Brand messaging is a method of communication done by a person, firm, or group.
Although it takes time to develop true brand messaging, it’s well worth the effort and investment. If you want to find out more about what brand messaging is, what it does, and how it can benefit you, keep reading.
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It can be tempting to think that the brand messaging is just a slogan. Yes, a slogan can and does get a lot of traction if it’s well chosen. To undertake brand messaging thoroughly, though, you’ll need to dive deeper.
With any form of communication, you should consider who you’re talking to first. But before we revisit that, it makes sense to consider “where” (metaphorically) the people we’re talking to actually are.
Marketers talk an awful lot about the “buyer’s journey.” Essentially, this model says that people move more or less linearly from awareness of your brand to purchase. That’s also the marketing funnel written and talked about everywhere these days.
The thing is, people are not linear, nor are they algorithms. A buyer might be just about ready to buy from you one day, and then the next day, they could be further back on the funnel, perhaps wanting more information about who you are and what you do before forking over the cash. So caution is needed because you don’t want to alienate people who, for example, are well aware of your company and your brand but want more information about what you’re selling.
One of the first forays needs to be into who exactly you are communicating with, i.e., prospective buyers and repeat customers. You don’t speak in the same way to a single, 65-year-old former steelworker as you do to a 25-year-old married stay-at-home mother of two.
With that said, there’s no substitute for research. If you don’t know exactly who’s buying (or who you expect to be buying) your product, then you need to research that. It will be worthwhile to take the time and effort to create a robust—if not somewhat fictional—description of the “person” you’re writing to as you develop your messaging.
Kenneth is a 55-year-old computer programmer working at a straight-laced southern USA university. Although his job and working environment are fairly conservative and traditional, Kenneth likes to feel that he’s open-minded and free. He enjoys video games, playing both MMORPG and first-person shooter games. He’s not married and has no children.
He takes home a low six-figure salary. He votes Republican but only because they say they’ll lower taxes. He is not a social conservative.
He’s looking for more online entertainment, and he doesn’t like to have his content censored. He’s looking to buy another source of movies to stream at home, and he wants something off the beaten path for the bragging rights. He wants to feel like he’s on the cutting edge of what’s cool.
We’re marketing to a mostly male audience over the age of 21. Our buyers will mostly be college educated and will make reasonably good money. “Reasonably good” means above the median income level, so more than 50K a year.
To be more succinct, don’t oversimplify, but don’t overcomplicate. Easy, peasy.
A similar process is necessary for B2B businesses, as well. Crafting these personas can make the difference between a small-fry brand and a runaway success.
Here's a 4-step copywriting framework for consistently high conversion rates.
Although brand messaging frameworks come in many forms, they often include the following:
Defining the target audience and the tone of voice the messaging will use is also part of the framework. Then—and only then—we get to the specifics, like writing a tagline.
No. Otherwise, everyone would do it and do it well, and marketers would be worshiped as royalty and greeted with free bananas constantly.
So what is your vision or your brand's vision? If you sell floor mops, it might seem ridiculous at first glance to consider the “vision” that you have around mops. Consider the fact that one of the main brands of mops, “O-Cedar,” is a very strong part of the parent company’s roughly 900 million dollars in profit in 2021.
What’s the vision that a mop brand may have had? Perhaps it’s a world where one can mop, and one's back doesn’t keep them up all night because it has an ergonomic design. Or perhaps it’s a world where homeowners are happy that they don’t have to replace a mop every few weeks because they bought a high-quality mop.
There isn’t really an incorrect vision (except if you take the position that your company doesn’t need to consider what their vision might be). Try a few visions on for size. Ask your customers what their visions are when they’re thinking of purchasing your product.
Doan Consulting Group’s mission is to help companies improve their bottom line by improving their copywriting. In the spirit of sharing expertise, this blog gives away tons of “trade secrets.”
Doan Consulting Group stands firm in the belief that people are leaving money on the table by using a “spray and pray” approach to messaging. And yet, it doesn’t need to be that way—you just need to be inspired and taught to do better, or you need someone to handle it for you.
