One of the biggest challenges that startup owners face is the inability to share their brand vision with the world.
Often founders have a vision that they've developed for years, yet aren't able to SHARE with their customers, employees, or even partners.
A brand vision and proper brand messaging helps do that.
Brand messaging, in simple terms, arranges and couples the underlying ideas of a brand and helps the company convey those ideas in a manner that would excite the employees, resonate with the audience and explain the broader inspiration behind the product, company and services.
Now, if you are in a situation where you need to develop your brand vision, I'm here to show you how to do it.
I've structured the article guide in a way to HELP both stakeholders and employees understand the importance and know HOW to build brand messaging.
But even if you want to take on the task yourself or just want to know WHY it's important to create a brand that resonates, this article is here to help you out.
Now, without further ado, let's get down to business.
Brand messaging or brand message is the statement, term or phrase that helps define, explain or capture the vision of your brand.
It conveys the foundational values of your company and often helps out with the broader marketing strategy.
The brand message is usually developed by a brand messaging strategist. Sometimes, if there's a prominent copywriter in the team, they might be given the task. However, the brand director should help explain the vision, foresee the process and decide on the result.
The benefits of a Brand Message that Resonates are numerous, but they mostly come down to the ability to share your vision with the customer.
It allows you to have coherent inbound marketing throughout all of your different channels and ensure that your customers will become familiar with your brand, the brand's values and the brand's mission.
The message that your business wants to sent out to the world is usually part of the broader brand Identity.
The IDENTITY refers to everything that makes up your brand.
Usually, you'll find quite a few brands that have AWESOME visual style, colors and fonts across the board, but don't have consistency in their values, voice or message.
This often boils down to the creative direction related to the brand, but might also be part of broader issues within a company.
Now, a lot of the time, in search of perfection, business owners and founders might get stressed out due to the importance of all these seemingly little or insignificant items.
But I am here to tell you that you SHOULDN'T overthink it.
Write it down. Set it in place. And just make sure that people follow through.
That's the basic responsibility that you have.
The inspiration, creative work or thorough overthinking should be left to the designated experts building out the marketing campaigns.
The vision and decision on the style and messaging of your brand is completely yours.
The idea of the separation of internal and external branding is rather new, but it's also a relatively simple one.
At its core the separation works on the fact that internal brand messaging is meant to excite and inspire your employees, partners and maybe even yourself, while external messaging is meant to excite and inspire the customers.
Now, it's obvious that two different audiences will require two different messages, but at the same time it can create an unwanted divide.
The decision of whether this would be beneficial for your business or not would be based completely on your own take.
Another up and coming trend in brand messaging is the cohesion between personal branding and business representation.
Today, most business owners, CEOs and other C-Suite employees are becoming public figures for a company's brand and are often tunred into brand ambassadors.
This creates a thin line between the business and the personal branding of the expert.
For example, if you are a higher-level employee at Coca-Cola, it's expected that you are sharing the values of the brand.
You are perceived as a person that values inspiration of emotion.
At the same time, if you boast specific values and your name is tied to a company, it can reflect directly on the brand of that company.
I can't stress enough HOW true this is for founders.
Look no further for an example than Elon Musk and how his daily actions have a DIRECT impact on the stock values of his companies.
However, I know that you are here for a brand messaging guide and I'm here to give you one.
So let's check out how to craft a brand message that truly captures the attention of your customer base.
Considering the nature of branding, there are multiple creative ways in which companies tackle the opportunity of having a brand strategy.
For some, a simple golden circle works best.
Others, create 50-page documents with charts that you have to STUDY thoroughly to understand.
Now, regardless of your case, the idea is that you need to understand your BRAND prior to crafting your brand message.
The message is there to connect what you are trying to say with what the customer is interested in learning about your brand.
To be able able to craft a message that resonates, you need to develop your core brand pillar and differentiating factor.
The core pillar of your brand is the ONE thing that sets you apart from your competitors.
