new things. (Samantha Carvalho)
Do not be nervous to be “out there” when it comes to design.
Creating a logo that stands out will help set you apart from the crowd, and you can use something different to bring in or represent a story of the origin of your company.
Include your personality in your branding
Obviously in our profession we want to keep good boundaries and we don’t want to disclose too much about ourselves but at the same time … it’s a highly personal service and you want to know a little bit about your therapist just to see if it’s a good fit for you. (Alison Pidgeon)
Counseling has a hand in relationship-building, and even though it may feel strange to put yourself in your company, that is what will attract your ideal clients and help new clients trust you and the work that you do.
Samantha’s formula for relational marketing is for every five posts that you put on social media:
- Three should be bringing value to your clients: quotes or some tips and advice.
- One should be promotional: offering promotions to new services or offerings.
- One should be personal: share photos of your hike, your dog, or you at work with colleagues.
You can maintain the boundary of not getting too personal, but the marketing world has changed, and people nowadays appreciate authenticity and personality in the work that they do with others.
Group practice branding
I would describe branding as the digital storefront of your practice … it’s that first impression that they have with your practice whether that be on social media or viewing your website or even seeing a flyer. (Samantha Carvalho)
Your branding encompasses:
- Who you are as a company
- What kind of personality you are putting out there
If you are starting to set up your branding, Samantha recommends focussing on:
- What the logo is communicating about the business to the audience
- How your logo reflects the brand personality
- Whether your logo appeals to your target audience
Samantha’s tip: give your designer as much information in the beginning as you can.
The brand style guide:
- This incorporates the theoretical part of branding with the visual logo
- What your company mission statement is
- What your core values are
- A mood board that depicts your style, color scheme, fonts, brand patterns
Samantha’s tip: a brand style guide helps you to keep consistent throughout your branding, even when you change designers.
Consider hiring a professional to assist you with these two aspects from the get-go. It may seem like a big financial investment in the beginning, but remember that you are investing in the success of your company.
Mistakes to avoid in marketing
1 – Not having a solid content plan
2 – Not putting enough thought and effort into your branding
3 – Not including your logo or handle on your imagery in your posts
Samantha’s design tips
In terms of design, a mistake to avoid is not making use of white space. Use negative space and avoid cluttering your design with too many images or lots of text. In this context, less really is more.
In terms of color, keep it neutral, cool, and soothing. You can use some pops of bright color, but use them sparingly and to draw attention to the calls-to-action on your website or social media.
Use bright colors to make buttons on your website stand out or to draw someone’s eye to something important. It does add an extra element but use it when necessary.
Use subtle blues and greens as supporting and welcoming colors for most of your visual board.
Useful links mentioned in this episode:
- For Adobe color schemes, click here
Check out these additional resources:
- Design Sprint 4 of 4: 10 Tips for Great Print Design | MP 81
- Email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Design Services With Sam
- Check out the Practice of the Practice Network
- For more branding advice, click here
- Apply to work with us
Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
Thanks For Listening!
Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!
Hi there. Thank you for joining me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. Today’s episode is a reverse episode of a podcast interview I did with Alison Pidgeon on the Grow a Practice podcast. I hope you enjoy it.
[ALISON PIDGEON] Hi Sam. Welcome to the podcast.
[SAM] Hi Alison. Thanks so much for having me.
[ALISON] I’m excited to talk to you about design and branding, but first before we get into all of that, can you introduce yourself?
[SAM] Sure. So my name is Sam Carvalho and I’m the chief marketing officer of Practice of the Practice.
[ALISON] Excellent. So tell us a little bit about the types of things that you do for Practice of the Practice.
[SAM] Sure. So it’s quite involved, but I handle quite a lot of the in-house marketing for Practice of the Practice. So yes, obviously just the general runnings when it comes to the marketing and I kind of handle the marketing department as well, so everybody who works like the copywriter and social media manager and things like that. Then I also do design work for people who come through Practice of the Practice. So any clients that Joe kind of works with, or that have heard of me through his podcast or on the website, I do design work for them. Then I also help with kind of the management of the various online communities that we have and also offer design services to the Practice of the Practice consultants. Then I’ve also got my own podcast, Marketing a Practice. Yes, I think that pretty much covers it.
[ALISON] Wow. That’s a lot of stuff.
[SAM] Got a few balls in there.