So if you don’t know what your mission is, who do you think knows? This isn’t negotiable. Give it some thought, and if you need help figuring it out, consult someone that’s familiar with your business.
If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you probably know that one thing Doan Consulting Group has is a money-back guarantee. So in other words, they’ll convert more prospects into buyers.
Years of directly attributable sales increases prove Doan Consulting Group does exactly that. So it’s not founded in wishful thinking—the metrics speak for themselves.
That’s Doan Copywriting’s brand promise: copy that connects with the audience and provides real, measurable results.
It is "the whole mix of benefits or economic value it promises to offer to the existing and future clients" (i.e., a market segment) who will purchase their goods and services, according to Wikipedia.
Doan Consulting Group’s value proposition is that clients will enjoy increased sales, a better public profile and brand position, and the knowledge that their language represents their company in the most enchanting way possible.
Another format for your value proposition might be: “We help X do Y by using/doing Z”.
So the mop people might say, “We help everyone have happier, cleaner homes by making mops that don’t hurt your body, products that last a long time, clean effectively, and are a pleasure to use”.
Note that the language in your value proposition may or may not appear in customer-facing messaging. But thinking such things through and writing them out is crucial.
To be succinct in developing this messaging, companies need to figure out what’s so great about you/your brand, anyway. That’s what needs to be communicated here.
Again, this framework is fairly simple, but “simple” doesn’t mean easy or obvious.
No one jumps face-first into creating excellent brand messaging before they understand the brand as thoroughly as it is possible to do. There’s no substitute for thinking this through, talking it through, and iterating various visions, missions, and so on.
There are a lot of resources available to help flesh out a company brand, including those on this blog.
To clarify, it’s important to realize that the process takes time and that many companies find it more efficient when outside help is brought in to assist them.
One thing that we need to be mindful of is that we aren’t just talking about words. It’s the thought behind the words that matters.
What do you believe? What are your ethical positions as a company? Google famously used to claim that they would “Do No Evil.” If you were going to claim a moral position, what would yours be?
The next step would be to consider your brand’s “pillars,” e.g., the major themes, benefits, or selling points that make your brand unique. “Pillars” are generally defined as being: the brand’s purpose, the brand’s perception, the brand’s positioning, personality, and promotion.
If you’re going to make an effort required to build a communications strategy, it makes sense to do it well. Nobody sits down and starts by writing a tagline and creates a resonant, stand-the-test-of-time type tagline or copy that will move the needle in a large way for sales and brand identity.
It’s important to note that mega multinational corporations and “Mom and Pop” shops can accomplish this. It’s just a matter of giving the processing time, focused attention, and thought.
Learn how to build a powerful personal brand through copywriting here.
The subheading is a quotation from a poem written in the 1920s by the well-known E. E. Cummings. It resonates because it’s often true; feelings step up far quicker than logic on many occasions.
Put another way, this time, quoting Maya Angelou:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but never forget how you made them feel.”
Consider the famous tagline “You Can Do It, We Can Help.” How does that message make you feel about yourself? About the company offering to “help?”
Marketers keep hammering on about feelings because they must be part of the equation. If you’re going to craft powerful brand messaging, you must also work with, and evoke, people’s feelings.
In recent years, two huge brands who have been household names for many decades used their messaging in a somewhat “personalized” fashion—did you see those bottles of Coca-Cola with people’s names on them? How about the Snickers bars with “feeling” words right on the label, e.g., “Sleepy,” and “Grouchy,” and so forth?
What did personalizing the sodas and the candy do for the brand? How do you think it made people feel? Making someone feel like your brand is FOR them… means you’re halfway into a purchase. But this is something that we feel, not something that is intellectual.
Consider the Alfa Romeo brand—a luxury Italian car and SUV maker, if you’re unfamiliar. No matter your income level, if you’re not interested in high-performance luxury cars, that brand isn’t going to speak to you, and you won’t feel connected to them. No matter how good their messaging is.
Know the strategies on how to trigger powerful emotions in your copywriting here.
