Episode Sixteen | Season Three

How to Figure Out a Tagline that Helps You Connect

On this Episode of PsychBiz, Howard and I are talking about how to use branding in a way that connects and resonates with your ideal audience.

We share insights on:

  • Why therapists need to create a brand
  • The importance of being consistent with your branding
  • How to craft the perfect tagline for your practice
  • The pitfalls to avoid when designing your logo
  • And more!

We hope you find this episode insightful and inspiring. If you do, please consider subscribing, leaving a review or a comment.

And don’t forget, if you’d like help with your therapist website or branding, you can book a free 30-minute consultation with Sarah at https://SRWDschedule.as.me/discovery

Episode 16 Transcript:

Howard: We’re going to be talking about branding today. I like to call branding — breaking it into two parts, Sarah. I think about what kind of a logo, what kind of an image do you want to create? I know you have a lot to say about that with regard to web design and presentation, so the logo is one important part of it aand the second part would be your tagline. 

And you know, in our last episode, we talked about creating a solid mission statement, which really came from the previous episode where we talked about, why am I doing this? So what we’re doing is essentially, pushing toward an image that encapsulates who you are and what you do, right?

Sarah: Yeah, so the idea is that once you have a really clear understanding and kind of grasp of both what motivates you and exactly how you’re hoping to impact the people that you work with, and how you’re hoping to make a difference. So then,  the next step is to figure out how to express that in a way that is consistent, in a way that is understandable. So that it’s not just about you kind of saying something that’s meaningful to you, but it doesn’t convey the meaning effectively to other people and to do it both through words and also through visual cues. And so, you know, the words would be, your tagline that would go on your website and then the visual cues are — and also the copywriting obviously — and then the visual cues are going to be a wide array of things that are going to have to do with the way that you present yourself visually, and then obviously the kind of most recognizable and kind of center piece of that would be the logo. 

Howard: I appreciate what you’re saying, I was thinking about when you and I first got started on my website, that we talked about building a brand around all the things that I do, and that it’s really important to have some integration around that.

And really, the branding is what creates that integrative experience for the website reader, the consumer that’s looking for therapy or looking for a particular type of therapy or type of person. So, I’m sure we’ll get into other things in other episodes outside of that, but those other things like videos and we’ve talked about this even last in last year’s episodes. Those videos and whatnot are really sort of supported by the branding and really sort of anchored by the branding, right? 

Sarah: Right. Absolutely. And I think sometimes people have, um, a negative or, or misunderstanding of what branding means because they think, well, you know, a bag of chips needs to have a brand on it, but I’m not, why do I need that, I’m not trying to sell myself, right, which I absolutely understand. But the idea is that, you are presenting yourself to people in a way that they can understand in a way that they can relate to, and you’re creating a tone and a feeling that expresses how you want to work with them in a way that then resonates with the right people. And so, that is kind of the goal. 

Howard: So, I heard tone, feeling and resonation. So would it be safe to say that a good brand or a good logo, has tone, feeling and resonation in the viewer or the person experiencing it, right?

Sarah: Right, absolutely. And I think that sometimes — and I know we want to talk about taglines and I don’t want to get too far into logos — but one of the kind of, pitfalls that people can have when they’re making decisions about their logo is I think there are two main ones: The first is to make it too personal to you  because there can be something that has a great deal of personal significance to you, something that feels very powerful to you as an individual. and so you might have the inclination to then use that as a part of your logo, but the fact that you have a personal relationship to this image doesn’t mean that it effectively communicates with other people, that they’re going to have the same response to it. So, if your favorite flower is a daffodil, that doesn’t mean that that should be the logo for your practice, right?

You have to think about things from: what message am I giving to other people and how are they going to interpret that message? What is the statement that I’m making about who I am, through this image? And then, the second pitfall with logos is to make them too intricate because sometimes people want to say so much with their logo and they want it to have so many different layers of meaning. And so, they get very focused on, you know, I want a tree with the specific leaves and the fruit growing and a branch. And like the thing is that, your logo should be very simple because it should be recognizable quickly, it should be something that can be resized in all kinds of different sizes and still be recognizable and clear and, you don’t want to get bogged down in the details.

If you look at really successful logos, whether it’s the Nike logo or the Coke logo or all these other logos, they’re very, very simple shapes that are easy to understand and to recognize. 

