What mistakes do people make when trying to incorporate their values into branding? How are values expressed in your group practice amongst the staff? What is the lived experience of your ideal client?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about Brand Strategy for Your Practice with Dana Robertson.
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Meet Dana Robertson
Dana Robertson is the co-founder and Dreamer at Pennant Creatives, a creative agency that specializes in Values-Based Branding. Dana loves providing creative direction, design-thinking, values visioning, and leadership and strategy consulting at Pennant. She has a professional background in Social Work, so she especially loves working with Private Therapy Practice Clinicians/Owners on their brand strategy; using Pennant’s process to help them speak to their ideal clients through Values-Based Branding.
Connect with Dana on Linkedin or email her at email@example.com.
FREEBIE: Dana offers a Free Brand Assessment for the first 5 listeners of the podcast! Follow the link and mention “Joe’s Podcast”
In This Podcast
- Brand strategy line up
- How to implement your values into branding
- Dana’s steps to implement your values
- Dana’s advice to private practitioners
Brand strategy line up
This is a way to look at and understand not only who you are, your mission, your vision, and your values, but understanding the people that you are working with and that you are working for. (Dana Robertson)
The important question that your branding needs to know the answer to is what is the lived experience of your clients?
This question takes you on a deep dive discovery into understanding the needs and desires of your client base. In turn, the values of your practice will speak to the lived experience of your audience.
How to implement your values into branding
Some things you should not do:
- Do not write your values on a wall and walk away.
- Do not use your values to beat people up.
If you have a group practice … this [means] paying attention to how you all gel as a team in your group practice and how you work together. For those kinds of things, you can’t just create a strategy. (Dana Robertson)
When you are incorporating your values in your group practice, these implementations do not exist outside of the staff relationships.
How you bring values into your practice is evident in how the staff communicates, how different specialties are negotiated, and where the team is united.
Dana’s steps to implement your values
Utilize Dana’s RBI method:
Dana’s advice to private practitioners
You are doing an incredible job at reaching your ideal client, and you can do even better to make sure that the things you value and the reason why you started your practice in the first space are made visible to your ideal client in your branding.
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am so glad that you are here today. We have Dana Robertson. Dana is the co-founder and dreamer at Pennant Creatives, which is a creative agency that specializes in values-based branding. Dana loves providing creative direction, design thinking, values, visioning, and leadership and strategy consulting in her role at Pennant. Dana, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I’m so glad that you’re here today.
[DANA ROBERTSON] Thank you for having me, Joe. I’m so excited to be here.
[JOE] Well, let’s start by talking about how did you get into branding, visioning, values-based, there’s a lot of words in there that I like. Tell me how you got into this work.
[DANA] I really, my background is actually, professionally, I worked as a social worker for about 15 years. And I worked in mental health and I worked in housing and worked towards ending homelessness. So definitely would not have told you that I would be co-owning a creative agency, but I started this creative agency with my partner in business and life. His name is Chris Breimhurst. We know him as Chris, the designer. And when I started on this adventure with him, it was because I was looking to do something creative and just see what else is out there in the world of walking alongside of nonprofits, and walking alongside of private practice, clinics and mental health practices.
So what I ended up discovering in learning how things work in the creative agency world and the marketing world is that there’s so much that is tied to values and branding that maybe I didn’t really realize and all of the ways that in the creative process, you can hone those values to really speak to your ideal audience. So yes, really, the way that we learned about values-based branding, what we now know is values-based branding is initially on the work we did with our own creative agency in our own branding process.
[JOE] Oh, that’s so awesome. So when you say your own process, take us through kind of what you were doing for yourself that then you expanded into its own business.
[DANA] So we actually, when I joined Chris in this initiative, we were under his previous company name and his previous brand that he had for the freelance projects that he was doing, because he was a freelancer and did a bunch of other things. So when we really started focusing in, on wanting to be a creative agency, that specializes in branding, we had to rebrand ourselves. So we started with one question; it was the only way I knew how to do it. I was like, I don’t know how anybody else does branding, but this is what I’m going to do. So we started with the question who are we? And being a partner in life, you know we have a family and we have this life and so, but we were like, who are we professionally? Who are we as an agency?