It should be a simple statement at the center of your brand strategy that helps define who you are and HOW you are different from your competitors.
An example of a great brand strategy is this one, created by the University of Northern Arizona marketing team.
In it, the team has used the key of "Opportunity in Every Direction" to solidfy the core of what their brand is about.
This is the core KEY of your brand.
It should be the one statement for your business that successfully fits within the three questions above.
Your brand key consists of the STRENGTH, DIFFERENTIATION and PROMISE to the customer.
To craft the key of your brand messaging you need to establish a statement that checks all of the boxes above.
Let's check a few promise (brand messaging) examples.
What is the brand promise?
How does it translate to the key questions of the brand?
What is the brand promise?
Where dreams come true.
How does it translate to the key questions of the brand?
What is the brand promise?
"To refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit, and inspire moments of optimism; to create value and make a difference."
How does it translate to the key questions of the brand?
Now, the next thing to understand to be able to craft a brand message is understanding the definition of resonate within the context of a brand.
In the general sense, for a brand message to resonate it means that the message evokes a feeling of shared emotions, beliefs, goals and vision.
You should consider the values, struggles, beliefs and emotions of your customer base.
Once you have the answers to those questions, you will be one step closer to crafting a message that truly resonates with your customers.
Once you have defined your brand promise and understand your customers better it's time to think about the core message of your brand.
It should be the underlying foundation that conveys your core brand values to the customer.
Having such a message will allow you to capture the essence of how your brand comes across to your customers.
Why you need one?
As campaigns often have different statements, marketers can often stray away from the core promise to create a message that's more engaging.
Thus it's best to have a message, sometimes referred to as a core key message, to avoid having your brand stretched to values that you might not necessarily represent.
The core message is one of the key brand foundations that you need to think about to achieve consistency with your brand.
And it's rather simple.
To create your brand message you simply need to answer this one question.
You have your promise, but what is the narrative of that promise?
The answer of the question can be different depending on the purpose with which the messaging is being used.
That's why you would often see brand message frameworks that define the messaging based on specific use cases for that message.
Ultimately, your brand message is the narrative with which you explain your brand promise.
Usually, you will have one KEY message that explains the promise further, followed by the different types of supporting narratives related to the message you want to send out.
Then, based on the narrative you can build a brand message framework.
Once you know and understand your brand promise and have your core brand message, it's time to put together your brand messaging framework.
A brand messaging framework is a collection of key messages that define your brand and the structure in which those messages are communicated to your customers, employees and partners.
These frameworks are different for each and every business and ultimately have to be created in a manner that is most useful to the core marketing operations of the business or places where the brand is often used.
To help you out in the process, I decided to quickly share with you these quick and easy brand message formulas to help you craft your own.
One of the most common ways in which people define their brand messaging is through audience segments.
This framework helps you create brand segmented messaging that is still centered around a core idea.
Perfect for business with multiple different audience segments and buyer's personas, it expands upon your core promise to deliver a specific message to each core audience segment.
To fill it out, you simply put the "Brand Promise" in the center of your framework and start explaining the manner in which it relates to your key audience groups and segments.
Let's say you have a spreadsheet alternative with four key audience segments with a core message that it saves time.
If you have 4 segments, one being marketers, the other project managers, the third college students and the fourth being data experts, you can easily build a framework around your key promise.
Now while the example is not perfect, it works best to showcase both the positives and the downsides of this messaging framework.
One one hand, you are creating four separate narratives under one cohesive message to address your key audience segmets.
On the other, the narratives can diverge and differ from one another, resulting in a less specific brand as a whole.
Another infamous way to build our your brand messaging is through the simple golden circle framework.
Made infamous by Simon Sinek and his TED talk on identifying the purpose of your business, it's a great place to start.
It's as simple as answering three core questions.
Crafting your brand messaging on top of a golden circle framework means to expand on your brand promise to fit the three questions above.
The golden circle represent the three fundamenal positioning themes of your brand.
And if your marketing communications are effective, you'll be able to build out a true foundation of your brand messaging with core messages that are built on the golden circle brand framework.
