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Brand messaging marketing message 1

Create Your Powerful Brand and Marketing Messaging & Use Them Like a Pro

The brand messaging of your business, along with specific marketing messages, is what helps you communicate the complete essence and uniqueness of the brand to your audience, and helps in getting their engagement.

But many businesses tend to get this wrong. You can look at the homepage of a website, but have no clue what the brand does, how you can benefit, and what you have to do to sign up with the brand.

Keep reading for a full guide to what brand and marketing messaging really mean, how you can create them, and what's the most effective way to use them.

What is a brand message

A brand message is the communication used by a brand to share its promise of value and uniqueness with its target audience.

It includes words and sentences that can be used across the website and other marketing materials of the brand.

It is clear, authentic, solution-oriented, and inspires connection & emotion.

In short, your brand message is the most powerful expression of the true & unique value that you provide to your audiences. Click To Tweet

What is a marketing message and how does it differ from brand messaging

Marketing messages are specific, targeted messages, and they are created to serve three purposes:

1.  Communicate ->  the details of products and features offered by the brand, to the most relevant audience, accordingly.

2. Provide value -> for the audience with content and lots of useful information and tips, through different marketing channels, that can help the audience TODAY.

3. Engage -> with the audience through different channels, answer their questions, and build a relationship with them.

On the other hand, as mentioned above, brand messaging is the direct representation of the brand, at a higher level. It communicates the brand values, the story, the overall value proposition and promise.

Marketing messages should uphold and encompass the brand message as well.

Brand message difference marketing messaging

Key types of brand and marketing messages

As a brand, there are different kinds of messaging you need to create.

The essential types of brand messaging are:

1.  Brand Story: This is the overall description of your brand, what it does, and what it stands for

2.  Brand Promise: The clear, direct promise that your brand makes about what it will deliver, with all its products/ services

3.  Tagline: A broader, inspirational feeling that your brand can invoke in your audience

4.  Brand Pillars: The key attributes that makes the value proposition powerful

You can also have an elevator pitch and a corporate presentation to share your brand messaging, but they are essentially a compilation of some of the messaging above.

The essential types of marketing messages are:

1. Product/ service description: Details and features of each product

2. Specific positioning statement: Specific messaging for each persona, about the tools and the benefits the brand offers to them

3. Content marketing  Information (usually free) and stories that helps the audience and engages them

6. News and promotional messages: Special announcements, offers and programs, that make the brand offers extra attractive to the audience

This is not an inclusive list, however. As and when required, brands can create other kinds of marketing communication.

How to create your messaging strategy and architecture

Your brand and marketing messaging strategy should comprise of different layers, in chronological fashion. You can't jump to the bottom tiers of messaging before you finalize the top arch messages.

Your messaging architecture and framework could look like this:

Brand messaging architecture and framework

So the first step would be to create the primary messaging of the brand story: purpose, mission, story, etc.

You can also think of this as the 'elevator pitch', but one that includes a more meaningful message, not just a list of products and services.

Next would be the more concise positioning statement, brand promise and tagline, followed by clear brand attributes that sets the brand apart or that is most important to the audience.

These are what define the brand. So crafting these messages is the absolute starting point.

Only after this is done, move on to the more specific product/ service related/ engagement messages for each of your audiences/ personas.

Elements of a powerful messaging framework

An effective messaging strategy should be:

1.  Customer-centric and benefit-oriented

Remember the audience doesn't care about what products and services you sell, and what features they have. They only care about how these features benefit THEM. How their lives will be better.

So your messaging framework should always focus on the value that your audience will have by engaging with your brand.

There are 2 kinds of benefits for the customer:

Functional benefit -> This is the direct solution that the brand/ product can offer to solve the audience's problem or pain point.

Emotional benefit -> People buy feelings, not things. When people buy anything, it's because they think they will feel better in the having of it. So try to indicate in your messaging how your audience's life will be better if they buy your product or service.

2.  Direct and to the point

Your audience shouldn't have to guess what your message is, or spend time on your website hunting for it. It should be direct, clear, upfront, and easy to find on all material.

3.  Simple

Any messaging you create should follow KISS: Keep it Simple and Short (also referred to as Keep it Simple, Stupid 😉 . Don't have too layered messaging, just say in easy-to-understand language the benefit for your audience, so they can easily determine if you're the right fit for them or not.

4.  Consistent

Always try to maintain similar messaging across all platforms, both online, and offline. Whether it's brand or marketing messaging, your communication and brand should always reflect the uniqueness value proposition.

Also ensure that you keep the same brand tone of voice irrespective of the type of messaging.