And that just took on a life of its own and it really led us to understand the process that we know as value-based branding, because we started with listing out our values, the things that we value. In doing that, we were able to not really tie ourselves to the things that we thought we needed to have to be a creative agency. We were able to really just name what we cared about and that freed us up to then understand this process of not just existing, to create beautiful content as a company, but creating content alongside of helping companies understand their values and how that’s tied to the brand. So we do a lot of work in what we learned. We apply what we’ve learned and we do a lot of work now in helping people understand the difference between the traditional brand definition, which is that process of choosing logo, colors, a tagline, service list, a look and feel and instead helping them understand values-based branding, which really is a process.
It’s a process to uncover and implement those set of values that then define your brand authentically. So the beauty of that is it does include that marketing and design, those marketing design activities that every business needs, but it also reaches to the core of who you are. It can reach to the process of how you connect with your clients. It reaches to how people feel when they sit in your waiting room, how your team works together. So all of those things are included in brand. So we work a lot with companies in helping them understand and identify what that means for them and their business.
[JOE] So walk us through that process of discovering kind of your values and then how you pull that into your branding.
[DANA] So every single company or practice that we work with, we start with what we call a brand strategy lineup. And this is a way to look at and understand not only who you are, your mission, your vision and your values, but understanding the people that you are working with and that you are working for. I use, a lot of times I use lived experience. So what is the lived experience of the person that your practice is looking to serve? So real, that’s a deep dive discovery and understanding that person or those people, that group of people. And in doing that, you can understand not only people, but also then how those values that helped you start the practice in the first place can really speak to that person.
So my brand strategy lineup really helps to get at that in several different ways. I always say that the creative process really lends itself to kind of discovering the values that you know and the values you didn’t know you had and then the application of that. So that’s really where we start. And then I always explain that, because companies and practices come to me usually with a problem or a service that they need so I’m always explaining to our people that you it’s, my friend and colleague Elizabeth Knox, she explained it this way. So she said I could borrow it. It’s work to power basically. So the first power of our work is the deliverable. The thing that you came to me for.
A lot of times, people come to us for a website or social media management or an overall new brand and copy surrounding that. So we are going to deliver that, but in the process what the second power is looking at your organization and determining where the work that we’re doing about values will impact your organization as a whole. And then our third power is always individual change and impact. So helping leaders of practices understand how that changes what they do and how they approach the work that they’re doing and the way that their practice is growing and where they’re going.
[JOE] Wow. Okay, I like that idea of kind of starting with the deliverable, but then kind of switching. Now, I would imagine some people feel like they have maybe incorporated their values into their branding and their practice, but maybe they haven’t. Where have you seen people maybe, I don’t want to say screw up, but where they feel like, oh, I already incorporated my values in, and then they work with you and they say, oh, whoa, I totally missed the mark. What are some mistakes maybe people make around incorporating their values into their branding that you help them kind of move out of?
[DANA] That’s a great question. So the implementation is the secret sauce, basically in this value space branding. I always jokingly, but kind of seriously tell a lot of the people that we work with, there’s a couple rules about values-based branding, couples things you should not do. So the one is don’t write your values on a wall and walk away. Because that’s not value based branding. We all know it. Every company says they have values. So don’t do that. And then number two is, do not use your values to beat people up. We say that jokingly, but that’s the thing. When you’re using values to drive your brand, there is always that risk of well-meaning, well intention, strategy and plans that you make around the values. And really with values-based branding, often it comes down to the micro moments and understanding where the values will fit to those small moments that clients have when they are interacting with your reception desk or interacting with and saying goodbye to the clinician they just met with.
I think this also applies internally, and I try to really stress that, is that if you, you have a group practice specifically this is paying attention to how you all gel as a team in your group practice, how you work together. And those types of things, you can’t just create a strategy and have it be a strategy, the implementation, those micro moments of how your team talks to one another and how you’re going to handle maybe different specialties, but in one space and where are you going to be united and how are you going to work that out as a team? So I think that I do a lot of that in just, we come up with a general a plan, but then it is like talking through those micro moments.
So it’s, and it can be, here’s the thing, it can be talking through those micro moments, in a visual sense, in a marketing sense. And I find that, especially with like social media management, understanding that and understanding that language is everything when it comes to actually expressing the values of your practice to the people that need to hear it the most. So it can be that, but it can also be work with teams and helping people understand those really important aspects of your practice and your values that you want to see and how do you get people to come along with you on that?
