Did you know that, as a physical therapist and healthcare professional, you have your own brand? Some work hard at creating their personal or professional brand, while others are unknowingly creating one. Regardless of how much time you spend creating a brand, you should realize that it is important that your brand is an accurate representation of you. Think of your brand as a living, walking, breathing and evolving resume. Whether you are a business owner, experienced clinician or a DPT student, your brand will be part of how colleagues, patients, referral sources and potential employers judge you. There is a reason DPT schools and clinics implement a dress code, and why some clinicians list an alphabet soup behind their name. It’s because a good brand will also build trust.
For me, not only do I represent my alma mater and my profession as a physical therapist, but I also represent my company. So it’s important for me to represent my brand in a positive light at all times. If I was to be seen walking down the street on a Saturday morning smoking a cigarette and kicking puppies, I could be the best physical therapist in the world, but I don’t think my phone would be ringing off the hook with new potential patients. Why, because first I would be viewed as a jerk (I mean, who kicks puppies?) and secondly I don’t think that’s the image that people want to associate with their healthcare professional. I want my clinic, and anyone who represents it to be seen as professional, caring, trustworthy, knowledgeable and accessible. So if I want people to view me and my clinic that way, I have to act that way. If you want to be known as the physical therapist of choice for treating shoulder pain and dysfunction, you should display a passion for learning about and treating shoulder injuries, and more importantly get people better, especially the challenging cases. If you do this long enough, this will become a part of your brand. People will know that you are the shoulder expert in the area, and you are the person to go see if you have a shoulder problem. Being branded as the shoulder expert will go a long way in building up a caseload of patients you enjoy working with, keep you employed, and will make referral sources seek you out, opposed to you going around trying to tell everyone how great a PT you are.
So How do you Build your PT Brand?
It takes time, but the most important thing is to identify what you want your brand to be. Take a few minutes and write down or think about how you view yourself, how you want others to view you, and how you think others view you currently. Try to be as honest with yourself as possible. Once you have identified what you want your brand to be, come up with a plan to get there. Everyone’s plan will be different because we all have different professional goals, but the process can work for anyone. After you create your plan, identify potential barriers to reaching your goals and develop avenues to work around those barriers. Finally establish a time frame on when you want to establish each of your brand objectives. Are you meeting your objectives or have you run into unexpected problems? For instance maybe you thought you wanted to become the shoulder expert, but now realize you really enjoy working with patients after they suffer a stroke. No problem, revise your brand objectives, and make the necessary changes to your plan.
Social Media and Brand Building
Things like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even our NewGrad social community are all places that should accurately reflect your brand. Remember that employers now look at these avenues to determine the best candidate for a position. Make sure the message you are conveying in your social media profiles, matches the brand you described for yourself earlier.
Does Brand Really Matter?
If you take one thing away from this article, remember this quote “we are hired for what we know, but fired for who we are”. This means you can have all the knowledge in the world, but without having a brand that meets what an employer or consumer is looking for, then it’s going to be hard to win them over. Most importantly a good brand no matter what setting you work in, goals you have or where you live, will allow you to build trust with people who matter most in our profession, and that's our patients. As physical therapists we get to spend a lot of quality time with our patients, and a large part of good patient care, and obtaining positive outcomes will depend on how much trust there is between patient and clinician. So yes, brand certainly matters and that’s why fortune 500 companies, professional athletes, and others spend millions of dollars creating and controlling their brand.
I truly believe if you identify what you want your brand to be, you will be able to accomplish and enjoy the career you envision. If you have specific questions share them with me in the comments section or send me a message through our new direct messaging system.