Your brand comes to life in myriad ways—from your logo to your customer experience—but few are as essential and compelling as brand messaging.
Whether in the tempting narrative you tell on your website homepage or the rousing story you tell to rally your employees, brand messaging comprises all the ways your audiences—both external and internal—experience and understand your brand.
In a very real sense, the quality of your brand is determined by the quality of its messaging. To see why this is the case, let’s take a deep dive into what we mean by brand messaging.
- What is Brand Messaging?
- Why is Brand Messaging Important?
- The Brand Messaging Framework
- How to Craft Powerful Brand Messaging
- Brand Messaging Examples
- The Takeaway
In what follows, we take a look at exactly what brand messaging includes, why it’s important, and how to create cohesive and compelling messaging for your own brand.
What is Brand Messaging?
Brand messaging is the narrative framework that defines your brand for both internal and external stakeholders. It is the story that audiences identify with, either as a customer or as an employee.
Accordingly, there are two types of brand messaging: internal and external. Internal brand messaging is the company messaging that defines your employer brand. It includes things like your mission, vision, and core values.
External brand messaging defines your brand for customers, and includes things like your tagline, website messaging, and advertising.
Messaging that is cohesive and consistent, for internal and external stakeholders alike, is a sign of true brand alignment. That’s why it’s so important to have a clearly defined brand messaging strategy.
Why is Brand Messaging Important?
By this point, you’ve hopefully gotten a sense of why brand messaging matters. But when we drill down a little further, we can see just how important messaging is for defining who you are as a company and why customers and employees should care.
Defines Your Brand and What It Stands For
As we’ll see below, your brand messaging framework helps you articulate the answers to important questions like why your brand exists, what it aims to achieve, and how it intends to get there.
Messaging like your purpose, vision, and mission ensures that both employees and customers clearly understand who your brand is at the deepest level. In an age where consumers are increasingly interested in what a company stands for, clear, consistent brand messaging is essential.
Boosts Customer Acquisition
Effective brand messaging communicates why your customers should choose your brand over the competition. It’s this type of messaging that’s central to customer acquisition.
Clearly defined brand benefits and key differentiators give you a framework around which to build persuasive messaging that builds a case for why your brand is superior.
Improves Customer Engagement
Strong brand messaging not only attracts customers by clearly articulating brand benefits and differentiators, it also keeps them engaged. Effective brand copywriting speaks directly to the needs of target audiences with a brand personality that is relevant and relatable.
Think of the brands in your own life. Whether it’s social media, advertisements, or newsletters, there are certain brands we look forward to engaging with. These are the brands that have found a way to cultivate cohesive, compelling brand messaging.
Builds Customer Trust
Brand loyalty is the ultimate goal of every brand, and the key to building cult-like brand loyalty is customer trust. So, how do you gain the trust of those you serve? The most important way is delivering on your brand promise.
An essential component of the strategic messaging framework we explore in the next section, your brand promise is the solemn pledge you make to those you serve. Clearly and consistently communicating your brand promise is the foundation of building customer trust.
Attracts and Retains Top Talent
Equally as important as customer engagement and retention is employee engagement and retention. As we’ve said before many times, the best talent will always want to work for the best brands.
Crisp, compelling, and consistent messaging is the mark of a strong brand with a clearly defined company culture—precisely the type of company that the best candidates want to work with.
Reinforcing that culture with cohesive and inspiring internal messaging is the key to fostering the purpose and morale that are essential for employee retention.
The Brand Messaging Framework
Your brand messaging can be thought of as the narrative through line that connects your entire verbal identity—from taglines and slogans to website and marketing copy.
Key to that through line are several important pieces of core messaging. These comprise your brand messaging framework: the central ideas that inform your messaging and ensure consistency across touchpoints.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the components of a strategic messaging framework.
Your purpose is the reason your company exists beyond making money. It’s the thing gets you up in the morning and motivates you to head to work. Purpose is the answer to the most fundamental question your organization faces: Why? Your purpose statement should evoke the profound motivation that embraced by all stakeholders, including future employees.
Your vision describes the ultimate end-state toward which your company is headed. It’s the ideal world you hope to bring about. Your vision statement should feel lofty, even audacious. Think of your it as an inspirational story your company’s leader tells to rally the troops. Your vision should be clear and simple—an idea that anyone associated with your brand could easily remember.
Your mission is the roadmap to your vision. It outlines the route you plan to take to achieve your vision, stating what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, whom you’re doing it for, and why you’re doing it. Your mission statement should bolster confidence in your brand’s expertise by being a confident assertion of each of these elements.
Your core values are the principles your brand is founded on. They outline what is most important to your company—from an ethical and even philosophical perspective. It’s important that your entire organization is aligned around on your values. They should serve as foundational criteria for new hires and even align with the types of clients you work with.
Your brand benefits are the benefits your brand purports to offer those it serves. What are the advantages your customers get from engaging with your products or services? Whether it’s the refreshment that comes from a crisp beverage or the confidence of knowing their taxes are complete or correct, each brand offers a different set of benefits around which its messaging should be crafted.
How is your brand different than other brands that offer the same products or services? This is the question that your key differentiators succinctly answer. We recommend defining approximately three key differentiators, which will serve as the foundation of your competitive differentiation. Three clearly articulated things your brand does better than anyone else.
As we mentioned in the previous section, your brand promise is the foundation of customer trust and brand loyalty. It is the solemn pledge you make to those you serve to reliably deliver on a specific and tangible benefit. The best brand promises have five distinct qualities: they are authentic, compelling, unique, memorable, and believable.
