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One of the hottest buzzwords today in business is “purpose-driven company.” Studies show that customers have shifted their priorities since COVID, looking to buy from companies that have a deeper purpose than simply making money. According to The Sprout Social Index™ 2022, company alignment with personal values is 74% more important to consumers today than it was in 2021. Having a clear brand messaging framework is a great way to convey those values and key messages clearly, across all marketing channels.
In this post, we’ll define the elements of a brand messaging framework, how it helps you tell your company’s story, and keep branding consistent.
A brand messaging framework defines your company’s mission, value proposition and differentiators, setting the standards for your brand’s personality, purpose, and key messages. Putting these guidelines in one place helps everyone on your team understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’ behind your work and how to communicate it to others.
A solid brand marketing framework ensures consistency, from internal communications to your many marketing channels. As you grow your team and company, a brand marketing framework helps you scale operations efficiently and gives employees (and managers) more confidence in the creative work you produce.
A well-developed and purpose-driven brand story creates an emotional bond between you and your audience, not only driving sales but also creating deeper brand loyalty.
According to business consultants Wunderman Thompson, 75% of adults surveyed say that the way businesses responded to COVID raised their expectations of them when it comes to helping fight some of the world’s biggest problems—like climate change. With growing pressure to define not just your ‘why,’ but also how you see your company fitting into the global community, having a clear brand story—defined by your framework—will help navigate this evolving business landscape.
We’ve covered the benefits of a brand messaging network. Now let’s get to work creating one. First, gather your data. Review the research you’ve conducted to date, including competitive analysis, testimonials, sales and marketing data. Keep it handy as you build out the framework–it will help you decide what, if anything, requires further research.
Before you create the perfect brand message, you first need to know who you’re talking to. This is where well-researched buyer personas come into play.
Buyer personas are profiles of your ideal buyers, decision makers, users, or influencers. They include demographic information, such as gender, age, location, and education level. Each person defines a specific job role you commonly encounter during the sales process, such as an engineer who gathers information or the CIO who makes the final purchasing decision.
Where buyer personas offer value is in documenting goals, as well as challenges, pain points and common questions. It not only defines your audience, it describes what motivates them–and what keeps them up at night.
Once complete, buyer personas drive your marketing decisions, from what social media channels to use to blog content to allocating advertising spend. In the context of a brand messaging framework, they help your company create messages specifically tailored to your target audience, appealing to their aspirations and acknowledging their worries.
Want to know more about buyer personas and how to build them? Read “Buyer Personas 101: A Down and Dirty Approach.”
Think about the last time you needed something. Maybe it was paper towels, or new shoelaces, or a water bottle for your preschooler. Chances are you opened the Amazon or Walmart app on your phone, ordered one with decent reviews and didn’t think about it again.
E-commerce has expanded consumer choices beyond comprehension. The same goes for B2B purchases. Virtual workers and a boundless selection of SaaS platforms make serving businesses more competitive than ever. Brands need to put in the work to show what their business can give customers that competitors can’t.
To define your value proposition, clearly explain how a product solves your customer’s problem, how the product benefits the company, and why it's better than similar products on the market.
This is where you highlight what differentiates you from competitors, whether it’s concrete value (saves the company money) or less quantifiable value (you’re a BIPOC-owned company).
Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” tells us to “start with why” when creating our marketing messages. The approach highlights why a business does what they do before diving into what they do and how they do it.
A mission statement tells us the why.
Take for example Atlassian’s mission statement:
Behind every great human achievement, there is a team. From medicine and space travel, to disaster response and pizza deliveries, our products help teams all over the planet advance humanity through the power of software. Ourmissionis to help unleash the potential of every team.
Atlassian’s passion for not just better workplace collaboration, but to “unleash” potential by bringing people together is inspiring–and certainly something companies would like to be a part of.
And while Sinek’s Golden Circle changed how marketing teams around the world approach messaging, the purpose of your company is only part of what you need to convey. Customers should also know why you are the perfect fit for them.
A clear, concise positioning statement tells potential buyers who you serve, how you help them, and why you help them in a way that’s different from the competition.
As you craft your position statement, you should consider:
To dive deeper into writing your company’s positioning statement, read our post, “Positioning Strategy: Where Do you Live in Your Prospect’s Head?”
Brand voice can be one of the more difficult aspects of a brand messaging framework to define. It includes style and tone, which are also tricky to define, so let’s define all three:
Brand voice refers to what you say to convey what your brand stands for. This can be traditional, educational or aspirational.
Brand tone refers to the way you talk about different aspects of your company within that voice. It’s like your mom or a friend–she has a clear way of speaking, but her tone might change based on whether she’s excited or frustrated. Tone might change based on the circumstance.
Brand style encapsulates all media–words, colors, images, and more. If your style is professional or cutting edge, the voice and tone should align accordingly.
It’s helpful to document these elements in a brand messaging framework to provide more concrete guidance to content creators. Not only do they understand the mission, value and positioning, they have descriptive parameters for creating taglines, ad copy and blog posts.
We’ve all heard the tale of the elevator pitch–an eager Hollywood hopeful happens to end up standing in an elevator next to the big movie executive. Here’s his chance! Just a few seconds to pitch his movie idea and make his dreams come true.
In marketing, you only have a few seconds–nanoseconds really–to grab someone’s attention. The elevator pitch has to do a lot in a small space as a result: it must explain what you do and how it’s delivered, appeal to your target audience, convey the value of a product or service, and specifically ask people to take action.
It helps to use simple language, stay away from acronyms and jargon, and seek to include details that will make an emotional connection.
Once you’ve documented your brand messaging framework, now what?
The first step is to share it with marketing, sales, leadership and anyone else who creates content or speaks on behalf of the company to ensure they’re all speaking with the same voice.
Implementing a brand messaging framework well also requires keeping it handy. Encourage content producers to reference it regularly and make sure all new hires have access.
Finally, make enforcing brand guidelines easier by creating templates and branding kits in your creative tools and CRM. Tools like Canva let you save brand guides so that everyone from the marketing manager to the intern can maintain style standards. HubSpot also makes it easy to maintain brand guidelines, with email, landing page and CTA templates.
Getting brand guidelines implemented across the organization can be a lot of work for marketing teams. It helps to lean on the expertise of an agency, especially one skilled in tools like HubSpot, to do the work of setting up these assets.
If you’d like to know more about how an agency can help you create and implement your brand messaging framework, we’d love to talk.
Beth LaMontagne Hall is a content strategist with 20 years writing experience. She hosts the live storytelling series Long Story Short and is an adjunct professor at the University of New Hampshire Paul College of Business teaching students how to tell great stories for business.