One of the most powerful things you have is the power of stories. Before the dawn of recorded history, humans told stories to each other. Stories have changed the world. The stories that Charles Dickens wrote directly helped develop homeless shelters for women, the first pediatric hospital in Britain, and the development of orthopedics. His stories still reverberate today.
But Dickens didn’t change the world all at once. He did so by changing the mind of individuals, and that, bit by bit, changed the opinions and the moral stances in the world. Likewise, marketers don’t change everyone exposed to their messaging in one fell swoop. It snowballs. So, you want your story to get out there. We aren’t playing games here, even if you’re selling games. Story is important.
It should be simple to see that all messaging is storytelling, particularly regarding branding. What’s the story of your brand? What is your brand’s promise?
Some people define the concept of “brand” as simply the promise that your company is making to the world. So what does that promise look and sound like? The “You Can Do It, We Can Help” people promise that their customers can do “it” (whatever it is they’re thinking of tackling) and also promise that their employees and their businesses are competent, available, and eager to help.
The sentence I just wrote isn’t in the same universe as strong a message—or story—as “You Can Do It, We Can Help.” So what that company and any other needs to do is to distill, distill, and distill some more until the messaging is as it needs to be.
Storytellers don't have to explain why some stories are important. This “You Can Do It…” message is pretty self-explanatory. But consider any sort of “rags to riches” story, such as Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, who left school at age 16 and became a multi-millionaire businessman, serial entrepreneur, and now altruist. The nugget of those stories is that it’s possible to improve your life.
What could be more powerful than that? What powerful story can your brand evoke? Don’t be lazy; if you sell car floor mats, don’t tell yourself there’s no story there. Get us thinking about the story that all my journeys and my passenger’s floor mats might tell—and again, you could be halfway to moving me to purchase.
Here's a complete storytelling guide to help you write better copy.
There are a lot of marketers out there who aren’t that good. That’s part of why it might feel like we get painted with the brush of being manipulative people pretending to be things we’re not. A comic strip called Dilbert may have furthered this, but marketing and advertising work has been skewered since the fields began. See Mad Magazine, for example. Or the movie “Crazy People,”
Essentially, there’s no doubt that good messaging drives conversions and bad messaging lowers them. Clear and consistent messaging takes time and money but is worth the investment.
Simple tweaks can mean thousands or even millions in revenue: there have even been cases where a mismatch between advertising messaging and a landing page interfered with conversions. Fixing just that led to a considerable uptick.
The work you did was meaningful. Now, make it stick.
Take the time to write up your brand messaging guidelines. Things you never want to say as part of your branding also need to be part of the guidelines.
Many firms also formalize logos, brand style/typography, taglines, etc. It needs to be in written, tangible format, not a post-it or in someone’s head.
Once you have that “codified” in a way, it is repeatable and will support your brand.
Who’s your target audience? Who buys your product or service? Who do you WANT to work with?
I want to work with intelligent people who are thoughtful and have a sense of humor, and who have the financial means to pay me what I‘m worth. This is part of why my love for bananas is a visible part of my messaging and tone—it’s playful, and if you can’t handle “calling me up on the banana phone,” then I probably am not the right marketer to help you.
If my target audience is 65-year-old multinational CEOs who are super traditional and conservative, they might roll their eyes at a “banana phone” and head in the other direction.
That’s fine. I’m not for everyone—but neither are you or your brand. If you need outdoorsy people, you don’t take the tone of someone who’s never been in the country. At the same time, you don’t talk down to them as though they’re uneducated. Right now, more than a handful of savvy PhDs are sleeping in tents (most of them by choice). Tone matters.
Well, we are, and you are, or you wouldn’t be reading this far. Good messaging is challenging to create. Marketing is often dismissed, which is hard to believe in this day and age.
Case in point: “If you build it, they will come” is a movie line, not reality. You can build it, make them aware of it, and if they are intrigued by your messaging and like your products, they will come and keep coming. Work with these frameworks, and your market share will improve.
How we say these things is at least as important as WHAT we say. Show your audience how you’re adding value. Show it with strong messaging. Do that work and tell them about it, and if your product and service are strong, you’ll be looking at a bigger market share.
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