[ALISON] Yes. I know from working with you that you are very detail oriented and you do a great job keeping all of that organized.
[SAM] Thanks. So luckily I’ve got a creative side, but also an organizational side, which helps.
[ALISON] So at this point, you you’ve been with Practice of the Practice for a few years, and so you’ve had lots of experience workings specifically with therapy, practice owners. So I kind of wanted to hear your perspective about specifically branding a therapy practice if you have some tips around that or if there’s just kind of patterns you notice with things that work versus what doesn’t work.
[SAM] Yes, definitely. So when it comes to branding a private practice, there are a few things that I’ve obviously noticed over the years. First and foremost, is that a lot of people do tend you follow the clichés within the counseling world. So I’ve realized that there’s a few kind of things that a lot of people will want to implement, but it’s something that you see often when it comes to counseling practices. So things like the Lotus flower or like, yes, so things like that. So I always kind of encourage people to avoid those clichés. I don’t mind necessarily doing it if they do want to include it because I understand that it does represent counseling, but then I’ll try and find like a unique way to kind of include it in the logo to represent it because I think it’s important to stand out and to try new things. And obviously I’m trying to incorporate new design trends as opposed to kind of falling back on the past the whole time.
So that’s something that I’ve noticed when it comes to counseling practices, is, I don’t know if it’s maybe private practice owners are a bit nervous to kind of be too out there when it comes to design. But that’s something that I try and encourage and then other things is to just include their personality in their branding. So I, as like kind of an outsider to counseling, I think it’s an incredibly personal thing to be a part of that, the company actually represents you or your clinicians. So I really think it’s a great opportunity to include your personality and especially on social media and things like that to do videos of yourself; even just incorporate some of your own interests outside of counseling so that people can kind of get to know you before needing to make the decision to come and see you. Because I think that makes them a lot more comfortable with that.
[ALISON] I’m glad you brought that up, because I feel like that’s such a tricky thing for us to navigate with. Obviously, in our profession we want to keep good boundaries. We don’t want to disclose too much about ourselves, but at the same time, like you said, it’s a highly personal service and you want to know a little bit about your therapist just to see if like it’s a good fit for you. So is that something, too, that you kind of help people navigate? As like how exactly do you let your personality shine through a little bit without revealing kind of too much about yourself?
[SAM] So I’m not too involved in that side of things but what I would say is that, for example, when it comes to social media, there is like a formula that I suggest that people use. That is that for every five posts that you make, three of them should be value add. So whether it be quotes or some tips and advice around mental health or things like that, then one would be promotional; so promoting your services or any other offerings that you have going on at the moment and then one would be personal. And that’s where I encourage people to kind of share photos of their dogs or of them hiking on the weekends or even just them at work with their colleagues or things like that. So I would say, yes, you can definitely maintain those boundaries of not getting too personal. But I think these days, people definitely want to see the people behind the company and especially when it comes to a counseling practice. I know I personally would want to kind of know a bit more about the person before making a booking with them.
[ALISON] I’m really glad you gave us that framework because I think that is so important. I’ve noticed too for my own practice that when we kind of post like a behind-the-scenes photo, like here’s all of us doing something together as work colleagues or something like that, those posts are always very popular.
[SAM] Yes, absolutely. They are definitely going to be the best performing ones. But what I to think can be impactful or powerful is that your personality can shine through in your other posts as well. So it doesn’t necessarily always have to be you revealing something personal about yourself, but it can just be your unique style that you kind of put into your branding as opposed to just kind of adopting something foreign.
[ALISON] And maybe it would be good to kind of back up a little bit and talk about branding in general. How do you describe it to people or what does it encompass because that’s something we’re actually talking right now in our Group Practice Launch community about; is they’re forming group practice and they’re having to think about marketing now in a different way and just even explaining well, what is branding because obviously a lot of us don’t have marketing backgrounds. So maybe we could get into that a little bit.
[SAM] Sure. So in my own words I would describe branding as kind of the digital storefront of your practice. So obviously these days, most people are going to encounter your practice online before actually coming to see you in person. So for me, it’s that first impression that they have with your practice, whether that be on social media or viewing your website or even seeing a flyer. So it’s really that initial impression and it comes down to the visual side of things, but also the theoretical side of things. So it encompasses kind of who you are as a company, what kind of personality you’re putting out there. And that shows in your design and in the style of your website, in the tone of the copy on your website. So it all kind of works together to form your branding.