It's simple, quick and easy to do.
Another popular framework for creating brand messaging is the brand pillars one.
It basically takes the three key important pillars of your brand and adds supporting messages for each pillar.
In this framework, the brand promise is on top, followed by your key brand message and the brand pillars.
This is a relatively generic framework that fits with almost any type of brand. It gives you certain flexibility and solidifies the messaging as part of the distinct pillars of your business.
With this formula, the benefits are obvious.
A tree-like structure, it allows you to coherently build upon your brand promise and deliver narratives that support it across multiple columns of choice.
The downsides reside within the difficulty of evaluation and centering around the key brand promise when it comes to specific campaigns and marketing messages.
Ultimately, it's up to you and your specific business case and the use of the framework.
Some businesses prefer to create multiple frameworks for the specific use.
Most do a combination of a few frameworks that build out to a more cohesive, yet somewhat complicated brand messaging framework.
Make sure that the messaging you create is simply able to convey the ideas of your business to marketers and your customers.
Now, there are also a few questions related to brand messaging that I want to tackle before we go through a few more topics. Let's go through them and check them out.
What is a brand messaging platform?
A brand messaging platform is another way of saying a brand messaging framework.
It serves the purpose of helping you share the value your business provides to your customers in simple and cohesive messages.
What is a Competitive Analysis for a Brand Messaging Strategy?
This is an analysis of your brand messaging that takes into account your competitive positioning.
It helps answer the question of whether your messaging is unique enough to stand out from your competitors or whether you are missing the mark with your framework.
What are Brand Identity Guidelines?
This is a document that outlines your voice, style and message guidelines.
It helps marketers, service providers and third-parties be able to align with your brand better.
Why is Brand Messaging so Important?
It helps you deliver a consistent narrative that establishes a deeper connection with your customer.
People are creatures driven by habits.
Imagine if you are walking down a gallery corridor with pictures.
The first time you go through you see a logo of a fictitious brand, let's call it " Pepper"
The brand is alongside the following messages.
Now imagine that on your second run, you see the same log, but with the following messaging
Which of the two would you consider to be more reliable?
Chances are, even though the second time the word RELIABLE wasn't mentioned, and the first time it WAS mentioned,you will pick the second one.
This is the power of consistent and coherent messaging for your brand and business.
What happens if your Brand Communication efforts are effective?
Well, according to Lucidpress, this can lead to an average increase in your revenue with about 23 percent.
This doesn't take into account the amazing long-term benefits of establishing a proper brand for your business that were mentioned throughout this piece.
Is a tagline part of your messaging?
Yes and no.
The tagline can be a part of your messaging guidelines, but it's a standalone feature of your brand.
Nevertheless, a brand tagline should always be derived from a good brand framework.
What is brand story?
Brand story is just that. The story of your brand.
It explains why the brand was created, what it represents and why it represents it.
Brand story CAN'T replace a proper messaging framework and the messaging is NOT your brand story.
The two shouldn't be confused.
Is brand messaging used for marketing campaigns?
Yes, but that's not the only use.
As explained throughout the piece, there are multiple scenarios in which you might need to check out your brand messaging.
PR is a great example of this.
How to weave in brand messaging on a press trip?
Speaking of PR, here's a few tips on weaving in your brand messaging while you are on a press trip, conference or something of the same caliber.
Try and constantly be vigilant of your brand, what it represents and how you can talk more about your brand and values when you have the chance.
Ultimately, it's all about ensuring that the right messages are conveyed to the customers of your business.
In our fast-paced world, it's easy to think that EVERYTHING is moving at the speed of light and that you just aren't able to keep up with the latest trends.
In fact, part of the reason why I put our latest growth hacks on our blog is to help you stay up to date.
However, when it comes to foundational tactics, including brand messaging, things aren't necessarily changing a lot.
Most of the changes happen due to movements in the industry or the general change of what customers consider to be valuable in a business or a brand.
