branding for coaches

Building your coaching brand helps you stand out in a crowded market.

As a coach, building your brand can help you get known for what you do, attract more clients, and set yourself apart from other life coaches, health coaches, career coaches or relationship coaches in your niche.

Contrary to popular belief, building your coaching brand isn’t about investing a ton of money in designs, trademarks, and a fancy website! You actually don’t need to spend a ton of money to have a strong brand.

It’s important to think about building your coaching brand early on in your journey as a coach. Because if you don’t build your brand, someone else will do it for you. When you take a proactive approach to building your own brand, you get to decide what you want to be known for and you take the guesswork out of marketing your coaching business.

What does it mean to brand your coaching business?

When it comes to branding for coaches, you want to think of your brand as the character of your business. It’s your coaching business’s personality, your tone of voice, your fonts, your colors. But your brand is more than that. It’s also your reputation and the experience your clients have when working with you. 

The good news is — these are all things under your control! When your brand accurately reflects who you are and the work you do, you set yourself up to attract your ideal clients and grow your business. So let’s talk about the various aspects of a brand, why you need one, and what to consider when defining your own.  

Your brand showcases the experience of working with you as a coach.

You might think of a brand as simply a mark that identifies a company, like a logo. But a logo is not a brand so much more! A brand evokes images, memories, and thoughts in someone’s mind. Think: Coca-Cola, Nordstrom, Apple. They all have their own distinct, yet different characteristics. Here are a few more qualities of a brand:

  • A brand is the overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. – Wikipedia
  • A brand is the promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors.  – Entrepreneur
  • A brand is the  set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. – Seth Godin

As a coach, you are the brand.

As a coach, healer, or other solo entrepreneur who is selling services that you provide, building your brand will be based on your strengths, values, characteristics, personality and other qualities you naturally possess.

Building your coaching brand isn’t about being someone or something that you’re not. It’s not about pretending or emulating someone else. It’s about taking the qualities and characteristics that make you unique and highlighting those qualities for prospective clients to see, feel and understand before they even start working with you. 

This is the really fun part of branding ~ taking those qualities that make you, YOU, and showcasing them to the outside world.

As a firm believer that being who you are will help you attract those you are meant to serve, branding only helps to exemplify that.

10 reasons you need a brand as a coach

You might be thinking, “But I just want to run my business, I don’t want to worry about defining my brand!” Here are a few reasons why you might want to reconsider.

You already have a brand. If you put yourself out there as a business — at a networking event, on your website, or on Instagram — you already are creating a brand! So it might as well be a brand that you’re proud of.

Your brand is stronger than a business. If you’re worried you might not stay in this specific business, remember that building a strong brand (think: Virgin), can help you branch out into new arenas.

A brand speaks for you. You can’t be everywhere at once. But your brand can. Anywhere you have a presence, your brand can represent you who are. You can become almost instantly recognizable when you use the same branding throughout all your marketing channels.

Branding helps you establish credibility. A brand gives you a professional look and feel, which creates trust in the eyes of customers.

It sets you apart from your competitors. Your brand helps you get known in your coaching niche and differentiate yourself from other coaches in the marketplace.

A brand makes marketing easier. When you know your brand, you set the foundation for your marketing activities for your coaching business.

It gives you a compass. A brand provides focus and direction for all of your business activities — who you serve, what you offer, what you share.

A brand helps you express yourself. It gives you the opportunity to communicate key aspects of yourself that make you, you.

Your brand helps you get clients. You spend less time chasing customers and more time attracting them. Plus – referrals! People love to talk about the brands they love.

You can make a bigger impact. As a purpose-driven solopreneur, the more you can share your vision, the more opportunities you have to make an impact.

How to start building your coaching brand

Many people think of your brand as your fonts and colors, but it is sooo much more than that! In fact, you want to develop a strong brand foundation first, before you move into the visual elements.

If you skip straight into choosing fonts, colors, or a logo before doing the inner work of branding, one of the following will happen:

1) The visual elements of your brand won’t match the unique value you provide as a coach.

2) You’ll have to go back and build the foundation later.

A strong coaching brand is all about understanding yourself, your values, your coaching style and methods, and unique value that you provide, and then being able to communicate in every place where you have a presence — from your website to your social media accounts, from your business cards to your elevator pitch, and more.

What is the process of branding for coaches?

Branding is the process of creating your brand. A successful branding process requires developing key aspects like your

…and, as a basis for those things, you need to know and be able to communicate

  • Who you serve (i.e., your coaching niche) and how you help them
  • What makes you different as a coach and why they should care
  • Why people should choose you over the competition
  • The ultimate value you provide to clients who work with you

This is why it’s so important to know deeply who you are and your why in your business.

4 branding questions for coaches

Ask yourself the following questions to consider how you will use your brand to set you apart as a coach.