Your big idea is the essence of your brand, boiled down to an ultra-concise concept or statement. Big ideas often double as taglines, although they don’t have to. Think Nike’s “Just do it,” Apple’s “Think different,” or Kaiser Permanente’s “Thrive.” In fewer than three words, each of these big ideas speaks volumes about the brands behind them and serves as the starting point for rich and multifaceted brand messaging.
Finally, your brand narrative is a short narrative that unpacks your big idea, building the nuanced story and argument that will serve as the foundation for the messaging throughout your brand’s ecosystem. Your brand narrative can take the form of a short elevator pitch or it can be a longer statement with more narrative flourish. The idea is to tell the story of your brand in a way that is creative, persuasive, and compelling.
How to Craft Powerful Brand Messaging
So, how do you craft the type of powerful messaging that drives business growth? There are many things to consider, but at the end of the day, writing brand messaging it’s all about knowing what to say, how to say it, and whom to say it to. Let’s take a closer look, starting with who.
1. Identify Your Target Audiences
Arguably the most important starting point for all brand messaging is identifying who the messaging will be aimed at. Only by your target audience can you create messaging that is persuasive and identifiable.
Who are the customers your brand serves? What are their unique needs, challenges, goals, and motivations? What types of things are they interested in beyond the problems your brand solves?
The more details you can provide when answering these questions, the better. They’ll give you the fodder you need to speak to your audiences in uniquely relevant ways. And the best way to get these details is with in-depth brand research.
2. Create Your Brand Messaging Framework
We didn’t outline all of the components of the messaging framework in the previous section for no reason. Taking the time to define each of these messaging items will give you the framework you need to write consistent, compelling brand messaging.
Your purpose tells reminds your customers why you do what you do; your benefits tell them the advantages of engaging with your brand; your differentiators tell them why to buy from you as opposed to your top competitors; and so on.
It’s critical to have these essential ideas defined before you sit down to write messaging for your website or social media channels.
3. Define Your Brand Voice
Your brand voice is the unique and recognizable way your brand speaks and writes. It is the how in the above who, what, how scenario.
Highly informed by your brand personality, your brand voice sets your brand apart from the competition, making it distinct and memorable. It humanizes your brand, making it more relatable for your target audiences.
In every piece of your messaging—from website copywriting to advertising scripts to marketing collateral—your brand voice should be instantly recognizable.
4. Create Your Brand Messaging
It’s only after taking the time to complete steps one through three that you’re ready to sit down and create your brand messaging. Whether it’s for your website, marketing materials, or social media, your messaging should keep the who, what, and how of the previous three sections in mind.
Brand messaging that is cohesive and compelling speaks directly to the needs of target audiences, is driven by the ideas in your brand messaging framework, and is written in a voice that can be recognized wherever it’s heard.
Easier said than done, sure, but the more you know your audience, your brand, and its voice, the easier it becomes. As with any writing it’s best not to overthink it. Have fun with your initial drafts, and then edit for clarity and consistency.
5. Establish Brand Messaging Guidelines
Speaking of which, consistency is one of the most important qualities of powerful brand messaging. Consistent messaging is more recognizable, which makes it feel more reliable. Familiarity leads to customer trust, and trust leads to customer loyalty.
The best way to ensure consistency is with guidelines that clearly outline the messaging dos and don’ts when it comes to your brand. Brand messaging guidelines comprise a document available to anyone responsible with brand copywriting. They should outline things like your brand personality and brand voice, and include messaging examples as references for tone and style.
Brand Messaging Examples
For examples of powerful brand messaging that drives business growth, one need look no further than the world’s most successful brands. From the confident to the quirky, the following brands have each cultivated consistent messaging styles that are as recognizable as their logos.
Four simple words have defined BMW’s brand messaging for decades: “The ultimate driving machine.” That aura of knowing confidence can be found in brand messaging examples from any number of BMW marketing touchpoints over the years:
“Lose your innocence in 3.9 seconds.”
“Release the power within.”
“Introduce your heart to your throat.”
“Powerful. Agile. Intelligent.”
Few brands have defined an industry quite like Nike. Where BMW’s messaging is about automotive performance, Nike’s is about individual performance. They speak directly to the inner athlete in all of us, with encouragement to never hold back:
“Just do it.”
“Do things history could only dream of.”
“Don’t wait until you’ve won a ring to play like it.”
“My better is better than your better.”
Accenture’s messaging reflects the human ingenuity of its employees and their commitment to using technology to benefit the world. When it comes to communicating their brand, Accenture inspires organizations to embrace change and create more value for the world:
“High performance. Delivered.”
“Strategy gives you direction. Technology lights the way.”
“If you innovate, they will come.”
“Let there be change.”
Mailchimp has always taken a slightly cheeky approach to messaging, especially for a B2B brand. It’s a brand that knows its target audience—small business owners—the type of entrepreneurs who march to the beat of their own drummer. With each marketing campaign, Mailchimp finds a new way to express its brand with unexpected and decidedly human messaging:
“You’re more than a small business.”
“There’s no such thing as a part-time business owner.”
“Our tools don’t hold back and neither should you.”
“Congratulations! Your name doesn’t make sense anymore.”
Messaging is how your brand communicates with the world. It is essential for attracting and retaining both customers and employees. It’s how your audiences know who you are and where you stand.
Cultivating the type of powerful brand messaging that is key to building brand equity and growing your business is a deliberate process that starts with knowing who you’re talking to, what to say, and how to say it. But there’s no better way to build deep and lasting relationships with the people you serve.