It probably isn't the first time you are hearing this, but marketing today is moving towards authentic messaging.
In fact, for the past several years, due to the rise of social media platforms, it has been prevalent and mainstream information that brands that aren't willing to stand behind a coherent, consistent and authentic messaging are at risk of losing customers.
You should always aim to represent the truest sense of your brand and company with your brand.
Another important trend in branding is the rise of brand image messaging.
While a brand identity usally covers the brand style and businesses might already have brand designs set in place, the image messaging tries to achieve the same goals as brand messaging, just in a visual form.
It can be argued that as long as you have your messaging set in place that the designers responsible for your marketing should achieve the visual consistency to be in line with your core messages.
However, due to the use of quick impromptu designs being used all throughout the digital marketing efforts of your brand, it's relatively difficult to stay on track ALL throughout.
That's why some businesses choose to implement brand image messaging style guides, where the use of certain elements, type of images evoking a certain emotion or even style of icons and subsets of color palettes are used to create outlines for different images that are meant to invoke a certain stimuli response in the customer.
The trend has been previously prevalent in the press, where photographs of people and celebrities can be used in a manner that conveys a certain characteristic of that celebrity to enhance the story.
However, whether brand image messaging is a powerful tactic or just a heavily time-consuming tactic is still undecided in marketing circles.
Last, but not least, the cost of brand messaging is getting lower by the day.
New digital agencies are popping up every day and the saturation of the market often leads to a lower cost of the service.
In addition, the rise of the gig economy and the access to a worldwide pool of talent might help you get a premium level brand messaging framework on much more affordable rates than what you would usually pay.
However, you should always keep in mind that cheaper almost always means worse in some aspects.
So make sure that you value your options prior to making a decision.
And if you want to know the brand messaging business, make sure to SIGN UP to my newsletter as I have a whole new book in the works about how to build a successful $1,000,000 agency in less than a year. [I already did that and I'm here to show you how]
I often hear people that a brand ambassador is a person who works on the brand messaging.
However, the person that does the heavy lifting is more often than not, the brand director.
Now, chances are you ALREADY have a brand director in your company.
And you are probably already similar to their responsibilities, but here's where they need to take charge.
IF you have a BRAND DIRECTOR or BRAND AMBASSADOR, send them this article.
So, no, you don't necessarily need to hire service providers or contractors to help you craft your message.
More often than not, you need to be the one that lays the foundations, alongside with your current employees.
For well-known brands it's simple. It allows them to influence a well-recognized perception between the brand name and your emotional state.
However, a lot of small startups can't find the value of having a brand mission statement.
This is primarily because they can't relate their message to their core marketing materials.
Here's how it usually happens...
An owner of a startup hires a marketing company, which builds out an amazing set of guidelines for the brand of that owner.
The startup has a brand message that resonates with the customer.
To stay in sync with the latest digital marketing trends, the startup often hires a bunch of different agencies and contractors that care about THE SALES and THEIR own VISION.
Thus, the new contractors present the business owner with a new campaign, a new message, that most of the time only incorporates the brand colors and fonts.
The business owner then often proceed to accept the new ideas, without thinking about the branding too much.
That's the problem.
YOU as a business owner learn a lot throughout the course of building your startup.
YOU have developed and the vision of your product might have changed.
But your BRAND MESSAGE shouldn't fall in the cracks.
Yes, think about your NEXT brand message, but make sure the first one is integrated first.
And make sure that your key messages are all centered around a common topic.
Your brand key should be ONE.
And while you ALWAYS need to consider sales and resources, you also need to stay in line with your branding.
You need to UNDERSTAND your branding and be in sync with it.
You need to convey the message in your brand communications.
Now, I hope this guide has helped you better understand the value of having a brand message.
But don't forget that this message always needs to be conveyed in your brand communications.
To do so, just make sure to EITHER have a point person (brand director) that is responsible for that or if you can, do it yourself.
But make sure that YOU yourself RESONATE with that message.
This is the key to your startup success.