What’s in a name? When we name a child, we buy books, debate, practice the sound, and then finally after often fighting with our spouse, friends, and/or family, we land on the name of our child. They then become that; they would never be anything but that. It fits.
It is who they are.
When you named your private practice or maybe you are in the process, how did you do it? What did you think about? If you are in the midst, what are you currently doing?
In 2005, I was reading a counseling article and someone mentioned “mental wellness” as a concept within the article. I’d like to say that it immediately took root in my brain, but really it just sat in the stew of ideas.
When I joined a practice as a 1099 in 2006, I looked into whether I should do business as a DBA, myself, or as a LLC. As I researched options, liability, and tax benefits, I decided to become a LLC, actually a PLLC (professional LLC). Once I decided, the only thing holding up the paperwork was a name. I felt a sense of urgency, so I went with Sanok Counseling PLLC.
It’s not catchy.
It’s not fun.
It only represents me because my name is in it.
As a 1099, my main identify was with the private practice I worked at, so it really didn’t matter what my name was on paper.
In 2009, in the midst of the greatest recession I’ve seen as an adult, I quit my job and moved back to my hometown with my wife. I decided to open a private practice in a counselor saturated area. I did a market evaluation and looked at what it would take to stand out. I knew that “Sanok Counseling PLLC” would not suffice.
There were several guiding principles that lead me to choosing “Mental Wellness Counseling” as my name.
Guiding principles for naming a private practice
These tips are the first steps in naming a private practice. Your area may warrant additional market research, but these should get you started.
When you are first thinking about naming your private practice, go to Namecheap (affiliate link) and test out URLS for your website. Since NewYorkCounseling.com is probably taken, you might have to think a little bit harder. For me, I knew that I wanted www.MentalWellnessCounseling.com, so I checked to see if it was open before filing paperwork to have Sanok Counseling PLLC DBA as Mental Wellness Counseling.
Remember, you can always purchase additional domains to help with SEO that redirect to your site, for example I have the following domains all point to Mental Wellness Counseling to help with SEO and to target specific audiences:
Plan for the End
Would you rather buy a practice from me named “Sanok Counseling PLLC” or “Mental Wellness Counseling”? When your name is part of the practice name, it is much harder to sell. Further, when you add 1099 contractors to help expand your practice, getting clients for them is much easier if the practice name does not have your name embedded within it.
As counselors, we often don’t think about selling our practice or having others work for us, but as you grow and achieve success, those transitions should be as easy as possible, because of early decisions you made.
Keyword it up
What is your niche? If you’re not sure, then you should probably stop reading and start thinking more. This topic is so important that I devoted my first podcast to the issue!
Once you have your niche, you can evaluate the best keywords. If you are going into marriage counseling, then you want to consider terms like marriage, couples, or relationship in your name. If you hope to eventually go more broadly, then don’t focus too much on your niche.
For example, I have “Mental Wellness Counseling | A Traverse City Counseling Practice” many places on my website, it’s one way that I go on the front page of Google in 6 weeks for the terms “counseling” and “Traverse City.”
Counseling and Comfort Words
It is a delicate tightrope walk to find words that are soft in both sound and meaning, without sounding too much like a funeral home. Think of it this way, if you could take out the word “counseling” from your private practice name and insert “funeral home” how would it sound?
Mental Wellness Funeral Home…it actually sounds kind of good. That’s kind of sad. Maybe it’s not entirely true, but keep it in mind. Here are some overused terms in counseling:
With that said, there is something about them that are very comforting. Some of the most successful counselors that I know have those terms in their practice names (sorry guys), but they do something with their name, website, and customer service that goes so far beyond just a “nature” name.
Lastly, when your name has visual cues, people are more likely to remember the name of your counseling private practice. The use of colors in the name, objects, or symbolism can help you stand out. I found an infogram that was really helpful in regards to branding; I posted it on my Pinterest.
Good luck and let me know if I can help! Also, if you’re just starting out, consider checking out my weekly member’s newsletter. Keep in touch.
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC is the leading podcaster on counseling private practice topics on iTunes. He owns Mental Wellness Counseling and is a consultant through Practice of the Practice. Also, he is really glad that it is snowing so much in Michigan to bring the water levels up for sailing in the summer. To link to Joe’s Google+ .