1) Why did you become a coach and what do you hope to accomplish through your work?

What caused you to start this business in the first place? Was it a passion, a dream, a change you wanted to make? What’s the impact you hope to have through your work? Why is that important to you? As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” That’s why being able to communicate your mission and vision is so important.

2) What do you value in your business and what does that mean for you?

Your values are the key principles that guide your business. They show the world what you stand for and what matters to you. Knowing and communicating your brand values attracts clients and partners who share similar values.

3) What are your unique strengths as a coach, how do you use those in your business?

As a coach, your business can be the highest expression of your strengths, passions, and gifts. You want to consider what makes you unique, in terms of your strengths, your experience, your process, and your perspective. This is what will help you stand out among a sea of other coaches.

4) What do you want to be known for as a coach?

It’s so important that you define what you want to be known for, rather than letting others define it for you. If you had to be known for anything as a coach, what would that be? What do you want people to think about you? How do you want to be described? What do you hope your ideal clients would say about you?

Your coaching brand should reflect you

The most important part of having a brand as a coach is that it reflects who you are and the unique value you provide to your clients.

Like anything, a good brand first starts with doing some internal reflection on what’s most important to you and what you want to be known for.

Elements of branding for coaches 

Branding can be a simple yet complex process. You want to consider each of the following elements when building your coaching brand.

Brand positioning

The Branding Journal defines brand positioning as “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”.  What this really means, is that your brand positioning needs to describe how your brand is different from your competition. To understand your brand positioning, you need to understand:

Brand identity

Your brand identity encompasses the visual items you might normally think about when you think about branding.  Your brand identity includes the visual elements of your brand, including:

  • color
  • design
  • logo
  • fonts
  • imagery

Brand awareness

Brand awareness is the extent to which people are familiar with your brand. If you have high brand awareness, a potential customer will be able to recognize your logo and also associate it with certain aspects of your services. For example, Marie Forleo has a high degree of brand awareness in the female entrepreneur space.

Brand values

Brand values are the values that lead you in your business.  Brand values can include things like independence, connection, creativity, consciousness, and support. As a coach, your brand values will often be correlated with your own personal values. You can learn more about defining your brand values here.

Brand loyalty

Brand loyalty refers to a client’s willingness to return and purchase another product or service from you. Brand loyalty means a client will return to you versus your competitor, even if your competitor is running a sale. It’s important to create brand loyalty because new customers cost a lot more to acquire than existing customers! Brand loyalty also creates strong brand advocates who can help promote your brand.

Brand personality

Your brand personality is the combination of characteristics that make your brand unique. If you had to describe the personality of your brand and business, what qualities come to mind? Is it gregarious, outspoken, empowering, truthful? Quiet, peaceful, serene, imaginative? Your brand voice is a part of your personality. Is your brand voice approachable and casual or professional and sophisticated?

Brand assets

These are the visuals that convey your brand: your logo, your business card, your letterhead, your website. It’s important to develop your strategy first and not rush to complete these items as part of your branding process. These visuals are support pieces that work to collectively and cohesively communicate your overall brand strategy.

Brand story

A brand story is the story you tell others about who you are and how you got there. It’s not your personal story, but a collection of curated parts of your personal story that convey your journey and how you can help others. The purpose of your brand story is to establish a connection, trust, and relationship with your potential clients, so they can relate to who you are and what you do.

Brand strategy

Your brand strategy is the process and the plan that communicates your brand to the world and specifically to your ideal clients. Your brand strategy is a component of your overall business strategy, and the two should work hand in hand to help you achieve your business goals. Once you have your brand strategy in place, you can more strategically choose which marketing activities will attract and connect you with your dream clients.

The best time to start building your coaching brand

1. You’ve already set up your business. (If you’re not quite sure, make sure you’ve completed all the items in this checklist.)

2. You have a good idea of who you are and what you do. (You’re not still deciding if you’re a finance coach or a web designer.)

3. You have a general idea of who you serve. (You’re not still in the “trying to serve everyone” mentality. You have a niche.)

You want to have a general idea of what you do and for whom before jumping in the branding pool.

And by working with the right person (one who does a mix of coaching and strategy), you can dive even deeper to understanding your niche and their needs.

If you haven’t checked the 3 boxes above, you basically have two choices: 1) keep experimenting until you narrow your niche or figure out exactly what you do, or 2) hire a coach who can help.

Branding for coaches means sharing your mission, vision, and your strengths   

The most important part of having a brand as a coach is that it reflects who you are and the unique value you provide to your clients.

Like anything, a good brand first starts with doing some internal reflection on what’s most important to you and what you want to be known for.

When you spend time getting very clear on why you do this work, what you value, and what strengths you’ll use in your business, you set the groundwork for a strong brand.

Do you know your natural strengths and how to use them to your advantage? Take my free Marketing Superpower Quiz here.