What is the one thing that should tie together every piece of content you create? Brand messaging.
Now don’t get me wrong — every piece of content you create does not have to have the same exact message on the surface. Brand messaging refers to the underlying value proposition conveyed and language used in your content. It’s what makes buyers relate to your brand by inspiring them, persuading them, motivating them, and ultimately making them want to buy your product. Here are a few examples of brand messaging you may recognize, in the form of slogans:
- Nike: Just do it.
- Salesforce: No Software.
- Subway: Eat fresh.
- Adidas: Impossible is nothing.
- Walmart: Save money. Live better.
- Levis: Quality never goes out of style.
Taglines are catchy, but there’s a lot more that goes into your brand messaging than stringing a few words together with enough flair to make them memorable. This is where many marketers get confused during the messaging development process. Product positioning, key benefits, brand pillars, value proposition, audience, and tone are just a few items that need to be taken into consideration. Together, these elements combine to create a full messaging framework that can guide your marketing across every piece of content and every channel. Everything you create, both internally and externally, should be able to map back to this messaging.
So how do you get started? As you can probably guess, you don’t jump right in and start dreaming up award-winning slogans. You have to put in the grunt work first, which means looking at your brand from three different angles.
The Customer Angle
What does the customer care about? Do you have survey data that can tell you more about their pain points, their favorite product features, and the things that matter to them? Your brand messaging needs to be customer-centric, which means you need to get inside the mind of your audience before you get too far into messaging development exercises.
The Internal Angle
Now look at your brand from the inside out. What do your sales reps find really resonates during the sales process? What is the vision for your brand? Where do you see your brand going over the next year? The next five years?
The Competitive Angle
Lastly, consider your marketplace. Keep in mind that each brand can only own one message, and that message should be unique. You don’t want your buyers confusing your brand with a competitor’s just because your value propositions are too similar.
Once you have a solid understanding of each of these three points, you can start building your actual messaging framework. At Pardot, we love this chart developed by the marketing team at Highfive, which has already been filled in with their example messaging:
Let’s take a look at each element in the chart above.
Finally, you can work on your catchy tagline! Your brand promise should be targeted toward the customer, indicate your vision, and still convey what you actually do. It’s a tough balancing act, so be patient!
Your positioning statement defines where you fit into the marketplace. This can help guide both your internal and external messaging.
Hopefully, this part isn’t new. Throughout this process, it’s important to keep your ideal buyers in mind so that you’re always working toward messaging that will resonate with their needs, motivations, interests, and pain points.
Your mission statement takes a more visionary angle. What do you hope to accomplish? What is your ultimate goal? What are your core beliefs?
Tone of Voice
This is especially important for the copywriting part of your messaging. Define the tone that you want to use for your brand. Are you going for more of a fun, playful brand? Is your audience made up of c-level execs, and therefore requires a more serious tone? Don’t be afraid to have fun with tone development exercises — it can help to compare your brand to different celebrities, songs, other companies, movies, cities, and more get a feel for a tone that would be most appropriate for your business (“If my brand were a celebrity, it would be George Clooney”).
How would you describe your brand in 30, 60, or 90 seconds — to your audience, not to one of your coworkers? This exercise can go a long way toward simplifying your brand messaging.
Start breaking your brand positioning, mission statement, and promise into “brand pillars” that describe the three most important selling points of your product. Keep in mind the customer, internal, and competitive angles discussed earlier. Each brand pillar will then be supported by a key benefit statement and supporting examples. These pillars will really inform the focus points of your marketing content.
Once you’ve filled in each of the items above (or using a messaging chart of your own), you’ll have a solid messaging framework in place. Use it to make sure your go-to-market messages are all consistent, and to tie all of your pieces of content together. This will ensure the customer experience isn’t fragmented by mismatched messages, and most importantly, will help your buyers see your brand the way you want it to be seen.