In this blog:
What is brand messaging?
Why is brand messaging important?
Brand Messaging Framework
There are approximately 334 million companies in the world. With a number like that, you need a way to carve out a distinct space in both your industry and your customers’ minds. That’s where brand messaging comes in. A brand message establishes who you are and articulates how you communicate with your audience, giving your brand an avenue to make an impact.
A company without a solid brand messaging strategy won’t have a solid foundation to stand on. To help get you on your feet, we’re taking a look at what brand messaging is, why it’s important, and how you can build your own brand messaging framework.
Brand messaging is how your brand communicates its personality, value, and competitive differentiators to your target audience across every touchpoint. From mission and vision statements to a checklist of talking points, it aims to inform all verbal and written communication to ensure your brand effectively and meaningfully connects with the people you want to reach.
A brand message is part of brand positioning, the overarching strategy that outlines your business’s personality and the way you want people to view your brand. A handful of other details fall under brand messaging’s umbrella: product definition, value proposition, brand pillars and characteristics, and tone of voice. These elements come together to create an all-encompassing brand messaging strategy that shapes your company’s behavior, decisions, and experiences.
Since it defines your brand’s character and modes of communication, a brand message can influence how people perceive your business. It also guides the way your brand speaks, helping you find the right words that engage and encourage your target audience to buy your products or services. For brand messaging to be successful, it needs to weave a cohesive yet dynamic story that helps form lasting relationships and differentiates you from the competition. It’s crucial to make sure your brand message is consistent across every interaction, including seemingly low-lift areas like product descriptions or buttons. Any misaligned piece of communication can cause confusion and even sow distrust within your audience.
We’re often asked what a brand messaging strategy entails and while Big Human has a tried and true process, we always tailor our approach to meet our clients’ needs and goals — and fit their personalities. Our workflow blends function and ambition, balancing brand messaging’s practicality with our clients’ hopes for the future. Tackling our projects through this paradigm guarantees our clients walk away with an expertly crafted and fully realized brand message that will guide them for years to come.
Here are the steps Big Human takes to build a brand messaging framework:
1. Conduct brand, audience, and competitive audits
If there’s one common — but important — denominator throughout all of our projects, it's comprehensive research. Research greases the wheels, giving your entire brand messaging strategy a strong but flexible foundation. Brand, audience, and competitive analyses pinpoint your strengths, weaknesses, and any opportunities in the market where you can give yourself a competitive edge. When you undergo these audits, you gain strategic insights that elevate and enrich your brand identity.
2. Develop your target audience and user personas
Your customers drive your company’s success; they’re the decision-makers that determine whether or not you have value. If you don’t have a thorough understanding of your target audience, then you won’t know how to connect with them. After you identify who your audience is, you should be able to flesh out more detailed user personas. These convey your customers’ needs, their unique buyer’s journey, and how you can engage with them at every touchpoint. User personas also help craft content that’s relevant to your audience, bringing in a real human element that frames compelling stories and adds nuance to your overarching brand message.
3. Establish your product category, value proposition, and brand positioning statements
Your product category, value proposition, and brand positioning statements provide direct guidance on what your company is, what it does, and the products and services it offers. A brand’s product category is a one-line definition of your business, which can be both customer- and company-facing.
A brand positioning statement is a description of your target consumer, your products and services, and the distinguishable value they deliver. It also includes strategies that specify and highlight your brand’s competitive advantage. Though a brand positioning statement is designed to be used internally, it can be versatile enough to be used externally, too.
4. Define your brand’s mission, vision, and values
Mission and vision statements are your brand’s North Star, the light that guides business decisions and behavior. A mission statement encapsulates why a company exists; as an action-oriented declaration, it grounds your brand in the present and clearly articulates its purpose. A vision statement embodies how a brand sees itself further down the line; focusing on a broader target, it’s a motivational affirmation that steers future courses of action.
Just like people, brands need to have a code of ethics they can abide by. As a list of three to five principles, brand values are what a business believes in. A brand shares its values internally as cultural touchstones and then externally demonstrates them through its behavior, giving your your brand a personality that sets itself apart from the competition. Brand values are allowed to be more aspirational, and they usually take the form of nouns.
5. Determine your brand pillars and character
Brand pillars portray the characteristics your brand should exude, shaping how you’d like to be perceived by your audience. As a collection of adjectives that signify the basic nature of your brand, these descriptors inform both your brand’s visual direction and tone of voice. A simple brainstorming workshop can help you narrow down a shortlist of potential pillars to incorporate into your brand messaging. These also influence your brand character, a short summary of how your business manifests its pillars and values in both communication and design.
6. Outline your tone of voice descriptors
At this point, you may be thinking your brand is padded with adjectives, but we promise they all come together to narrate a united brand message. A company’s tone of voice provides guidelines for how it represents its unique perspectives and interacts with its customers in all verbal and written communication. In other words, tone of voice is how your brand speaks. Your descriptors should infuse a bit of healthy tension into your brand voice, so it doesn’t come off as one-note or flat. A good brand voice sits on a spectrum of variety and depth, pulling from two (or more) seemingly divergent traits to cultivate a multifaceted communication style.
7. Craft elevator pitches and boilerplates
Once your tone of voice is squared away, it’s time to craft internal and external pieces of communication, which ensures your team understands your brand’s main talking points and how to deliver them. While an elevator pitch is a quick digest of what your business does and how your services solve customers’ problems, a boilerplate is an extended version that highlights key information about your business (like your history and notable clients) and where people can learn more about you. You should be able to deliver your elevator pitch in 60 seconds or less, and your boilerplate should be around 100 words or less; boilerplates are usually tacked on to the end of press releases.
Looking to refine your brand messaging strategy? Send us a message.