We Are Corporate Communication Therapists

Ideas  /  Skot Waldron  /  05.13.14

A while back I received a call from a family therapist who wanted to update his brand communication. As we talked about his business, his overall goals and his process when meeting with clients, I began to recognize the parallels between his profession and mine.

His clients—individuals and families but mostly couples—typically come to him to learn how to communicate better. Many try really hard to improve but keep making the same mistakes over and over, some simply don’t understand each other. His job? To learn as much as he can about their unique challenges and to provide them with workable solutions.

Our clients—mostly corporations—typically come to us because they want to create or strengthen relationships. They may have problems or challenges they want to overcome, or see opportunities they hope to capitalize on through strategic brand communication. Our job? To learn as much as we can about them, and to develop and implement solutions designed to help them achieve their specific goals.

Boom! We're corporate communication therapists!

Family Branding 101

I've started to introduce this thinking into my corporate branding class. As an instructor at The Portfolio Center in Atlanta, I want to teach something 'big picture' and relatable, so I came up with a curriculum that's centered around families. I ask my students to conduct interviews with family and friends. I ask them to try to capture the essence of what makes them different from other families. And I ask them to define what they think they need to work on as a family. And I ask them to brand an event of some kind that highlights the essence of who they are as a family.

The first questions I get from my students are usually "What if I don't get along with my family?" or "What if my family is completely dysfunctional?". Like all brilliant teachers, I answer their questions with a question: "Do you think there are any dysfunctional companies?" I also let them know that students who have been in that same situation tend to have the best projects. The result? Sure, they use the project to learn a little more about the process of design and brand communication, but many also seem to use it as a way to bring things to light that may otherwise get left in the dark. And hopefully they leave the class understanding a little more about themselves and what makes them who they are. We're all products of our upbringing.

Make It Personal

My therapist friend and I have conducted communication training sessions together in Atlanta, San Francisco, and New Jersey, and co-authored a parenting book. He speaks about the literal side of communication, the tactical stuff. I speak about the emotional, non-tactical side of communication. Every time we give a talk, people get it, because communication and relationships are personal.

What's the point of all this? Our families and our businesses provide us with structure, a sense of belonging, and ways to better ourselves. Communication is one of the central factors that determines success, assuming we're also likable. If you're a jerk, no one's going to care how well you can communicate.

And while it may seem obvious, whether you're a family or a business, relationships can get stale if they aren't nurtured and cared for. So COMMUNICATE. Often. With intelligence and with heart. Because you're communicating with people who have both.


Here's a solid marketing strategy that will give you more overall structure and piece of mind. Check out the e-book for a closer look at the overall process. We've also included a few more resources to help dive a little deeper into specific topics.

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