5. Empathetic

Always try to communicate with you audience in a way that makes them feel understood. That you 'get' them, and can solve their problem and make their lives better.

Create your brand messaging framework

Step 1: Know your audience.

Target a specific, micro-niche audience. Understand deeply their lives, their specific problems, their shopping behavior, their goals and desires, and create a buyer persona. The more specific you can get about your audience, the better.

Here's how a one-sheet persona or customer profile may look like:

Buyer persona final

You can download the template here:

Related: 21 Free and DIY Ways of Doing an Audience Analysis for Your Small Business

You can have multiple buyer personas for the same brand, depending on the product, and your messaging for each type of audience has to be catered differently.

But you should have one core brand message for an overall buyer persona, which brings together the common elements of all the individual personas.

For example, see how Walmart talks about their buyer.

Walmart buyer persona

Step 2: Build your unique value proposition. It is also called the positioning statement.

How does your brand solve a specific problem, to achieve the desires. What is unique about this value? Build your specific niche. This is a part of creating your brand story as well.

Unique Value Proposition

Related: The Complete Guide to Creating an Authentic Brand Story in 2019

While you should also create the rest of your brand story, the key thing you have to identify is your unique value proposition.

Here's an example of a value proposition/ positioning statement (Walmart):

Walmart positioning

Overall buyer persona: Price-sensitive shoppers

Unique value proposition: Only Walmart delivers every day low prices on the brands they trust, in an easy, fast, one-stop shopping experience.

See 31 other examples of  Value Proposition 

Step 3: Craft your brand story and messaging.

Identify what your brand stands for, why and how it connects to you audience, design this identity, and build the 4 different kinds of messaging highlighted below.

Brand Story

Imagine your brand story to be the 'About Us' section on your website. So it should include:

  • Why your brand was launched (Purpose)
  • What does the brand want to do (Mission)
  • What does the brand aim to achieve (Vision)
  • What the brand believes in (Values)
  • The competitive positioning of the brand, also referred to as the unique value proposition (mentioned above), or the positioning statement.

Simply put, the unique value proposition or the positioning statement is a way that you can share in a nutshell what your brand stands for, with others.

All of the above together constitute the complete brand story, and the core messaging of the brand.

How to create your brand story? 

There are essentially 3 steps to this:

Step 1: Define the core essence of what your brand stands for.

Step 2: Design your brand with the appropriate visual and language identity.

Step 3: Message the brand identity in a way that connects to your audience.

Read the full guide here: The Complete Guide to Creating an Authentic Brand Story in 2019

Where to use your brand story?

  • About Us section of your website
  • Company Brochures
  • Brand/ Pitch Presentations
  • Investor Decks
  • Company pages on social media
  • Networking events or briefly describing your company to anyone

Brand Promise

This is the simplest brand message, stated in one or two lines about the value that the brand promises to deliver.

It is actually a concise version of your brand value proposition.

There may be 2 ways of stating the brand promise:

  1. A complete positioning statement, as described above, in one or two lines. It should include the basic value proposition: what the brand does, and the benefit that the customer can get by using the brand. Sometimes it can also include the positioning statement, the target audience, or the reason-to-believe. Refer to the Walmart example above.
  2. A short, catchy statement. This generally leans towards the brand features, though in some cases it can include the customer benefit as well. For example:

Brand Promise Examples

How to create your brand promise?

Step 1: Define the place where you audience is currently (facing a problem) - Position A.

Step 2: Identify the place where they want to be (i.e., when the problem is solved) - Position B.

Step 3: Look at your brand value proposition, and how your brand will help your audience reach position B.

Step 4: Make the value proposition concise and to-the-point.

Brand Promise A - B

In the above example of FEDEX, this is how the brand promise works:

Position A: The audience does not like to send parcels and not be sure when it will reach

Position B: They need to be able to trust a delivery service that it will deliver when it's supposed to

Brand Promise: We deliver on time, across the world.

Some important things to note here are:

  • You should focus on Position B (the ultimate benefit), not Position A (the unhappy situation). That should merely be implied.
  • The brand promise is about the overall value of the brand, and is not focused on a product. FEDEX has multiple products, all of which have different, specific value propositions, but all adhere to the core message of 'The World on Time'.
  • A brand promise can be both conversational, in the first and second person, or just a statement, in the third person. The most important thing is to clearly and directly communicate the brand value proposition.

Where to use your brand promise: 

  • On your website homepage, as the first statements that your visitors read, to understand what the brand promises to deliver. 
  • A part of your logo
  • Sign-off after marketing communication
  • Branded content/ campaigns. For example, Citibank can do a whole brand campaign on how they are always available to serve their customers

Brand Promises as positioning statements (on the homepages) 

Brand Promise Positioning Statement Evernote

Brand Promise Positioning Statement Neil Patel

Brand Promise as a short, catchy statement (used along with the logo)

Tagline

A tagline is like a brand promise, but on a broader value level.