[ALISON] So if somebody is wanting to figure out what their branding is what do you recommend how they would start if they kind of want to figure out a way to do it themselves?
[SAM] So first and foremost the two things I always kind of recommend starting with when it comes to setting up your branding is your logo. I always think that’s the foundation or the cornerstone of your branding. Then from there is the brand style guide, which really then sets up a good foundation for your branding moving forward. Both of these things I recommend hiring a professional to do. I really think that even though it can be tricky to kind of budget for that in the beginning, I do think it makes a really good long-term investment. So when it comes to the logo design, my process is that I send people a questionnaire, which kind of helps them clarify what they’re looking for and also just forces them to think a bit more about their brand personality about their target audience, what they’re wanting to kind of communicate through their logo.
So if you haven’t thought of those things before then that questionnaire kind of helps you think about those things. I also always encourage people to go and look for logos that they like out in the world, so whether it be other counseling logos, or even just logos of other companies not related to counseling. That kind of gives me a good idea of the style that they’re after because obviously a picture speaks a thousand words and that often says a lot more about what they’re wanting to convey than even the answers that they’ve given to the questionnaire. So I usually encourage people to give as much information as possible initially. And I think that’s important when you’re working with any designer, to just give as much information as possible in the beginning, because that’s going to ensure that they have a good idea of what you’re after, as opposed to them having to try and guess what you’re after.
So if you are thinking of creating a logo with someone, then I would say even now just spend some time thinking about what you want or spend some time looking at other logos and seeing what you like. And then kind of from there, I usually design three options, which they can then choose from. And we kind of go down from there until we have a final logo that they’re happy with which I then send to them in a variety of formats, which is also really important; so making sure that they can use it on social media or print or whatever they need it for on their way website, things like that. Then along with that, I kind of provide a very mini style guide, which I kind of refer to as your logo composition. So that just includes your logo design, but then also what font we’ve used as well as your color scheme.
So that gives you a very basic foundation for your branding moving forward, because then obviously you can head to your website design and you can say, “Okay, cool, these are the fonts I want to use to make sure that they match my logo and this is the color scheme that I want to use moving forward.” Then from there, I usually recommend, as I said, creating a brand style guide, which again is something that I offer as a service and most designers offer as a service. That then kind of incorporates, kind of fishes out what we’ve already done, but it also incorporates a theoretical side of things, which as I mentioned earlier, I think branding includes both the visual and the theoretical. So that’s kind of digging into who your ideal client is, what your mission statement is, what your vision statement is, what your core values are, what your brand personality is, things like that.
We also compile a mood board, which can kind of show your style and what sort of visual style you’re wanting to kind of put out there. And that’s always a nice basis then for anything that you want to create in the future. So it will also include your color scheme, your fonts, any brand patterns that you want to make use of. That’s just a really nice way to maintain consistency because, again, consistency is super important when it comes to design and branding. What I so often see is that practices will maybe change designers or they’ll just kind of follow the trains of design. So when you go onto their social media page, there’s no real consistency. They’re just kind of all over the place whereas if you have a brand style guide from the beginning, then even if you switch designers later on, that’s always kind of the founding document that they can refer back to in order to know what color schemes you use, what your style is, things like that.
[ALISON] I’m glad you brought up the consistency piece because I feel like that’s something that I learned from doing my own research on branding, that you really want the whole client experience to really be consistent in terms of when they interact with your different forms of marketing or when they walk into your office. You wouldn’t want a situation where you maybe have this like very high-end website and you’re a self-pay practice and then they walk into your office and it’s like cluttered and dirty and the furniture is 20 years old. Obviously, that’s very inconsistent and you might make your potential client worried about the services that they’re going to receive just because there was such a difference in their experiences of your business. So do you have any other kind of thoughts about why consistency and branding is so important for people?
[SAM] Yes. So I think, I really like that you kind of brought that up kind of the transition from the digital to the physical, because I think it’s a lot of, it’s definitely something that a lot of people overlook when it comes to branding. They sometimes think that branding consists only of your website or your social media presence, but, as you say, it’s so important that that consistency is throughout your practice. So starting kind of with your interior design and then reaching through to your social media posts. Something that, an experience just with the power of consistency that myself have had is with my own Instagram.
