Brand messaging 101: The ultimate guide

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshotAlicia Raeburn15 Juni 20228 menit baca
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Summary

Brand messaging is how you communicate about your business, both internally and externally. You want brand messaging to be consistent and unique, so you can showcase who you are as a business. Learn what brand messaging is, and get six steps to create your own brand messaging framework that elevates your marketing.

Communicating about your business is one thing, but communicating as your business is another. The latter is brand messaging, which is how your company speaks about itself. Consistent brand messaging can help you build a loyal community, inspire word-of-mouth-marketing, and create a unique brand identity for your business.

What is brand messaging?

Brand messaging is how your brand speaks. It’s streamlined communication about your business, informed by strategy to convey your unique value proposition (your brand promise) to your target audience. The purpose of coordinating your brand messaging is to ensure that you’re saying the right things at the right time, and that in doing so, you’re encouraging others to share about your business. Effective brand messaging influences PR and the way others feel about your business.

Your brand is the personality of your business, and the brand messaging is the way you communicate. For example, your brand personality can be seen as an expert, fun, sophisticated, honest, authentic, or friendly. In your brand strategy, identify how you want your brand to come across, and then speak to that. For example, if you want to be seen as the expert, your brand messaging framework should include technical writing and statistics. If you want your brand to be perceived as friendly and quirky, you probably want to dial back on the statistics and include jokes, puns, and even emojis in your messaging. 

Internal vs. external brand messaging

There are two different strategies to brand messaging: internal and external. Your internal brand messaging determines how individuals, teams, and executives communicate about your company to each other. External brand messaging dictates how you communicate to customers and the general public. Both types of messaging are important for brand positioning, but they shouldn’t be the same.

For example, you might use two different social media accounts, one for your employees and a public-facing one. The internal account can be information from your benefits team or an outside vendor, such as your office caterer. When you post on this internal account, your branding messaging will be more familiar and informative. These are very different from external social media accounts, where your brand messaging will be highly-curated and customized. Even if the goal of your brand is to sound familiar externally, it will always be a bit more reserved than when you communicate internally.

Why is a brand messaging framework important?

Your messaging communicates your brand story. This develops trust between your brand and your customers. But there are a number of intrinsic benefits to developing your core brand messaging, including:

  • Natural word-of-mouth marketing. Even in today’s digital age, word-of-mouth marketing is still the best way to get endorsements for your brand. No matter how much you portray your brand value, at the end of the day, people buy what their friends recommend. Brand messaging connects with customers in a deeper way, and shows them how to talk about your brand to others.

  • Consistent marketing materials. When you have an established core message, you know that your messaging, design, product, and content marketing will all speak to the same core values

  • Unique brand identity. In order for customers to engage with your brand, they need to know who you are as an organization. Brand messaging tells them, so they know exactly what to expect from your business.

  • Organized branding. When you write a creative brief, create your elevator pitch, or want to revamp your homepage, having an established brand messaging strategy informs the creator and helps them stay on brand. 

6 steps to create a successful brand messaging framework

The best brand messaging looks effortless. In reality, it’s anything but. Your brand messaging takes thought and work on the back end so it can appear flawless when presented to others. To effectively build out your brand messaging framework, follow these six steps.

1. Create a brand positioning statement

Your mission statement explains the purpose of your company, and your vision statement says where you’re going. Before you launch into any brand messaging, use either or both of these statements to define who you are as a company, what you stand for, and where you’re headed. Then use this to develop your brand positioning statement, the internal statement that describes what value you bring to your industry or target audience. The difference here is that your brand positioning statement is a brief but specific summary of your product or service and how it solves your customer’s problems, whereas your mission and vision statements are more generalized and purpose-focused.

Your brand positioning statement should list your company mission, how you’re achieving it, why it matters, who it’s for, and their pain points. For example, if you’re a financial technology company with a mission to revamp the way you process credit card payments, your position statement could be:

Our company was created to simplify payment processing for the next generation of small businesses. We’re disrupting the industry through innovative technology that reduces the processing time by three seconds so our customers can make more money, faster. We’re a growing startup, generating $12 million in revenue last quarter alone. Unlike other fintech startups, we’re focused on sustainable long-term growth, for our employees, investors, and the companies we serve.

2. Competitor analysis

Before you can start talking to your customers, it’s helpful to learn how they’re already being spoken to. In other words, what is your competitor’s brand messaging? Learning how your competitors market themselves will help you differentiate key messages if you’re competing for the same target customers. 

Let’s say your main competition is using a snarky, fun branding voice. That means there’s space for you to develop as the expert. Where they crack jokes, you can cite statistics. It’s important to remember that neither of these are necessarily right or wrong, so long as they speak to your audience. For example, don’t cite statistics if you’re advertising your toys directly to kids (although statistics might be helpful for the parents).

3. Develop a unique brand voice

Your brand voice is what speaks to your brand’s marketing messages. In today’s crowded marketplace, brands are often screaming to get attention. But while a click-bait piece of content might be effective in the short-term, it’s not a helpful way to convert and engage with potential customers for years to come. 