Howard: Wow. You know, I’m actually glad we’re talking about logos because that is really important, both points are extremely important. I think clinicians, being a clinician myself, tend to want to be intricate, tend to have a personal element. I remember I said that to you. I said, I want to have some mountains in there because I’m a nature person. And, I’m sure you would agree that it’s okay to have little hints of personal parts in your website and things like this, but when it comes to the actual logo, there has to be a representation that connects to your message. More importantly, I’m guessing, that connects to the message that the viewer or  end user i.e. your future client wants to receive. 

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. And I actually recently just had a project that I think really is exactly what we’re talking about. I did a website for a therapist named Kim Colton and the name of her therapy practice is true path therapy and she’s a trail runner and she’s very into nature.

And so we really made that like, kind of like a core theme. The idea of helping people find their path. And so her logo is a compass with a path on it, and all of the different images that we used on the website had to do with paths. And again, it’s a good kind of compromise because yes, it’s something that resonates with her personally, but the reason that we’re using it is because it expresses her philosophy and how she’s going to work with her clients, which is that they’re on their own path, and she’s helping them find the direction that they want to go. And so we didn’t pick it just because she’s like, I like to go running, so my whole website should be about the theme of running. No, the idea is, we’re going to focus on the idea of a path because that’s how she interacts with her clients and that’s the message we want to give to them. 

Howard: Well, so what you’ve done is simplified the complex, right? You’ve taken an interest that this individual that you did this website for has, and you’ve expanded it into therapy speak, so to speak — beautiful metaphor — and you’ve kept it simple. And did you have to tell this individual, hey, we have to keep it simple, it’s really important. Or did she realize that? What was the interaction, if you don’t mind me asking?

Sarah: Yeah. I think we were very much on the same page, I think that she wanted something very clean and clear, and I think that that is generally speaking the right instinct, when you’re dealing with branding and those kinds of things.

Howard: Beautiful. So, we’ve talked a little bit about logo and you’ve given us a couple of really good points, and I would concur that those are probably my top two points as well. Let’s talk now a little bit about taglines. I included that in the curriculum and in the business plan because I think while we have a mission statement and we’re able to talk about the types of services that w provide and how we provide them, a tagline sort of captures the essence of that mission statement, if you will, in my opinion, at least that’s what I wrote about in my book, and that’s how I taught it to my graduate students. And it’s what I believe in my own business development model, for me. And so I think taglines are interesting, I found — I don’t know if you, with your clients, find this to be an issue, but I found shrinking it down to a phrase or a few words is much harder than writing about what you do. Do  your clients find that to be true?

Sarah: 100%. The tagline is one of the hardest parts, and it’s hard because you’re being forced to say concisely, something that is very, very complex and something that matters a lot.

And so, being forced into that very, very short kind of format is very challenging and it can feel very frustrating, but it’s totally worth the effort because when you have a really powerful and succinct tagline, it means that you’re communicating effectively with a wide variety of people and more people are going to get the message that you want to get across. So, it’s definitely worth the effort and it is a lot of effort to do it well. 

Howard: So how do you approach working with your clients on developing their tagline? 

Sarah: Yeah, so it’s not easy. I think that there are a lot of, kind of, goals that I would have with a tagline. The first is to have it be very succinct, the second is to have it have an emotional impact, and the third is to have it be active. Um, so when we talk about the difference in writing between using a passive voice and an active voice in your tagline, you want there to be action, you want it to be something that’s energizing and kind of makes you kind of sit up straighter and say, oh, I’m excited about this, this sounds like a new opportunity, this sounds like something exciting. And that’s something that you definitely want to aim for with your tagline. So, I mean, I can talk about, if you want, a few examples of — 

Howard: I’m thinking of in my book, my intern, Veronica, she let me use her business card and you know, she’s a recovery specialist, her business was called Rooted in Recovery Counseling and her tagline are three words: acceptance, growth, freedom. And, those are action oriented words, and one of the reasons that I know she had those three words is — I tried to give my students the exercise of, if you’re struggling with shrinking it down to a tagline, think of three concepts, put them in action and boil it down to three words.

A lot of my students would come back with build, change, grow that was mine for awhile, you know? And, it was kind of a fun exercise to get them acclimated to creating that line, right? What are some of the examples that you find with your clients?

Sarah: Yeah. So, I have a list that I’m looking at right now, and I’m going to apologize in advance because I do not remember where all of these taglines are for. I tend to grab them, I have a google doc that I put good taglines into, to use as inspiration when I’m working with people. So, I cannot tell you where all of these are from, if they’re yours and you want to leave a comment on the podcast then we’ll acknowledge you in the show notes — we’ll be more than happy to.

