BrandingStrategy

Brand messaging 101: The ultimate guide

Brand messaging 101: The ultimate guide

Summary

Brand messaging involves the communication of your business’s identity, both internally and externally. It is crucial to maintain consistency and uniqueness in your brand messaging to effectively showcase your business’s essence. Discover the concept of brand messaging and explore six steps to develop a personalized brand messaging framework that enhances your marketing efforts.

There is a distinction between simply communicating about your business and effectively communicating as your business. The latter is known as brand messaging, which encompasses how your company expresses itself. By maintaining consistent brand messaging, you can cultivate a loyal community, encourage word-of-mouth marketing, and establish a distinct brand identity for your business.

What is brand messaging?

Brand messaging refers to the voice of your brand, representing a cohesive and strategic form of communication that highlights your business. It is designed to convey your distinctive value proposition, or brand promise, to your specific target audience. The primary objective of aligning your brand messaging is to ensure that you deliver the appropriate messages at the opportune moments, thereby stimulating others to share information about your business. By employing effective brand messaging, you can influence public relations and shape others’ perceptions and emotions toward your business.

The brand of your business represents its unique personality, and brand messaging serves as the means of communication. For instance, your brand personality can be characterized as an expert, fun, sophisticated, honest, authentic, or friendly. In your brand strategy, it is essential to determine how you wish your brand to be perceived and align your messaging accordingly. For instance, if you aim to establish your brand as an expert, your brand messaging framework should incorporate technical writing and statistical information. On the other hand, if you desire your brand to be viewed as friendly and quirky, it would be wise to reduce the emphasis on statistics and incorporate humor, puns, and even emojis into your messaging.

Internal vs. external brand messaging

Brand messaging encompasses two distinct strategies: internal and external. Internal brand messaging pertains to how individuals, teams, and executives communicate about your company within the organization. On the other hand, external brand messaging governs how you communicate with customers and the general public. Both forms of messaging hold significance in brand positioning; however, it is crucial to note that they should not be identical.

For instance, you may utilize two separate social media accounts—one for internal use by employees and another for public-facing interactions. The internal account can feature information from your benefits team or external vendors, such as your office caterer. In this internal account, your brand messaging will be more casual and informative, reflecting a sense of familiarity. Conversely, the brand messaging on external social media accounts will be meticulously crafted and tailored. Even if your brand aims to convey a sense of familiarity externally, the messaging will always be somewhat more restrained compared to internal communications.

Why is a brand messaging framework important?

Your brand messaging serves as a means to convey your brand’s narrative, which in turn fosters trust between your brand and your customers. However, there are several inherent advantages to formulating your fundamental brand messaging, including:

  • Organic word-of-mouth marketing remains a powerful tool, even in the digital era. It remains the most effective method for securing endorsements for your brand. Regardless of how extensively you highlight your brand’s value, people ultimately rely on recommendations from their friends when making purchasing decisions. Brand messaging establishes a profound connection with customers, guiding them on how to effectively articulate and promote your brand to others.
  • Having a well-defined core message ensures consistency across your marketing materials. This means that your messaging, design, products, and content marketing align harmoniously with the same fundamental values.
  • Establishing a unique brand identity is crucial for customers to connect with your brand. Brand messaging plays a vital role in communicating your organization’s essence, providing customers with a clear understanding of what to anticipate from your business.
  • Having a well-defined brand messaging strategy facilitates organized branding efforts. Whether you are writing a creative brief, crafting an elevator pitch, or revamping your homepage, a clear brand messaging strategy guides the creator and ensures that they maintain consistency with the brand’s essence.

6 steps to create a successful brand messaging framework

The most effective brand messaging appears effortless, but in reality, it requires significant thought and effort behind the scenes. Building a robust brand messaging framework involves careful consideration and work to ensure it appears seamless when presented to others. To construct your brand messaging framework successfully, follow these six steps.

