If someone were to blindfold you and ask to name the brands just by their description, how many could you name? We bet all of us can name these brands if we get these words:
- Golden Arches – McDonald’s
- A bite out of an apple – Apple
- The letter “f” in lowercase – Facebook
- A small blue bird – Twitter
Why do you think that is the case? It’s not just visuals. You see hundreds of visuals daily but retain little. A study says that there will be 5-7 brand interactions before a consumer remembers a brand.
Brand recognition or brand recall goes way beyond visuals – it’s how your brand makes your audience feel consistently over a period. Every piece of collateral you have – from website designs and product packaging to social media channels – should have a similar tone, colour scheme, aesthetic and communicate a similar message that fits your brand identity and core values.
So, how can you do this for your brand, and more importantly, do it consistently across your team? The answer: a brand messaging guide.
What is brand messaging?
It’s the one thing that ties together every piece of content or experience you create. It’s nothing but your brand’s value proposition, which you convey to the target audience through your brand personality to set your brand positioning.
Simply put, your brand message is the message that you communicate to your target audience through your products. It can be verbal or non-verbal that describe what you do and how you’re different from others. The brand messaging document hence serves as the foundation for all your messaging.
But why is brand messaging important?
You might think, why to go through the whole charade of creating a brand messaging document when you might get the same thing from the documents you already work with, let’s say the buyer persona. You’ve researched your buyer thoroughly, laid out all the finer details, and already write all your marketing collaterals based on it.
Here’s why it’s important to create a brand messaging document.
Increase in team productivity: A brand messaging framework includes all the words and phrases you should be using while describing your products and services alongside your mission statement. Having access to all these in one document means lesser time spent back-and-forth for approvals, resulting in more productivity for your team.
Let’s say you are writing a new sales or landing page. Your writers can create the best copy based on other documents you have, let’s say the buyer persona doc. But without those key words and phrases, it wouldn’t have your brand’s voice and tone. If there’s no logo on the page, a person reading it won’t recognize that it’s your brand. With a brand messaging document, your writers can tell the story of your brand effectively, and get it right, the first time.
Improvement in brand consistency: Remember what we talked about the most important quality for brand recognition or recall – consistency. A brand messaging framework means your advertising, marketing, sales, and support teams are all on the same page. This also ensures you don’t waste time on campaigns that don’t reflect your brand image, or your teams don’t churn out messaging that’s weak, inconsistent, and confusing to potential customers.
Here’s a bonus to have consistent messaging across your brand. A Lucidpress report says cohesive branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%. That’s a huge reward you can achieve from a single document. Brand managers can use a simpler way to create consistent messaging with automation solutions.
Revenue boost: An indirect effect of having a brand messaging framework is a boost in revenues. An important aspect we forget about having an effective brand identity is the idea of core values. Today’s consumers – especially younger generations – want to know why you exist and what your business stands for.
Customers who form an emotional connect with a brand exhibits tremendous brand loyalty. A Motista report says emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value (LTV), stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years, and recommend brands at a much higher rate (71% vs. 45%). This will ultimately lead to a strong brand.
How to create a brand messaging document
Your brand promise is not a mission statement; rather, it’s a statement targeted toward the customer that conveys your vision and clearly state what you actually do. Beyond the professional logo, trademark, or tagline, your brand has an intangible aspect – an emotion, an impression, a personality. This is what your brand promise is. It tells the world your purpose while guiding the direction of your customer experience.
Your brand promise should describe the experience you deliver. It must include messaging through which consumers can hold you accountable to the standard that sets you apart. For instance, look at the promises of these brands:
- Coca Cola – “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
- BMW – “The Ultimate Driving Machine”
- Apple – “Think different.”
Strategic brand management rooted in a solid brand management process plays an essential role in business development. And your positioning statement should define where you fit into the marketplace. In essence, a positioning statement must describe a product or service and target market and how that product or service fills a particular need of the target market. You can think of it as an internal tool through which you can align your marketing efforts with your brand and value proposition.
Answering these questions will help you craft your ideal positioning statement – who is your target customer, what are you offering them, how do you offer it, why you do what you do, and how does this compare to what’s already out there. Look at Nike’s positioning statement:
“For athletes in need of high-quality, fashionable athletic wear, Nike provides customers with top-performing sports apparel and shoes made of the highest quality materials. Its products are the most advanced in the athletic apparel industry because of Nike’s commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies.”
When creating a brand messaging document, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. A part of it can also be found in your buyer persona document, but that is just a part of your overall product messaging. Your document must have a message that will resonate with your ideal buyer’s needs, wants, and pain points. For instance, are you a casual, playful brand? Or does your audience require a more serious approach?
Your mission statement needs to have a more visionary angle or a higher purpose if you will. It must state what do you hope to accomplish, your ultimate goal, or your core beliefs. This single sentence must convey an emotion or purpose that rallies your employees, users, and community. And when you use your brand’s mission statement at larger community and user conferences or other public platforms, it positions you as a positive player in a much larger industry or global narrative.
For instance, look at these brand statements:
- Tesla – “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
- TED – “Spread ideas.”
- LinkedIn – “To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”
Voice and Tone
The document must define the voice and tone of your brand. The brand voice plays a very important role in cutting through the noise and ensures that your message leaves a lasting impression on potential customers. It includes everything from the words and language you use to the personality and image you aim to invoke. For instance, are you a fun brand? Or does your audience consist of c-level execs and require a more serious tone?
And while your voice remains consistent, the tone may change according to the context of your messaging. Like for an ongoing sale, your social media post will be more light-hearted as compared to a company crisis or announcement. One aspect, however, is certain in all this. Developing a brand voice is not a one-time effort. It must be reviewed and refined periodically, so you don’t risk sounding out of touch.
Let’s get one thing straight. An elevator pitch is not an opportunity to close a deal; rather, it’s an opportunity to earn a second conversation. It’s more of a 30, 60, or 90 seconds description of what you do and what you sell to your audience? A simple way to write elevator pitches is to answer these questions – who are you, what does your company do, and what’s your value proposition. You must ask a question, empathize, pivot, and add value to write a perfect pitch that will get you that second conversation.
Once you define the brand messaging framework concept, you can go a bit granular by defining brand pillars – features or benefits of your product/service that differentiate you from your competitors or place you a level up above them. These would become your selling points. These can be any points that your customers feel are important – convenience, reliability, on-time delivery, innovation, etc.
Headline Benefit and Support Examples
Each brand pillar will accompany a key benefit statement or headline benefit with supporting examples. These pillars will serve as the focus points of your marketing content.
Is brand messaging only for customers?
When most brands think of marketing, they are more likely to think of marketing to their customers. But there is another market that’s just as important – employees. Your employees can help you form a powerful emotional connect to the products and services you sell. It’s critical then that you have a robust marketing strategy in place to market to this very important constituency.
You must clearly communicate the expectations you’ve promised to your customers. Without that connection, employees are likely to undermine the expectations set by your advertising. When employees believe in the brand and feel engaged, they will be motivated to work harder, resulting in increased loyalty. They will also be better positioned to provide value to potential customers because they believe in and understand the company’s goals and vision themselves. This is going to benefit your overall business hugely.
Once you are done with all the key elements described above, you’ll have a solid messaging framework in place as your guide. You must then make it a practice to frequently reference this brand messaging guide to ensure your go-to-market messages and content remain consistent. This way, your customers will be clear on who you are, what you do, and where you stand.
And once your brand gains reasonable traction and finds its position in the market, you can use this opportunity to launch new products or categories as part of your brand extension process.