Brand messaging is an obvious need for any organization that wants to stay current and authentic in front of their audience. But it goes much further than plopping a mission statement at the top of your “About Us” page. Brand messaging should come from a place of research that generates an understanding of customer needs, business goals, and company culture. It should be refined until it provides the perfect basis for developing brand communications that are concise, consistent, and believable—a compass that keeps your brand’s journey on track.
Let’s talk about how to get there.
Building Your Message
As stated, your brand messaging should be based on a number of factors. You’re essentially putting your brand into words. The right kind of research should get you there: internal discussions with key people, focus groups and surveys of employees, a look back at company history, and a look forward to where you want to be in the future.
When it comes to the challenge of boiling down your findings into simple statements, it helps to consider these questions:
- What product or service do you provide?
- How are you doing it better than your competitors?
- How does this benefit your customer?
- How does it translate to benefiting society at large?
- Why are the above things important to you as a brand?
With these concepts in mind, you can produce the language that will become your messaging (positioning statement, brand pillars, core values, etc.). Arguably the most important is a one-sentence statement that embodies your brand and its purpose. This is your brand’s mission statement, which is the root from which all else grows. Its most important function is to act as an internal mantra that keeps everyone on the same page. It helps focus people, allowing them to be effective ambassadors for the brand. From this statement, other targeted messaging elements can be produced.
Translating Your Message
As the thought process behind everything that goes out your door, the best use for brand messaging is often as an internal reference point, but the essence of it should always come through in your communications. For instance, some research shows that missions statements tend to be less interesting to the average person who doesn’t eat, sleep, and breathe your brand the way you do. In many cases, it can be expedient to take the elements of the messaging and turn it into something that is more audience-friendly.
For instance, if you were producing an ad, what might some headline options sound like? What would the body copy say? What would the call to action be? Take the straightforward, informational nature of the mission statement and see how applying some creativity and brand individuality can turn your communications into something people will want to engage with. Be authentic. Get clever, if your brand allows for it. And, as always in today’s day and age, keep it short and sweet.
Tailoring Your Message
True, your core messaging should be steadfast and provide a solid foundation for your communications. But, when it comes to audiences, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. (At least, not one that actually works.) You need to be able to address the needs and interests of the different subsets of your audience—especially so for product marketing.
At FG, we use what we call a “messaging matrix,” which is a handy document that breaks down how the core messaging applies directly to each audience. How do we differentiate them from each other? The underlying concepts always remain the same, but for Audience A, we might focus more on a certain set of benefits that are different from those we would tout when speaking to Audience B. It’s about targeting the language while always keeping a foot on home base—that laser-focused mission statement. When you couple this with targeted ad placements, that’s how you really get a bang for your buck.
Official messaging is a must-have for brands. It gives you the ability to capture what your brand does and why that’s important to your audience and society. It provides a springboard from which external brand communications can be produced. It helps you to be as targeted as possible when speaking to different subsets of your audience. And, while your audience may never see it directly, they will feel it in every ad, video, and social post you put out there.