Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Messaging hierarchy leads audiences through your content: 7

Brand Responsibly Manifesto: 7

The goal of a strong brand is quick recognition and concise messages to motivate your target audiences. With established messaging, organized in a clear messaging hierarchy to support a strong identity design, the verbal and visual brand are defined.

When communicating your brand message use simple, clear language.

Positioning is expressed through messaging

Positioning is holding a place in the mind of your prospect. Defining what you stand for. What audiences can count on. It summarizes what makes your product or service better, different, special, unique.

With a foundation of clear positioning expressed in a messaging hierarchy, a brand program will have long-term impact. Positioning unifies internal and external messages and guides the visual design system.

Positioning is the foundation to your visual and verbal brand. Without it, your marketing strategy may flounder and you’ll try to be all things to all people, diluting your effectiveness and wasting your marketing budget.

Use our worksheet with your team to explore and define your positioning.


Tell the story so audiences understand

People want stories. They want pictures in their mind. They want to understand why. They want to know enough to share. They want to understand how your products or services are better than other choices. And they want to know “what’s in it for me?”

What problems do you solve? What outcomes can they expect? What result are they looking for? What’s the experience of working with you?

Messaging defines what matters to your audiences, what sets you apart.

A messaging hierarchy summarizes essential components–the brand promise, positioning statement, value proposition and value description.

Choose three key messages, the essential ideas that separate you from others. Provide supporting details as proof points.

Develop messaging from your audiences’ point of view

What matters to them? What words resonate? Avoid standard descriptions such as “quality” or “great service.” Dig deeper to create ideas that stand out, that represent what the brand stands for. Craft the words that are memorable, not average. Expressive, not bland. Specific, not general.

Messaging isn’t listing the products or services or describing how the products work. A messaging hierarchy describes specific benefits or outcomes to respond to the question all audiences ask, “what’s in it for me?”

An article titled “2 Simple Keys to Define Your Brand” in Inc. magazine stated: “Rule No. 1: It’s better to be clear than to be clever.” We couldn’t agree more. Direct, straightforward, simple, clear.

Messaging hierarchy is the foundation for the verbal brand

A hierarchy of messages summarizes your unique position and story. At the top level, the brand promise is your tagline. It’s a promise to your audiences, not a description of what you do.

The positioning statement is your elevator speech, expanding on that brand promise with more details.

Messaging is the blueprint and foundation for all communications, from website to collateral to advertising and social media. The messages crafted in a messaging hierarchy guide content for all communications.

Dig deeper into the concept of messaging, follow some exercises to “find your wow!” and learn more about what’s included in a complete messaging hierarchy in our guide.


When messaging defines the brand story, you’ll have built a brand that’s focused and easier to manage. Communications are clear. Each message builds on the foundation. You’ll be branding responsibly.

We offer eighteen proclamations in our Brand Responsibly Manifesto.

Messaging is essential to an optimized brand

An optimized brand is focused carefully on the target audience that will deliver success. Messaging is the verbal brand. But it doesn’t stand alone. It must work as part of an optimized brand to generate the biggest impact.

Read more about messaging, its context and its value, in this Flipboard compilation of articles. Good stuff!
View my Flipboard Magazine.

Discover more about how we approach messaging hierarchy for clients, and see sample charts on our website.

Define your audiences first, before you begin messaging … download our worksheet and use its guidelines to clarify who you need to reach and what they expect.


About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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