That’s why you need to develop a unique brand voice. Strong brand messaging speaks directly to your audience: what are their pain points and struggles… and how can you help? For example, some companies who sell direct to consumer (DTC) goods for women have started to be more inclusive in their campaigns. When they show ads with women of all different shapes, sizes, and ages, they’re using a relatable brand voice. Whereas if you use picture-perfect models, that could ostracize some potential customers.

4. Create a tone and style guide

Once you’ve developed your tone of voice, you need to share it with your team. Develop a tone and style guide to share internally with everyone who will be speaking about your brand. Usually, this is for marketing and advertising teams, but you can also develop them for customer-facing roles as well, such as your sales teams.

In doing so, you’re establishing branding benchmarks. These benchmarks define the norm at your company. It’s ok to break the rules once you get into a better groove, but you need to establish those rules first to properly measure and define your success. Keeping branding cohesive with a tone and style guide ensures that employees know exactly how to speak about your brand in the same, impactful way. At the same time, it lays the groundwork for metrics to analyze and report on your brand messaging.

5. Talk to your customers

Your customers aren’t just listening to your brand messaging, they’re part of the conversation. It’s well intentioned to want your customers to know all of the wonderful things about your brand, but if you spend your time listing off selling points about all the key differentiators that make your company great, you can alienate your customer base. At the end of the day, your customers want to feel like you hear them, and you can't hear them if your brand is constantly talking over them.

Instead, you want to engage your customers in a conversation. This is where community management comes into play. A social community manager acts as the liaison between an organization and its social media audience. If a customer tweets about how much they love your product, good customer engagement might look like your brand responding that you love them right back. Of course, how you respond will depend on your brand voice and tone, but the important thing is that you do respond and engage with your customers in a variety of formats.

6. Evaluate and change

Nothing lasts forever in the digital marketing world—your customers will eventually change, and your messaging should change with them. Rebranding is a normal part of any ongoing marketing strategy, all it means is that your initial brand messaging evolved. Rather, rebranding is acknowledging a change in the environment. 

For example, you might change your brand messaging if your ideal customer changes. Sometimes you build a product with a target audience in mind, but after growing and developing, you realize there is another customer base you can serve even better. Maybe you’re targeting executives now instead of individual contributors. When this happens, your brand messaging will need to change as well. 

Where to use brand messaging (with examples)

Once you’ve created your brand messaging, use it in all your marketing campaigns. This keeps messaging, and ultimately your brand, more memorable and consistent. Use your branding messaging for:

Slogans and taglines: Snippets of a few words, a sentence, or phrase that is meant to instantly connect with the reader.

  • Example: Nike championed their use of brand messaging early on with an inspiring voice. When you read Nike’s marketing, it feels like they’re coaching you. This is intentional and strategic, and is maybe best shown through their well-known tagline “Just do it.”

Social media listening: Engaging with audiences who share, post, or comment about your brand from your brand’s social media accounts.

  • Example: Taco Bell went from being just a fast food chain to having a wildly successful and viral social media presence. How? They tapped into a snarky, humorous voice and used it to engage their followers in conversations. The result is shareable and engaging content that renews their audience’s love for their brand.

Content marketing: Any creative content pushed out by your brand, including blog posts, newsletters, and thought leadership articles.

  • Example: Buffer is a social media management platform. Their podcast, The Science of Social Media, discusses topics and research related to marketing and communications. The approach positions their brand as an expert in their field, making it more likely that customers will trust and remember them.

Advertising: Advertising is when your company purchases the use of a specific space to showcase their brand. 

  • Example: Apple products might have some of the most recognizable TV commercials in advertising. Their iPhone commercials often show a person using their phone while going about their day in a happy, relatable way. There’s almost always a catchy song and sometimes, happy dancing, to go with it. From a customer standpoint, Apple’s advertising shows that their products aren’t just desired commodities, they also make you feel good. This positive association encourages customers to buy their products.

Baca: Pemasaran vs. Periklanan: Apa Bedanya?

Press releases: A story that publicly releases new information about your company, including product launches, earnings reports, and organizational changes. 

  • Example: Recently, any company with a press release regarding remote or hybrid work has turned into a viral news story. AirBnB’s change to go fully remote in 2022 had this impact as well. The press release was shared across social media platforms and news outlets, with the company reporting that their careers page was viewed 800,000 times after they shared the news.

Read: Press releases: How to issue standout stories (with template)

Community building: Bringing people together over a topic that aligns with your brand. The topic could be directly related (i.e., technology regulations for tech companies) or unrelated to your brand but important to your customers.

  • Example: Glossier is a beauty company that has put their community at the forefront as they built their brand. Whenever you comment on their posts, post about their products, or reply to a Glossier email, you get a response. They’re always tuned into what their customers are saying about them. Because of their constant engagement and interaction with customers, they’ve turned them from people who buy their products into raving fans.

It’s time for your brand to speak up

At the end of the day, you know why your company is the perfect fit for your customers. Communicating that to them is a crucial part of building your business. When done well, your brand messaging will help you to get your company’s values and benefits across and encourage your customers to keep the conversation going.

Coordinating brand messaging means communicating across marketing, sales, and leadership teams… just to name a few. Project management tools can help you keep your messaging organized and accessible to everyone in the company, while also reducing work on your end. Learn how.

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