1. Create a brand positioning statement

Your mission statement serves to clarify the purpose of your company, while your vision statement outlines your future direction. Before delving into brand messaging, it is essential to utilize one or both of these statements to define your company’s identity, values, and goals. Subsequently, these statements can be leveraged to craft your brand positioning statement—an internal statement that succinctly describes the value your product or service offers to your industry or target audience. It is important to note that while the mission and vision statements are more broad and purpose-oriented, the brand positioning statement is a concise and specific summary that highlights how your product or service addresses your customers’ needs and challenges.

Your brand positioning statement should encompass your company’s mission, the approach you’re adopting to achieve it, the significance of your efforts, your target audience, and their pain points. As an illustration, suppose you are a financial technology company aiming to revolutionize credit card payment processing. Your brand positioning statement might read as follows:

We founded our company with the purpose of streamlining payment processing for the emerging wave of small businesses. Through cutting-edge technology, we are revolutionizing the industry by significantly reducing processing time by three seconds, enabling our customers to generate revenue more swiftly. As a rapidly growing startup, we have already achieved remarkable success, with a staggering $12 million in revenue generated in the previous quarter alone. Distinct from other fintech startups, our unwavering focus lies in fostering sustainable long-term growth that benefits our employees, investors, and the companies we serve.

2. Competitor analysis

Prior to initiating communication with your customers, it is beneficial to understand the existing approaches employed to engage them. In simpler terms, it is crucial to ascertain the brand messaging employed by your competitors. By gaining insights into how your competitors position themselves in the market, you can effectively differentiate your key messages when targeting the same customer base.

Suppose your primary competition employs a snarky and playful brand voice. In such a scenario, there exists an opportunity for you to establish yourself as an expert in the field. While they rely on humor, you can emphasize statistical evidence. It is crucial to recognize that neither approach is inherently right or wrong as long as they effectively resonate with your target audience. For instance, if you are directly advertising toys to children, citing statistics may not be suitable (although it might be helpful for parents).

3. Develop a unique brand voice

Your brand voice is the expression used to convey your brand’s marketing messages. In today’s competitive marketplace, numerous brands strive to capture attention by shouting loudly. However, although a click-bait approach might yield short-term results, it is not an effective method for cultivating long-term customer conversion and engagement.

Hence, it is essential to cultivate a distinctive brand voice. A robust brand messaging approach directly addresses your target audience, focusing on their challenges and difficulties, while highlighting how your brand can provide assistance. For instance, certain companies that specialize in direct-to-consumer (DTC) products for women have adopted more inclusive campaigns. By featuring women of diverse body shapes, sizes, and ages in their advertisements, they employ a relatable brand voice. Conversely, utilizing images of picture-perfect models could potentially alienate some potential customers.

4. Create a tone and style guide

After establishing your preferred tone of voice, it is crucial to communicate it effectively to your team. Creating a comprehensive tone and style guide allows you to internally share this information with all individuals responsible for representing your brand. Typically, this guide is shared among marketing and advertising teams; however, it can also be extended to customer-facing roles like sales teams.

By implementing a tone and style guide, you set branding benchmarks that serve as the standard within your company. These benchmarks establish the baseline against which success can be measured and defined. While it is acceptable to deviate from these guidelines as you gain a better understanding of your brand’s groove, it is essential to establish the rules initially to ensure accurate measurement and definition of success. Maintaining cohesiveness in branding through a tone and style guide enables employees to consistently communicate about your brand in a powerful manner. Simultaneously, it establishes the foundation for metrics that can be analyzed and reported to evaluate the effectiveness of your brand messaging.

5. Talk to your customers

Your customers aren’t passive recipients of your brand messaging; they actively participate in the conversation. While it is important for customers to be aware of the positive aspects of your brand, solely focusing on listing selling points and key differentiators can create a sense of disconnection with your customer base. Ultimately, customers desire to be heard and understood. If your brand constantly dominates the conversation, it hinders your ability to truly listen to your customers and meet their needs.

