What’s brand messaging – and how do you create it?
Modern brands have so many ways to communicate nowadays – newsletters, bus shelter adverts, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok. The list of channels is endless and is growing all the time, making it harder to stay consistent.
So you need a beacon to light the way for every branded tweet, email, ad campaign or anything else you put out. And that beacon is your brand message.
What is brand messaging, anyway?
A brand message sums up who you are and what you’re about.
What do you actually do? Why do you do it? How do you do it? And why should people come to you for it – rather than cosy up to any of your competitors?
Those are the big questions your brand messaging should answer. It can take any form, from a purpose statement to a story, to a fully-fledged messaging house (more on those later). But it should be a consistent touchpoint that people can come back to if they’re ever unclear about what you stand for.
Whatever your brand message looks like, it always needs to be:
- Backed up with evidence
- Relevant to everyone in your business
- Able to stand the test of time
Here’s how you can go about creating brand messaging examples of your own.
Find out what makes your teams tick
When a client asks us to revise old brand messaging, we start by asking what their staff have to say about the business. Or we see if we can ask them ourselves – because that’s usually where the most authentic insights lie.
For example, we might ask:
- Why (aside from getting paid) do they come to work?
- Why did they choose your company?
- What are their proudest moments? What would they change?
By learning what your people value in life and at work, you can figure out what gives them purpose. And then use it to guide your brand’s purpose.
Back up your brand message with proof
All brand messaging needs to be backed up by real proof. That is, all the tangible things you’ve done and are doing.
Many brands think this means focusing on macro-level, strategic initiatives like ‘digital transformation’. But your people are the living proof of what your brand stands for.
So again, take the time to speak to them. You’ll hear individual stories about caring for customers, daily innovations or challenging toxic norms. These are the things that will prove your purpose and give your messaging credibility.
Choose a brand thought that everyone can get behind
HSBC had the right idea. When they refreshed their brand message, they listened to tens of thousands of colleagues round the world first. Their new brand purpose (‘opening up a world of opportunity’) is one their people can relate to – whether they’re responding to social posts, creating TV ads, analysing risk or writing up policies.
You don’t need to speak to tens of thousands of people. But taking the conversation outside of brand and marketing will make sure your messaging stands up to scrutiny. And it’ll give you a strong foundation for whatever changes your brand might end up facing down the line.
Put your message into the right form
So now you know what goes into crafting a brand message. But do you know what yours could or should look like? Use our quick guide as a starting point.
The big why. A one-line statement, the shorter the better, that answers the question: why do you exist? What are you trying to improve, add to, or discover about the world? Your brand purpose is your north star – once you’ve got that nailed, the rest of your story can follow.
Brand narrative or story
This one’s a bit more fluid, but it’s a typically a longer piece of writing that sets out who you are, what you do and why. Think of this as copy you can lift and use on your website, in pitch books and in all sorts of comms.
A shorter, snappier version of your narrative – how do you sum up what you do in just a paragraph?
A messaging house might cover off fairly similar content to your brand narrative or story, but in a way that’s more like building blocks, rather than copy that flows as one story.
Typically it might have your purpose or value proposition at the top, and then three key messages underneath. But you can structure it differently depending on what you need.
If your messaging house is your core ideas, a messaging bank is a place to put specific messages around particular topics. How do you talk about what you’re doing to reduce carbon emissions? What’s your line on GDPR again? This is the place for those, to get your people singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to fiddly stuff.
If a brand purpose is why you exist, your vision (or vision statement) is more like where you want to get to, or what you want the world to look like in the future.
From ‘why’ to ‘why you’. Your value proposition sums up what you offer the world – who are you here to help, and what are you giving them that only you can?
As for everything else…
From brand onions to love keys, there are all sorts of weird and wonderful brand messaging examples and diagrams out there. Our take? The more confusing you make the structure of your messaging, the less likely people are to actually use it. So keep it simple.
Want some help crafting your story? Speak to us.