Everything you need to know about brand messaging
Why is brand messaging important?
Whether you are launching a company, a nonprofit, a product or a service, creating brand messaging (also known as marketing message) that communicates the value of what you are offering relative to competitors is one of the most important tasks your leadership team will take on.
Why? If people don’t understand what you do, why it is unique and, why it is important to them, they will not engage with you. They won’t buy, donate, partner, fund or anything else you want them to do. Your brand message is an opportunity to tell your customers the story about the value you deliver. It is your vehicle for explaining how what you are delivering is different from your competitors.
What is a messaging framework?
A messaging framework is a structured representation of the value promises your organization, product or service is making to its audience. It is less about who you are and what you do and more about why you are doing it. It should always be audience-specific and should start from the perspective of the problems you are solving for that audience.
At its core, your brand messaging framework allows you to answer the question why? Why should your audience care about your offering? What transformation are you enabling for them? It also allows you to explain briefly how you are delivering value and what tangible results your audience can expect. It allows you to shift the focus from the features you are delivering to the positive impact you deliver for your audience. Finally, it also allows you to differentiate from your competitors.
There is no single definitive version of a brand messaging template that every marketer uses. Instead, different practitioners have created their own messaging framework template that supports their own philosophy and process for creating their marketing message.
DID YOU KNOW:
86 percent of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla, 2019).
81 percent of consumers said that they need to be able to trust the brand in order to buy from them (Edelman, 2019).
It takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for people to form an opinion about your website (8ways, 2019).
Consistent presentation of a brand has seen to increase revenue by 33 percent (Lucidpress,2019).
86% of consumers prefer an authentic and honest brand personality on social networks. (HubSpot)
Why create a brand messaging framework?
There many reasons to develop a messaging framework to craft your marketing message. A well thought out marketing message that has been socialized within your organization ensures that everyone is in effect “singing off the same hymn sheet” when asked the question: What does your company do?
One client provided a great example: “If you ask each of the 16 people who work in this group what we do, each one will give a different response.” The impact, internally and externally, can be quite significant as customers receive different messages and employees are not really sure what they are working on and why.
And when your organization is purpose-driven, it is even more critical to ensure that everyone understands and is inspired by your marketing message. A study by Bain and Company partners Eric Garton and Michael Mankins, reveals that productivity among satisfied employees is 100%, while engaged employees hit 144%, and inspired employees deliver 225% productivity.
Another reason for creating a formalized messaging framework is that it acts as a foundation for creating downstream content – everything from customer presentations, web copy, email templates, press release boiler plates and more. Not only does a marketing messaging framework allow you to spin up content quickly, but it ensures that all content consistently communicates the value that your offering delivers.
Understanding the audience for your marketing message
Creating a marketing message should always start with an understanding of your audience. Most organizations – for profit and nonprofit – have multiple audiences. Start by creating a list of all the different audiences you want to reach. It’s not practical to create 20 different messaging frameworks so make sure that all of these audiences are mutually exclusive relative to the value that your organization delivers. Do they have different problems? Do they use your product or service in different ways? Do you need to use different language when talking to them? Often, the distinctions are clear: the value you deliver to your customers is different to the value you deliver to potential business partners. For nonprofits, the value you deliver to the people who benefit from your organization’s work is different to the value you deliver to donors.
Once you have developed a prioritized list of audiences, it is extremely helpful to develop a persona for each one. A persona is nothing more than the personification of a general audience. You are creating a character who best represents the audience. Give the character a name, find a photograph of them. Decide their demographics: age, gender, job, location etc. Then outline the problems the persona is having that your organization solves. Describe what is important to them in the decision-making process. If relevant, provide a list of ways this persona can be reached: magazines, blogs, special interest sites online etc. There are many great examples of highly targeted persona’s online if you get stuck.
Format your persona using PowerPoint or InDesign and print out the result in a large format and display it where everyone working on your messaging and