So, here’s one example that I really like. I don’t know who it’s from, but it says, tell your story, change our world. I love that, and if we just want to break that down for a second, right, so it’s empowering — tell your story, right? It’s so much about what you do in therapy, right, and it’s putting it in this incredibly empowering light, which is great because one of the main barriers to people coming for therapy is that maybe they feel like it makes them look like they’re struggling or there’s all kinds of stigma attached to it, right? So, when you put it in this framework of like, tell your story, that’s really powerful.

And then the second part: change our world. Again, what a great vision of — by getting therapy, you are empowered, and then, because you’re empowered, you’re able to have this positive impact on the world and change it, in a really good way. And you also get a sense of how that reflects the values of the people who are in that practice, right? They want to help the individual, but part of the reason why they want to help the individual is because they believe that leads to positive societal change. And I think that’s a fantastic tagline.

Howard: I love that the individual chose change our world

Sarah: Yeah. 

Howard: That’s a powerful statement about removing the stigma of therapy, it’s a powerful statement about the impacts on others, it’s a very altruistic statement and it’s a subtle but yet, huge difference, if that individual were to say, change your world, that’s okay too, but it really creates a different meaning and all, the person reading that tagline might think differently about seeing that clinician and that clinician is putting themselves out as this is who I am, and this is what therapy is about so, there’s both this personal element to it, that’s kind of a small piece, but important. And then there’s this, like, these are the kinds of clients that I think I can help. That’s a great example, did you want to share any others?

Sarah: Yeah, I’ve got a bunch here. 

Howard: Our listeners would love to hear them.

Sarah: Yeah, and just so that one is what I would call an aspirational statement, right, in terms of the idea is that kind of having this vision and you’re kind of inspiring people to share this vision. So a different kind of tagline, which I also think is really effective is one where you basically state the challenge, you show that you emphasize with it and then, you say something that has to do with a positive action. So, the example that I have for that is this statement, this tagline, it says: relationships are hard, reclaim the joy in yours. And I love that, right? Because the first part, relationships are hard, that is kind of making it, again, taking the shame out of like, I’m in a relationship, I’m struggling — they’re saying it’s hard, right? Yeah. Like, it’s not just you, everybody struggles, it’s not that you’re doing something wrong, like this is just a hard thing — there’s the empathy right there. 

Howard: The empathy right there. 

Sarah: And then the second is: reclaim the joy in yours. So, if we look at the words there, right, reclaim is this action word that’s again, empowering, and then you have joy. So you’ve got this really powerful verb followed by the word joy. So, we’ve got kind of that formula of positive action and positive emotion, and then making it personal through saying in yours.

Howard: Can I reflect on what you just said?

Sarah: Yeah.

Howard: You mentioned three things and I totally agree. What I listened to and heard is, state the challenge, empathize, and then the third thing is, really three smaller things — the third thing is: create action that leads to change and presents a different outcome. 

Sarah: Yeah. 

Howard: And you know, what’s interesting in that tagline, I love that tagline because in that tagline, that is emblematic of what we as clinicians do in therapy, and there are thousands of ways of saying that, I don’t think we could ever run out of creative taglines and in you’re in your role as a web designer, are you also somewhat of a creative consultant in that process, where you help them find the right action words and this kind of thing? 

Sarah: Right, absolutely, and I mean, this is part of the content creation process, right? Because we want your website to have a tagline as one of the prominent parts of it, so in the process of creating content for the website, we want to kind of crystallize this statement and have that prominent on the site itself.

Howard: Amazing. 

Sarah: So I’ve got another one here and I know we’re running out of time, so I’m going to do this fast. Okay, so in this one, I’m going to say this one is long. So it’s three sentences, which is more than I would necessarily recommend. However, I think they do a really good job, and I mean, maybe you all read it and then you can tell me maybe not all of it as a tagline, but so the first it says: Austin Center for Psychotherapy and Training for over 30 years, heart-centered work, grounded in cutting edge science, transformation is our expertise and our passion.

So it’s different because this one, it’s kind of a more formal statement where they’re talking about this is who we are and, it’s a different approach but I really like it because it just puts it all out there, you know so much about who they are and what they do and what matters to them, right, they establish their authority by saying how long they’ve been doing it, and that they’re Austin Center, meaning like, they’re not just like one center, they’re saying that they’re kind of this core group of people in their geographic location. And then, they say heart-centered work — which is a phrase I just love — grounded in cutting edge science, which is really interesting, and it really puts a very particular focus on the way that they are approaching, helping their clients. 

