Design can make or break your business - there’s no getting around it. Having a cohesive and clear design helps visitors engage with your website, conveys your professionalism, and establishes the “know, like, and trust factor” that turns your audience into clients.
Not only does your design and brand need to be cohesive and clear, it also needs to be consistent. Consistency in your design communicates professionalism and trust; foundational pieces to any productive therapeutic relationship.
Consistency also nurtures the feeling of safety therapy clients need, as any therapist well knows and strives to establish. The design of your online presence needs to do the same.
If an audience member approaches your brand online and sees multi-various fonts, color schemes, and logo variations from platform to platform, how will they interpret the essence of your brand? What experience are you telling them they’ll have when working with you?
Inconsistent branding and design subverts any written message you might convey on your website. Ultimately, it depicts a picture of what to expect when working with you - inconsistency.
I know that most therapists don’t intend to convey inconsistency, but it’s so common because design and branding are often foreign concepts that can trigger overwhelm and end up on the back burner. After all, why should we have to convey professionalism when we are professionals? Don’t our Masters degrees and licenses say enough?
Unfortunately, not in the eyes of potential clients. All they want to know is if their struggle is safe with you.
Let your potential clients know you’re trustworthy by being consistent in your design and branding first.Consistent design elements should be used across the board with your business, including on your website, social media profiles, email marketing, and on in-person content assets.
Here are some of the ways that you can implement your design elements across all those platforms to develop consistency and boost professionalism:
Unless you are working with a website developer to build a site from scratch and are able to make every bit and piece exactly how you’d like, chances are you’ll be starting with a template. Most platforms have long lists to choose from and the process can be overwhelming (if you’re using Squarespace, as I do with all my clients, here are some tips on how to choose a template).
While these templates are a good start, don’t rely too heavily on them - they weren’t designed for your ideal client. Sticking too close to a premade template can undercut your voice, your energy, and your style.
One way to stay true to your brand and boost your professionalism with design on your website is to establish an intentional and consistent color scheme. This is the easiest way to establish stability and trust with potential clients.
Picking a color scheme isn’t just using your favorite colors, however. It’s intentionally considering how you want your clients to feel and broadcasting the essence you bring to your work through color.
In the same way, font choice should be calculated and intentional. Fonts evoke different feelings, and let your potential clients know a bit about your personality - key components of crafting an essence and atmosphere. A youthful calligraphy-esque script, for example, gives off a completely different vibe than a more traditional Times New Roman.
Lastly, whenever possible you should be using your own images on your website. Invest in a professional photographer to take photos of you and your office and it will be a game-changer for your business. Your website’s visitors will feel like they already know you if they see your face and where you work.
All of your social media profiles offer a strong platform to boost your professionalism through design.
A simple start is to make sure all of your profile pictures are consistent across all social media platforms. If you have a moody and serious picture on Facebook but a bright and smiling picture on Twitter, visitors won’t know what to expect from you.
If you use LinkedIn and Facebook, be sure to have an on-brand, well-designed background image. Include a link to your website as well as a detailed description of what you do, who you serve, and - most importantly - your why.
Specifically for Instagram, be sure to use a bio link menu hosted on your own website. This is key! I have a step-by-step tutorial on how to do this under the “How To” highlight on my Instagram profile.
Long story short, this means that potential clients are coming directly to your website to begin with, they aren’t going through something like LinkTree. Speaking of highlights, be sure that all quotes and graphics are consistently branded using your color scheme, fonts, etc.
When a website visitor signs up for an opt-in from you (an opt-in is a freebie that they get for signing up for your email list), make sure all emails in the sequence and the design of the freebie itself are branded consistently. You can do this with things like font choice or email header graphic.
It shouldn’t begin and end there, though. Be thinking of your design when you are creating the landing page and thank you page. A landing page (also called a lead page) is a simple page on your website that explains your opt-in briefly and gives a space to actually opt-in and sign up for your email list (usually with an embedded form). The thank you page is where the visitor is redirected after they enter their information into the opt-in form.
I wouldn’t recommend using the unbranded options that come default with your email marketing platform. Instead, you should create them on your website for compatibility.
In-person marketing may come easier to you than marketing online, but remember that all printed advertising materials like business cards, brochures, stationery, and letterhead should follow your branding.
All printed client documents, gift packaging, and welcome guides should be congruent. By personalizing items that can feel cold and clinical like onboarding documents, you are showing your clients that you care and that they are safe with you.
Your in-person professionalism can also be boosted by how your office space is designed. If you don’t already have clear interior design ideas or guidelines, take some cues from your website and brand design. Look for decor that matches the feel and essence of your brand so your clients will feel consistency through their entire experience with you from start to finish.
By making sure your brand is seen and felt through your website, social media profiles, email marketing, and in person, you are providing a clean canvas for your client to trust and lean into the experience of working with you.
If you are ready to increase your impact by investing in custom design that reflects your unique way of holding space, click here to learn more about how I can help you discover your distinct energy and style and translate it to flow through all your marketing.
There may be hundreds of other private practice therapists in your area, but you have something no other therapist has: yourself. Make sure potential clients can see the difference, right off the bat.