[JOE] So what does that practically look like in say social media, because I think some practices may value particular things, but then translating that kind of internal value or even collective value within the practice, into the visual, into the videos, into the promo or the logo, that’s a hard jump for some people. So what does that practically look like when people are taking something that might be their personal value or their practice value and then putting it out in social media?
[DANA] So there are a couple things, but I think the great thing about brand is always that you can take. It doesn’t always have to come from just reflection of the person because we’re all professionals. And specifically in the therapy practice world, it is that you want to create good, healthy boundaries that you can express. And that includes social media. So it is taking the parts of the values that can be expressed professionally and then matching that with the lived experience of the people that you would know you want to serve. And we all all know, like it is really important to have a very specific target audience, but I think even more so it’s understanding how that target audience looks to authentically connect with your practice, AKA your brand.
So basically the work that I do is taking the time to understand your specific target audience. And I find it fascinating because every clinician has a different person that they’re looking to reach and then understanding language within that because you have to take on a different voice when you are considering and curating content. So it’s all kind of wrapped into the work that we do and it is that intersection of where the values that your practice holds meet with the authentic connection that your potential clients are looking to make
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[JOE] I’m wondering are there any case studies of people that shifted their branding when they were working with you or implementing some of these things to really kind of give some meat to the concepts to understand what this looks like in kind of everyday practice?
[DANA] Yes. So I would say, let’s see, okay, well fascinating. I’ve had a really fascinating time with Tasha Oswald, Dr. Tasha Oswald of Open Doors Therapy. She has a private practice in the Silicon Valley and it is specifically for young adults who are transitioning into the workforce or transitioning into college. These young adults are neurodiverse and higher functioning. So they’re incredibly brilliant individuals who are looking to find ways, how to make it in the world as an adult in a career. And there’s, like, it’s a really exciting time to be doing that in the Silicon Valley because there’s so many brilliant individuals there that are also identifying as neurodiverse.
So with Tasha, it took us really trying to understand her vision for what she thought her audience really needed to hear. So we actually take a real psychoeducational type of perspective because her neurodiverse individuals in this specific situation, there isn’t a lot of resources out there for them. So it can be really, really challenging to find help or find support or find any kind of articles of like people who look like them. So it was being able to identify, find that, identify that the lived experience of Tasha’s clients and being able to offer them something that they have been looking for and really, really need. So it has kind of created this, by doing the psychoeducational perspective and understanding the language and the specific concerns of this community, we’ve been able to create something that is really reaching this neurodiverse community, but then also speaking to them.
And we get that through people from all over the world are reaching out to Tasha’s practice and saying like, “How can we connect with your services? This is incredible. I don’t have anything like this in my area.” So that was really good confirmation that we were putting out the right kind of content that created this kind of community in her social media presence, which was kind of cool. And it’s interesting because it’s not maybe the community that you would think. It’s not like a community that interacts with one another, but it is drawing and is still very supportive, I think in a way that like people feel alone and they’re connecting and not feeling so alone anymore. And I think that’s pretty cool.
[JOE] And what do kind of ongoing efforts look like when somebody wants to keep, so they get their initial push of their values-based branding, that’s going, so say someone keeps moving forward in this idea, six months and 12 months in, how does that change? What do they need to evaluate? What do they need to think through?
[DANA] So I think the continuation is, that’s a really good point, Joe, because it is a process, as I said. So it is kind of visiting and revisiting where we’re at and where we’re going with the values and how it relates to your brand and then how it relates to your messaging. So with the work that we do with our clients, a lot of it is like revisiting. So if we create something for them, like we create a social media strategy and we’re doing ongoing content, for instance, it would be to revisit and take stock and look. And our brand strategy lineup, I tell everyone when we get started with that, it’s a working document that you take with you, but that we continue to use so that you’re revisiting those important elements of your brand consistently.
Because it really is incredibly important to do kind of, you know you don’t just put a brand up and leave it. You’ve got to continue to work on it. You’ve got to continue to try to understand it. And it will evolve as your business grows and it will evolve as your services continue to morph and change, you bring new people on and that kind of thing. So yes, six months down the road, we’ve launched our initial strategy and we take some time to look at it and see where we’re at, see what we need to be doing. And that’s kind of an ongoing relationship that I have with a lot of our clients.
[JOE] What are some strategies that whether or not people work with you that they can employ in their own business? Because a lot of what we talked about is how kind of you operate. But if someone’s listening to this and they say, I want to employ some of these strategies just on my own, what would you recommend? What might be three or five points that you would have them consider?