Rather than simply broadcasting information, your goal is to initiate a dialogue and actively engage with your customers. This is where the role of community management becomes crucial. A social community manager serves as the bridge between your organization and its social media audience. When a customer expresses their admiration for your product in a tweet, effective customer engagement involves responding in a positive and appreciative manner. Naturally, the specific response will depend on your brand’s voice and tone. The key is to ensure that you actively respond and engage with your customers across various communication formats.

6. Evaluate and change

In the dynamic realm of digital marketing, change is inevitable—customers evolve, and so should your messaging. Rebranding is a natural and integral aspect of an ongoing marketing strategy, signifying the evolution of your initial brand messaging. It is not about discarding your existing brand, but rather recognizing and adapting to the changing landscape and circumstances.

Here’s a Brand Messaging Framework To Use As A Guide: Credit Matt Davies

For instance, your brand messaging may undergo alterations when there is a shift in your target customer. At times, as your business grows and evolves, you may discover another customer segment that you can cater to more effectively. It could be a transition from targeting individual contributors to focusing on executives. In such cases, it becomes necessary to adapt and modify your brand messaging to align with the new target audience.

Where to use brand messaging (with examples)

Once you’ve created your brand messaging, use it in all your marketing campaigns. This keeps messaging, and ultimately your brand, more memorable and consistent. Use your branding messaging for:

Slogans and taglines are concise expressions, typically consisting of a few words or a short sentence, designed to immediately resonate with the reader.

  • Example: Nike embraced brand messaging from the beginning by adopting an inspiring tone. When you engage with Nike’s marketing materials, you experience a sense of being coached. This approach is purposeful and carefully planned, exemplified by their renowned tagline “Just do it.”

Social media listening: Engaging with audiences who share, post, or comment about your brand from your brand’s social media accounts.

  • Example: Taco Bell transformed from a simple fast food chain to achieving remarkable success and viral popularity on social media. How did they do it? They harnessed a snarky and humorous brand voice, leveraging it to actively engage with their followers in meaningful conversations. The outcome is the creation of shareable and captivating content that revitalizes their audience’s affection for the brand.

Content marketing: Any creative content pushed out by your brand, including blog posts, newsletters, and thought leadership articles.

  • Example: Buffer is a social media management platform. Their podcast, The Science of Social Media, discusses topics and research related to marketing and communications. The approach positions their brand as an expert in their field, making it more likely that customers will trust and remember them.

Advertising: Advertising is when your company purchases the use of a specific space to showcase their brand. 

  • Example: Apple products might have some of the most recognizable TV commercials in advertising. Their iPhone commercials often show a person using their phone while going about their day in a happy, relatable way. There’s almost always a catchy song and sometimes, happy dancing, to go with it. From a customer standpoint, Apple’s advertising shows that their products aren’t just desired commodities, they also make you feel good. This positive association encourages customers to buy their products.

Read: Marketing vs. advertising: What’s the difference?

Press releases: A story that publicly releases new information about your company, including product launches, earnings reports, and organizational changes. 

  • Example: Recently, any company with a press release regarding remote or hybrid work has turned into a viral news story. AirBnB’s change to go fully remote in 2022 had this impact as well. The press release was shared across social media platforms and news outlets, with the company reporting that their careers page was viewed 800,000 times after they shared the news.

Read: Press releases: How to issue standout stories (with template)

Community building: Bringing people together over a topic that aligns with your brand. The topic could be directly related (i.e., technology regulations for tech companies) or unrelated to your brand but important to your customers.

  • Example: Glossier is a beauty company that has put their community at the forefront as they built their brand. Whenever you comment on their posts, post about their products, or reply to a Glossier email, you get a response. They’re always tuned into what their customers are saying about them. Because of their constant engagement and interaction with customers, they’ve turned them from people who buy their products into raving fans.
It’s time for your brand to speak up

At the end of the day, you know why your company is the perfect fit for your customers. Communicating that to them is a crucial part of building your business. When done well, your brand messaging will help you to get your company’s values and benefits across and encourage your customers to keep the conversation going.

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