So at Samantha Carvalho Design, I kind of have a pattern that I follow for my Instagram posts. I have like a color scheme and things like that, and it can get a bit monotonous and sometimes you think, ah, should you change it up a bit, but I’ve kind of stuck with it for a while now. And I’ve actually had a few people come up to me and say that they love the design of the posts, but more than that, when they’re scrolling on their feed and they come across one of my posts, they know straight away that it’s me before even having to look at my handle. That’s always just something that I think is so because, and that’s the power of consistency; is just constantly putting out the same kind of style, the same branding. Obviously you can change it up with small tweaks here and there, but ultimately just maintaining the same branding is going to build that brand loyalty and that brand recognition.
[ALISON] So it’s almost like the familiarity with knowing without even looking at your name, or, this is Sam’s post. It is worth a lot.
[SAM] And it’s keeping me top of mind as well. So without them even having to look at the name or read the description they’re kind of reminded of me on their newsfeed on a continuous basis. And I think that’s another thing about consistency is maintaining a regular number of posts over time. So not only keeping your things looking the same, but making sure that you’re constantly putting stuff out there on a regular basis.
[ALISON] That’s, and it was actually something I wanted to ask you about is the mistakes that you see people make when it comes to marketing and branding. That’s one of the big things that I tell people is you can’t just sort of like post here and there on social media. You have to be consistent. Because if I look on somebody’s Facebook page and they haven’t posted for two months, that makes me wonder like, well, how are they running their business? So what other mistakes do you see people making that obviously if they’re listening to this, they could avoid?
[SAM] Sure. So when it comes to social media, I would say not having a solid content plan to start off with. So I think you can tell quite easily when someone is just kind of joy, like just putting stuff out there at random and not having a proper structure that they’re kind of following behind the scenes. So I would say, and that kind of runs through everything like your website and just even creating flyers and all of that. I think a mistake that a lot of people make is they don’t put enough thought into their branding. They don’t realize how much more impactful it can actually be if you just take a bit of time to really think about what you want to put out there and what the purpose behind putting it out there is as opposed to just putting it out there for the sake of putting it out there.
So I would say kind of just taking time to really think about the reason why. And then also just simple things like obviously spreading mistakes, not including your logo or even just your URL on your imagery. I mean, that’s just a great way to kind of have people always come back to your website or understand who this is from. Then when it comes to design in general, I would say white space is your friend. So not trying to include too much on one design or making it too kind of clutter, but always kind of hitting to the more simplistic white space side of things.
[ALISON] I was going to say, that’s the thing that I see people doing is like, they have a logo that’s like very small font and there’s like a lot going on. Like when somebody looks at your website, especially for the work that we do, you want them to feel calm and relieved and, you know what I mean? Like there’s, and obviously that goes into the branding too, like how you want people to feel. So when a logo is really, there’s a lot going on or there’s not enough white space, it’s the website’s all cluttered up with pictures and texts then obviously that’s the opposite feeling.
[SAM] Yes, absolutely. And I know it’s an overuse saying, but definitely lace is more. Something I always say as well when it comes to design, and I think I rated somewhere as well is your design isn’t finished until you’ve taken away every possible, like unnecessary elements. So almost setting with whatever you’ve designed, whether it be on Canva or whatever platform you’re using and even just taking away an element to test whether the design looks better without it and if it does then keep it off. Then it’s not necessarily kind of thing. And you’ll actually realize that you’ll come to a final design that is minimalistic and that only includes what is necessary.
[ALISON] I’m curious too, what you think about using certain colors in your branding? So I know again from doing my own research, that one of the things that’s recommended is like using lots of blues and greens, because they’re very soothing colors. Do you think that there’s room for bright colors in design for therapy offices or something other than blues and greens?
[SAM] So I always kind of encourage people to head over to color.adobe.com. It’s a really great site where you can explore a bunch of color schemes and you can base it on various things. So you can hit over to the explore tab on their websites and you can type in either industry or kind of feelings. So you can even type in like calm or serenity or happiness, and they’ll suggest a bunch of color schemes according to that theme. So even when you do that, when you type in counseling or even calm, you’ll see that most of the color schemes do consist of blues and greens. So I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing, but what I kind of try and do when I’m designing for therapists is I’ll kind of use the blues and greens as the basis, but then try and include a pop color.