Instead of the functional benefit, it indicates the state of being or the feeling that the brand helps you attain.

This is how it's different from the direct brand promise.

Difference brand promise tagline

A tagline can go with the logo and/ or be used as a secondary message along with the brand promise.

See the examples below:

Brand tagline examples

How to create a tagline?

Step 1: Think about the brand values, what the brand believes in.

Step 2: Imagine that your audience has reached Position B with your brand promise. How would they feel?

Step 3: Make it an inspirational, life-related message.

Step 4: Also speak directly to your audience, like a conversation, in the second person.

Step 5: Narrow it down to a few simple words, no more than 5. Make it short, catchy, easy to remember.

Where to use your tagline: 

  • As a part of your logo
  • Sign-off after marketing communication
  • Sign-off for the brand always, if possible. This will help in consistently inspiring a specific feeling in your audience, and build a connection over time.
  • Additionally, as mentioned above, your brand promise can be your tagline and be used along with the logo.

Brand Pillar Messages

Look at these 2 sections of your unique value proposition:

1.  We provide you with _________________________ (value proposition)

2. Because  __________________________________(Reason-to-Believe)

These highlight the most important features offered by your brand, and the uniqueness that you stand for, compared to your competition.

In fact, these are the specific pillars (features) of your competitive positioning.

Your pillars could also be your brand values, and how you do business. And that could be your differentiator as well.

Related: 27 Ways to Create Your Competitive Positioning & Business Differentiation

How to create your pillar messages:

Step 1: Identify your key pillars that gives your brand that added edge.

Some examples of brand pillars could be:

  • Customized service
  • A specific attribute in all products/ services 
  • The level of innovation

Step 2: Create a one-line statement to describe the pillar.

So for example, if you your pillar is something like being environment-friendly, you can write something like: 'We use only fresh, organic ingredients in all our products, without any artificial preservatives harmful for the environment (if it's true, of course!)

Step 3: Provide evidence to support that pillar, if possible.

In the above example, you can provide transparency about where you source your ingredients from, how you produce them, any certifications you have, etc.

For the beauty brand Lush Cosmetics, they have their core pillars (values) displayed across all their website pages.

brand pillar

You click on each, in the website, to get more information.

Where to use your brand pillar messages?

  • On your About Us section. Or across all pages, like Lush.
  • In the footer
  • As a part of your values, if applicable
  • Brand/ company presentations  
  • Specific marketing messaging for product description or campaigns

Create your marketing messages

Step 1: Identify the value proposition for each product or service that you offer.

You might have one or multiple products. Identify what is special about each of them, what benefits they offer to each kind of persona, and how your audience can buy and use it.

Step 2: Create a marketing plan and strategy for your brand as a whole or for specific products.

Identify which target audience your strategy should specifically cater towards, what kind of marketing it could entail, and what would be the execution plan.

Marketing strategy examples:

  • Brand marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Affiliate marketing

Step 3: Identify the specific campaigns and messaging you need to create.

2 key types of messaging are:

  • Content. These are anything that adds value to the audience's life, and attracts them to your website or product. These are generally continuous and consistent. 
  • News and promotional messages. These are time-specific announcements and offers that may be a part of your marketing strategy, and thus you may occasionally need to create this type of messaging.

Product/ Service Descriptions

But before you get started on specific marketing plans or campaigns, one core type of messaging you need to create are the descriptions of each of your products.

All your products/ services should uphold your core brand positioning and brand pillars. Click To Tweet

See the brand positioning example from Lush cosmetics below. Their primary buyer persona are urban people who want to look good but also care about the environment.

Lush brand positioning

And these are their pillars, as mentioned:

brand pillar

So in a nutshell, they claim to be very environmentally friendly cosmetics.

Now see their product descriptions below.

How to create product or service descriptions?

Step 1: Identify the value proposition, positioning, and features, of each product

Step 2: Acknowledge the benefit it delivers to the audiences, to your primary brand persona.

Step 3: Ideally provide some evidence (credibility) of why the product can actually deliver that benefit.

See the product example from Lush.

product description

So the product description of these shampoo bars include:

Positioning and features ->

1.  Concentrated pucks of shampoo that can outlast bottles of the liquid stuff.

2.  Packed full of essential oils and fresh ingredients

Benefits -> 

1.  Functional: You'll have gorgeous hair every time.

2.  Emotional: Savings (you don't use so many bottles). Maybe you also save money, though it's not clearly stated.

Evidence -> 

1.  One bar will last up to 80 washes

2.  Outlast two to three bottles of the liquid stuff

All of these uphold their core brand positioning and pillars.

