It may be trite, but it’s true: every brand needs a story. Brand messaging is how you tell that story, to help prospects and customers understand your unique value in the marketplace.
But messaging isn’t just the story of what you do; it’s a promise that makes people excited to do business with you. In a noisy, over-communicated world, good messaging helps you be noticed, remembered, and sought after. It also gives everyone in your organization a common language for communicating with customers—a language that, chosen carefully, resonates with the people you most want to reach.
Brand Messaging Isn’t Just Marketing
Brand messages come in all shapes and sizes, from taglines to ad copy to social posts to sales pitches. Keep in mind, brand messaging content isn’t just for your marketing and advertising. It also helps your sales team be more persuasive at key moments in the buying process, and provides your customer service team with messages that remind customers of your unique value.
Some messages will focus on specific services or benefits. Some may speak to targeted subsets of your audience. Whatever the purpose or format, all of your messaging must tell a coherent story. And all of your messages should share some crucial traits.
Below are five key characteristics of successful brand messaging, with examples of how (and how not) to bring them to life.
Messaging Rule #1: Focus on Your Customer
As we noted in a previous blog on the art of writing taglines: it’s not about you. Effective brand messaging doesn’t talk about what makes your company or product wonderful from your perspective. It focuses on what success looks like for your customers, from their point of view.
OFF THE MARK: “Our brilliant software engineers created this user-friendly platform that can be easily mastered and implemented across your business requirements.”
ON THE MARK: “It’ll take you less than an hour to learn our platform and put it to work in your business.”
Messaging Rule #2: Use Clear Language
You may understand all the jargon in your industry. And maybe you think using it makes you sound more legit. Don’t fall into that trap! Lots of companies use unnecessarily complicated language to impress, not inform, their audience. But not every prospective customer understands the technical terms and buzzwords you’re used to slinging around. If people can’t figure out what you’re saying, your messaging will have no impact—or worse, it’ll turn them off.
OFF: “Enhance customer engagement and maximize conversion performance with our UX-optimized CRM solutions.”
ON: “Create delightful customer experiences. Have a delightful time doing it.” [Borrowed from Hubspot.]
“Plain language removes barriers between you and your readers,” says Hoa Loranger of the Nielsen Norman Group. “No one has ever complained that a text was too easy to understand.”
Messaging Rule #3: Get to the Point
Ever notice how some people talk a lot without saying anything? It’s hard not to tune them out. If your brand messaging includes a lot of extraneous words and ideas, it distracts from the core purpose of the message: telling someone, clearly and concisely, what your product or service can do for them.
OFF: “With so many of us juggling work and life and having little time to cook a decent meal, our easy-to-prepare meal kits make your cooking experience faster and easier.”
ON: “Our 3-step meal kits are ready to eat in just 20 minutes.”
Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash
Messaging Rule #4: Be Original
I swear, if I had a nickel for every company that promises to “enable profitable growth through innovative solutions that streamline your business and enhance the customer experience,” I’d own a garage full of Pelotons and hold neighborhood races.
Please, please, don’t settle for overused, ordinary claims in your brand messaging. I realize not everyone can pull novel concepts and creative writing out of thin air. But if you use just a little imagination based on everyday experiences, you can come up with some meaningful phrases.
OFF: “Our social media optimization tool will boost your marketing presence and drive more engagement.”
ON: “We’ll manage your social media so well, you’ll feel like a Kardashian.”
Messaging Rule #5: Don’t Get Cute
Just to be clear, being original doesn’t mean you have to get clever. Make sure your messaging is easy to understand at first glance, and requires no further explanation.
Too many people try to come up with catchy slogans or ad headlines that sound like an inside joke, when they really needed to just spell things out. If you want people to buy what you’re selling, don’t make them guess what you’re talking about.
OFF: “We’re the sizzle to your first-class steak.”
ON: “We’ll get you more qualified leads for your premium services.”
Your Brand Messaging Checklist
Not sure if you’re nailing the basics of good messaging? Evaluate the messages you write with the following questions:
Are your messages clear and easy to understand?
Do your messages offer anything different from your competitors?
Are your messages about your company’s qualities or your customers’ needs?
Do your messages say anything genuinely interesting to your target audience?
Brand messaging is crucial for shaping the way people think about your business and convincing them to choose you over your competition. If you’re not thinking carefully about the story you put out in the world, your prospects will make one up for you—and it may not be the story you want to tell.
Need help crafting spot-on brand messaging for your organization? It’s one of our favorite things to do. Contact us today to talk to us about your story.