Again, in an effort to kind of make them stand out because you don’t want to kind of fade into all of the counseling practices that are blue and green. So what I kind of suggest for a color scheme and it usually consists of five colors, but I would say you’ve got obviously got your primary color that you use on most things. So that can definitely be blue, green, but then you’ve also got one pop color as a secondary color. That’s also something that’s great to use for call to actions. So I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have a bright color to make your buttons stand out on your website, for example, or to use every now and then in your social media post.
So again, it doesn’t need to be overpowering. It can just be so something that is a small element of the design, but because it’s a pop color it kind of just adds that extra element. Then the last three colors will be your kind of background color, like standby colors that you only use if necessary. And again, those can be your blues and greens, more subtle, maybe they kind of just add as supporting colors to the rest of them.
[ALISON] I didn’t know the tip about going to that website and searching for colors. That’s really cool.
[SAM] Yes, and you can actually even, you can upload an image. So if you found an image online that you really like, even if it’s just flowers or something, you really like the colors in the image, you can upload the image and they’ll extract a color scheme from the image for you.
[ALISON] Cool. One thing I’m curious about is if you see any trends happening with branding or design right now, especially obviously in the therapy practice world?
[SAM] Yes. Sure. So I would say the current trends that I’m seeing in design is again, very minimalistic but also very kind of just font. So a lot of logos that are coming out, at least in the design world just include font. So they’re very simplistic, very minimalistic, don’t necessarily need to include an illustration. And then also kind of very monochromatic, so very little use of color, but if there is color involved, then, like I said, it’s a pop color here and there. So I’ve definitely been trying to incorporate that in some of my design work; is just playing around with different kinds of fonts when comes to a logo and not necessarily having to include an illustration, but still maybe creating an icon with just the first letter of the name in a circle or something like that. So I would say very simplistic.
[ALISON] Okay, cool. If you’re someone who’s had a practice for a while and now your logo is five, 10 years old, do you recommend that you update that on a somewhat regular basis or how often, or is that a really important thing to do or if you have a pretty classic logo, it’s okay to not update it?
[SAM] So this is why I said in the beginning that I would definitely recommend hiring a professional to design your logo from the beginning because that’s also going to ensure that it’s long lasting and that it’s not necessarily something that you need to update over time. Because as much as, I think designers are looking at trends, they’re also looking at something that isn’t too reliant on a trend, that’s not going to kind of fade over time. So I would say ideally just doing it right from the beginning so that you don’t necessarily need to update it.
If you are looking to update it, I would say it just goes with, so you could either update it slightly. So it’s not like a massive change and it doesn’t affect your branding too much. Or I think it comes down to how you introduce your new logos. So then I think you really need to make a big splash about it, like even do a bit of a countdown on social media. And then I think it needs be quite different from your previous one, so that there’s a noticeable change in branding. And again, there needs to follow through across all your branding.
So it can’t just be your logo that changes, but then it needs to be your website and your social media designs and your print material and all of that. But then if you kind of make a big splash about it and you get people involved, even in maybe the process leading up to the logo where you post a few ideas and get people to vote, things like that, then at least you’re involving your audience in that change and it’s not something that just kind of happens that they’re unaware of and then they kind of struggle with that brand recognition.
[ALISON] That’s great advice. Sam, it’s been so interesting talking to you. I’ve already learned a bunch of new things in our conversation today. How can people get a hold of you or learn more about the work that you do?
[SAM] Sure. So you can head over to practiceofthepractice.com/design if you’d like to just read a bit more about me and what I can offer. Otherwise, you’re welcome to email me email@example.com with any design requests and I’ll be sure to get back to you there.
[ALISON] Awesome. Well, Sam, thank you so much for your time today.
[SAM] Sure. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for having me.
Just a heads up that I will be going on maternity leave from November, 2021 to February, 2022 and will therefore be taking a break from podcasting. I will most likely begin producing episodes again from March, 2022. Thank you for your understanding and keep well.
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want some print flyer designed head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram at Samantha Carvalho Design.
Finally, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast on iTunes if you like what you’ve heard. Talk to you soon.
Marketing a Practice podcast is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you market and grow your business and yourself. To hear other podcasts like Beta Male Revolution, Empowered and Unapologetic, Imperfect Thriving, or Faith in Practice, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regards to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or any other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.