[DANA] Absolutely. We like to tell everyone that your brand has values, whether you’ve intended to have values in your brand or not. So I think one of the best first steps that anyone can take is utilize our RBI method. We have a lot of, side note, we have a lot of baseball references in the work that we do because we both love baseball. I’ll let you all visit our website to learn more about that story and what’s with the baseball stuff. But RBI stands for runs batted in, in baseball, but at RBI at Pennant stands for Reed Browse Inquire. So what you’re doing when you do that is looking at your existing content. You can take any of your existing like marketing content, you can look at your, I always use the waiting room, but it is such a fascinating place to like really look at and see does it reflect my brand or my values. You can look at your therapy office and you can say like, first off read what can be read.
And this is actually looking at the words that are maybe on your webpage or the things that are posted on the walls of your know practice or the things that you tell clients before they come in. So take a second and read that. I mean I suggest too, like doing this with one specific part of your brand. So choose one thing and do this. So read and kind of take note, what are all of the things that can be read in that, in what you are examining and then you take note of like, what are the words that stand out to you? Then browse. So then when we browse, oh, the other thing about the words is you need to understand the tone of the words that are being spoken. Even if it’s writing page, there is always a tone and you need to pay attention to that tone.
So you’re looking at that, you’re reading, you’re making notes, a pen and paper. Make the notes, then browse take a minute and look at the imagery that is existing in the space or on the web page that you’re looking at. Pay attention to the colors, pay attention to the images that you have there and why were they chosen, what are the colors speaking? Are they calming greens and blues? Are they more striking, bright and bold and kind of take note of those and what you’re seeing in your browsing.
And then the last step is inquire. Inquire is really just stepping back, looking at the evidence before you and asking yourself, okay, whether I knew who I was or what I was about or not, would these notes that I just took, would they actually reflect the values that I want to be expressing in my brand. And if somebody stumbled upon this webpage or stepped into my office, would they truly be able to resonate with the values that I want them to resonate with? Is it speaking what I want it to? So that is just a really quick way that you can assess your brand and where you’re at presently. And that’s the thing, like if you look at the really strong brands out in just anywhere, there are a lot of really strong brands that speak the values very clearly, if you were to look. I like to use Starbucks as an example because it is very apparent what they’re about if you looked at their webpage. So that’s something that I encourage everyone to do. And I actually have a guide called the RBI Guide. I will actually put the link, give you the link to that, Joe, so that you can share that.
[JOE] I’ll put that in the show notes. Awesome. Well, the last question I always ask is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[DANA] That’s a great question. I would say that I really want them to know first off, you’re doing an incredible job at reaching your ideal client and you can do even better, immeasurably better if you take the time to make sure that the things that you value and the reason you started the practice in the first place is very clear and apparent to your ideal audience. So take the time to think about your values and how they connect to the really good work that you’re already doing.
[JOE] So great. And Dana, if people want to connect with you more, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?
[DANA] You can always check out our website. It’s raisethepennant.com it’s and all of my social handles are all raisethepennant.com. Also, please, you can connect with me, my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also offering to the first five people from your podcast that reach out and want to do a free brand assessment with me. I’m going to share that link with you as well, Joe. This is one-on-one time with me, where I get to help you look at your brand, pick out three strengths in one area of focus and are really fun. I love doing them. So if you’re interested, reach out to me for that and check the link in Joe’s show notes for that.
[JOE] Awesome. Well, Dana, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[DANA] Thank you so much for having me, Joe.
[JOE] What an awesome interview? Go take some action. Think about your brand strategy for your practice. Go do something.
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And my book Thursday is the New Friday just launched on Tuesday. If you have not picked up your copy now is the time because if you want to be a part of that mastermind group, we’re doing a mastermind group, if you bought 10 copies of Thursday is the New Friday a or more, you get to be in a personalized mastermind group where for six weeks we are going to be hanging out and talking all about the book and how you’re implementing it and sharing ideas and testing things out. So if you want to be a part of that exclusive mastermind group, make sure you head on over to Amazon or your favorite bookstore and order 10 copies of Thursday is the New Friday. It’s available digitally, audible, you can get a regular copy, do a combination. Just make sure you submit your receipt over at thursdayisthenewfriday.com to get access to that mastermind group.
So thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day. I’ll talk to you soon.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard 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 other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.