Jun 19 2017
In our last blog we explored the 6 steps to establishing an effective brand. The subject of branding is far too large to capture in one blog, so we reserved our last submission primarily for the process of designing a brand identity and developing a style guide.
This time we dig deeper into the topic of brand development – specifically brand messaging. It’s our goal to further unpack the concept of brand messaging so you can formulate your own positioning statements and tagline.
As stated in our previous blog, brand messaging starts with a deep understanding of your Why, How, What and Who.
Why does your company do what it does?
How does it do it?
What specifically is it you do, and What products or services do you provide?
Who buys your product and services?
If you patiently research the market and objectively analyze your company, your messaging framework should naturally emerge. There are three perspectives to explore as you attempt to answer those questions:
1. The Customer Perspective
2. Your Company’s Perspective
3.The Marketplace Perspective
To understand the Customer Perspective you should spend an extended amount of time getting to know your buyers. Research as much data about your customers as you can find. If data isn’t available, survey them yourself.
Your goal is to learn as much as you can about their pain points, their defining characteristics as a group, and how your product or service solves their problems. Once you have information about your ideal customer, develop persona guides that allow you to quickly make marketing decisions in the future.
The Company’s Perspective is often overlooked. If you’ve started with the Why, How, What, and Who, you’ve already developed the foundation for a Company Perspective. Go even further in this step. Ask your employees, your sales team, and your operations team how they view the company and what resonates with the customers they encounter. This is vital information. Your client-facing employees frequently have the greatest amount of real world intelligence about your company’s place in the market.
Lastly, what does the competitive landscape look like? In our last blog we described the process of surveying the terrain before embarking too far on a branding journey. In this case, what is your company’s unique value proposition compared to the other businesses with whom you will be competing? This Marketplace Perspective gives you the insight to make your company fit in OR stand out in the overall business ecosystem.
Create Your Messaging Building Blocks
By now you should have discovered the important features, benefits, values, and strengths that define your business. These are the foundations of your messaging upon which you build your strategy.
With this foundation in mind, how would you describe your company using 5 or 6 words (or short phrases)? If you are working with a team, everyone should write these key terms onto sticky notes. Compare all the descriptions and see what patterns emerge. Place them into columns or groups and then distill them into focused messages. These are your building blocks.
For example: a company might describe themselves as…
From these specific key terms you could surmise their values. They are reliable, researchers, advisors, and performers. They are problem solvers.
Constructing a Messaging Strategy
In November we wrote about the lessons you could learn from political campaigns. Given that politics is a giant exercise in brand strategy and messaging, campaigns and political parties are the wizards of spin. They know their buyers (voters and contributors), they speak their language, and they touch a small handful of critical pain points for each type of voter.
Campaigns (brands) create messaging statements for advertising, printed collateral, promotional products, and talking points in interviews. Once they’ve discovered a winning formula, they repeat, repeat, and repeat the messaging until it’s time to start over.
Let’s look at this from your perspective and apply it to the messaging you need.
You know your buyers. You’ve explored your competitors. You have a great understanding of your vision, mission, and the company culture you hope to create. You have the building blocks, or key terms, that define your company. From this knowledge you should develop the following:
Tagline – The commitment or challenge you make to your customers, maybe even yourself. It’s an old rule in billboard advertising that your message must be no longer than 10 words or less. The same goes for your tagline.
“Think Different” (Apple)
“Problems Solved” (Divining Point)
Positioning Statement – In a crowded or competitive marketplace, a positioning statement defines how your company is unique compared to other companies. It may look like a tagline, but consider it more of a statement about the niche or space in the market served by your company.
“The Document Company” (Xerox)
“The Uncola” (7-Up)
Tone – Tone is a conscious decision about how your company communicates with the world. If your company had a personality, this would be the biggest way it’s conveyed. Is your company confident, bold, provocative, and innovative? Or is it defined by a humble service, calm, and sincere? Does your company use humor or passion?
“We drink all we can. The rest we sell.” (Utica Club)
“Eat Mor Chikin” (Chick-fil-A)
There are other messaging materials you can create, like an Elevator Pitch, Company Pillars, and the explanation of your company’s values and history – known online as your About page.
Once you’ve undertaken the hard work of messaging, all of your copywriting, ad copy, and written collateral should naturally flow. The tools above will allow you to infuse all written content and messaging with the key words and qualities that properly represent your company and speak to your customers. Given that content is still king in today’s crowded media landscape, you will have a leg up on your competition by having quality content that exudes your core values. Every ad, commercial, social media post, white paper, or blog will continue to positively drive your brand.
Want to move your business forward? Let’s talk.