Which is why you ALWAYS need to determine the brand messaging first.

Where to use product/ service descriptions?

  • On the Products/ Services page of your website
  • Brochures and leaflets
  • Advertising

Specific Positioning Statement and Promise

This is a very specific type of value proposition, depending on the products applicable to certain buyer personas. They state out the specific offers and promises for each kind of buyer, based on the products and features offered.

How to create a specific positioning statement and promise?

See the steps below, with examples from Active Campaign.

Step 1: Identify all your different personas.

Product positioning statement

Step 2: Write the specific benefit or promise that this specific audience can get.

In this example, let's go to Marketing Teams.

Product positioning statement 2

It simply positions itself as the next generation marketing tool, that helps marketing teams to improve customer experiences and conversions.

Step 3: Show details of the promise. i.e., all the benefits in detail.

I have shared an example below from this page, but there are many specific benefits also shown.

Product positioning statement

Step 4: Show HOW so this goal and benefit can be achieved.

Basically, in this case, it's by automating workflows.

Product positioning statement

Step 5: Specify all the tools available to make this happen (going back to product features and descriptions).

Product positioning statement

And all of this is specific to ONE persona.

You change the audience, and the messaging will be completely different, targeted to the needs, pain points, triggers, and desires of THAT specific audience.

Where to use your specific positioning statement and promise?

  • On the Products/ Services page of your website
  • Persona specific flyers and leaflets
  • You can also use this messaging in your brochure and brand presentations, but try to find a concise way to do that. Otherwise it becomes too overwhelming and not as impactful as it should be.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a complete messaging strategy in itself. It includes the most effective, helpful, engaging ways, in which to connect and engage audiences.

Needless to say, this is specific to buyer personas as well, depending on the benefit the brand promises them.

In the above example of Active Campaign, as the company promises to help marketers with automation, a valuable content piece would be how to use the automation effectively.

Content marketing messaging

But content could be of many different types:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Case studies
  • Lead magnets
  • Emails
  • Quizzes
  • Webinars

Lead magnets are usually more in-depth information and value that the audience can sign up for.

Emails: These are the personalized, targeted communication that the brand can send to their audience periodically, to create engagement.e.g. to drive them to the website.

Of course, this is also not a comprehensive list. There could be many other types of content as well.

How to create content marketing?

Step 1: Create a content strategy specific to each buyer persona

Step 2: Decide which kind of content would be most suitable for the different audiences

Step 3: Create fresh, valuable, insightful content

Step 4: Publish and share it based on your content calendar

Where to use content marketing?

  • Brand website, in a clear section titled Blogs. You can share these content on social media as well
  • Native social media. i.e. create specific content for specific social media and upload it directly there. For example, LinkedIn or YouTube videos
  • Print media. You can create advertorials or similar content to be published on print mediums

News and Promotional Messages

How to create news or promotional messages?

Step 1: Identify the specific news, event, or offer you want to communicate about, based on your marketing strategy

Step 2: Decide which kind of content would be most suitable for the different audiences

Step 3: Create fresh, valuable, insightful content

Step 4: Publish and share it based on your content calendar

Where to use news and promotional messages?

  • Brand website. Ideally, if it's a limited period offer or announcement, put it directly on the homepage
  • Social media. Share and promote your offer as much as possible
  • Email. Let your audience list know about your offer

Concluding Tips

First of all, don't get overwhelmed by all the messaging you need to create. Just start at the top brand tier, build your brand, and slowly move down to create all the messaging.

Some other core tips to remember:

1.  Make your website and content keyword optimized and SEO friendly as much as possible. 

So for each page, blog post, social media content, etc., apply on-page and off-page SEO techniques to help your site rank on the relevant search engines.

2.  Try to provide a call to action after every message/ page. 

If your readers just read your blog/ product/ event description on your website, social media, etc., and you don't guide their journey with a call-to-action, they might leave your page no matter how engaged they were. Invite them to take action. Some examples could be to sign up for a trial, buy a product, visit a store, redeem a coupon, or simply Know More.

3.  Use emotional/ power words

Some examples are: cheerful, confident, creative, courageous, exciting, fun, happy, inspired, hopeful, playful, passionate, vibrant, terrific. These connect with people at a subconscious level, and helps them to feel more attracted and connected to your message.

Need help creating your brand and marketing messaging? Book a free consultation with me to get started 🙂

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