Howard: It makes me think of Carl Rogers’ theory on therapy — client-centered therapy and unconditional positive regard — something that any clinician that’s ever been through graduate school has studied and so, it’s got that connective component and then rooted in science, is really about. We also take a very scientific approach to assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and the like and so, I’m sure that their clinical protocols really fall under both of those umbrellas and it’s  kind of an integration of those umbrellas, I would say.

Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And then, the final line, transformation is our expertise and our passion. So like the three main words you’ve got there — transformation, which is just a great word, and then expertise and passion. And so, it’s linking right back to the first two sentences where the focus was on establishing authority and establishing the heart-centered kind of emotional passion aspect of what they do.

So, I think there are a lot of ways to do a tagline effectively and it’s great to have formulas, but also it’s great to play around and break the rules a little bit. And I think that this one does that and I think they do it pretty well. 

Howard: Yeah, so kind of your closing remark, if you will, on taglines is: don’t be held to rigid lines of thinking and presenting. This is an area where you can kind of play a little bit and there’s nothing that says that you can’t step outside, color outside the lines, so to speak. And I think they’re changeable, right?

It’s not such a bad thing to modify —  if you’re constantly modifying it every month, that’s not going to be very useful for your practice. So, you leave it on there for a while, and you morph it in a couple of years, maybe you think of a more creative way or a more succinct way or what have you, or an extrapolation on a line of services that comes from that tagline.

So, I think flexibility and playfulness within the creation of that tagline — and really the logo as well, like you and I had fun creating my logo. I wanted the three pinnacles of the mountains, each pinnacle represents an area of emphasis in mental health for me, so I have a clinical element, a consultant element, and a public speaking element.

And we talked about how to tie that into the creative image and to keep it simple — it’s a very simple thing and it also means that it could mean other things like, reaching the top, you know, that kind of stuff. And I think we had a lot of fun coming up with mine and it’s funny, I had this idea in my mind and the way it turned out is nothing like the original idea and better than what I had originally envisioned and I think I speak for probably a lot of listeners that go through the process of creating their logo and their tagline and, most folks wind up being happy about it after they go through that fun, playful and rigorous process of getting to the end of these principles, these outcomes. 

Sarah: Yeah. 100%. 100%. 

Howard: Yeah. So in summary — and we’ll obviously include the key points in the show notes — with regard to the logo, you had said don’t make it too personal. So there can be a personal element but not too personal, it really needs to speak to the prospective client.

Sarah: Yes. 

Howard: And keep it simple, don’t go too intricate. Keep it simple so that you can morph it when you need to. You mentioned popular logos, like Nike and Coca-Cola — I thought of Pepsi, Pepsi is a very colorful — and by the way, we’re not necessarily endorsing these products —

Sarah: No, no *laughs* we’re endorsing their graphic designers, their graphic designers are great. 

Howard: We’re just talking about their designs — and then you said three key principles about taglines, and then I think there was a fourth one, which I’ll talk about later, but really, succinct is a good general idea. You shared one that wasn’t so, but that works, right, I mean, it’s not always going to be that way, but to try to keep it succinct, maybe in the framework of, it definitely has to be more succinct than say your mission statement.

Sarah: Oh, yeah. 

Howard: And then — this is such, this is so good, Sarah — it’s got to have an emotional impact, I think that’s so valuable. And then, words of action, not the passive voice, but action words are really important, and then you said something that I wrote down, I think is really important and I completely agree, and that’s why I wrote it down.

And that is, taglines inspire a vision, taglines inspire vision. I think that’s the fourth key point, and last, perhaps most important point, is that we’re trying as clinicians to inspire a vision in our perspective, clients who are looking for therapy that teaches them about — in a soft and safe way — therapy is good, it’s safe, and hopefully with me it’ll be a fit. I just thought that that was beautiful that you said that, I wanted to quote you there. 

Sarah: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. 

Howard: So I hope you, the listener, enjoyed this as much as Sarah and I did in dialoguing about it, feel free to ask us questions. I think Sarah, you are an incredible resource for the design element and the consultative aspect of helping clinicians really go through the process of figuring that out. So obviously Sarah, your contact information is always in our show notes and please feel free to look Sarah up. 

And if you have questions for me as a clinician revolving around this process, I’m always happy to answer questions, don’t forget to leave us a review of today’s episode and until next time.

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Howard Baumgarten

Licensed professional counselor, author of PRIVATE PRACTICE ESSENTIALS, international speaker and small business consultant. Learn more at Howard’s website.



Sarah Gershone

Web designer and digital marketer specializing in therapist private practice growth. Owner of Strong Roots Web Design.