Brand messaging is your verbal brand
Your brand is both visual and verbal. Once design has established the look and style, it’s the message that will clarify your positioning and articulate your value to your target audiences.
Whether building a brand from the beginning, or refreshing an existing brand, choose the words that will resonate with your audiences, from their point of view. Instead of just speaking to what you do and what you have to offer, shift your brand message to converse with your audiences, to invite them to learn more, to give them the outcomes and results they can expect.
Then find the expectations and desires that draw people in, that are the “wow!” … whatever you do or offer that’s over and beyond what’s expected, that causes delight and appreciation. Those are the ideas to layer into your messaging hierarchy.
It’s more than the brand promise
When we develop brand messaging, the brand promise (some people call it a tagline) is at the top of the hierarchy. Think of it as a promise to the customer and not a shorthand description of what you do (that’s why we call it a brand promise, instead). Although the brand promise is what’s heard the most and is the statement that accompanies the company name and logo, often in a design lockup, good messaging extends beyond the promise.
Brand messaging hierarchy
Think of brand messaging as a series of key ideas that lead the right people into more levels of information, each level expanding on the previous, adding more detail on each point presented.
The positioning statement supplements the brand promise, adding details that support the brief promise and integrating new ideas to separate your organization from others.
The positioning statement is the single concept or impression that should come to mind when someone thinks of your organization—the thing that distinguishes you from competitors. The positioning concept will influence all aspects of your messaging and guide the look and feel of the brand design.
This is not the place to give a lot of detail. It’s about context, the why, the results and outcomes someone can expect from working with you or buying from you. Don’t describe how you do things or what you offer. Focus instead on the reason your audiences want to work with you, buy from you or join your organization.
Your value proposition is next. A great value proposition describes the experience your customers can expect and the benefit they can expect as a result. It’s how you live, deliver and steer your brand.
Frame what you do, what you have or what you offer not as a description of services and products, but as the result your target audiences receive. Avoid meaningless default words like quality, service or solutions. Describe the experience in language that paints a picture and invites a response. As you develop your brand messaging, keep questioning the words you choose with “what does that really mean to my audience?”
The value description expands on the value proposition. It narrows the focus to your target audiences and defines what they can expect, from their point of view. Use the value description to provide more detail about who your customer is–which could be job title, demographics or the reason they need what you offer.
Remember, each builds on previous statements. You’re not saying the same thing three different ways. You’re leading a reader through from introduction to a final “we offer what you’re looking for.”
The last piece to your brand messaging is the three key messages, each supported by three proof points. These three ideas are the three things you want people to remember, the three things they need to know to choose you. They are likely ideas presented in the positioning statement or value description. But here you reinforce those three ideas with more specific details.
Why do you need brand messaging?
The content and copy you craft into this messaging is the foundation for all your communications. Each idea can become a headline on a website, or a section in a brochure. Wording is carefully chosen to be specific, not vague. To articulate benefits, not features. And to connect to the audiences you are targeting, in their words, from their perspective.
Why is this more important than the logo? The logo may attract attention, but it’s the messaging that will connect with your audiences and drive response. Click through, enroll, refer, ask for information, call, recommend, join or buy–which response are you looking for?
Design your brand messaging to lead your audiences to respond. Give them the why, the result, the outcome, the reason to choose you and not your competitor. Your logo can’t do that. But strong brand messaging will.
Read more about messaging and see examples on our website.