11 Apr Beginner’s Guide to Brand Messaging (+ Template)
In today’s landscape, it’s increasingly difficult to break through the noise of the competition. From social media to paid ads and organic content, how do audiences decide where to purchase from? It comes down to personally aligning with a company’s values.
According to a survey by Edelman, 81% of consumers will buy a product or service based on brand trust. This is why building your brand’s authenticity is such a crucial part of attracting new customers and converting more leads.
In this article, we’ll identify your target audience, construct your brand tone, choose your brand pillars, and determine descriptive words to best define your personality. (Yes, your brand has a personality!)
Defining Your Target Audience
A target audience is the audience or readership of a business, advertisement, or other message catered specifically to said intended audience. Your audience is defined by age, gender, income, location, and interests, otherwise known as demographics and psychographics.
- What Are Demographics? Demographics are the characteristics of a population that have been categorized by distinct criteria—such as age, gender, and income. Examples of demographics include age, race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment.
- What Are Psychographics? Psychographics are the psychological and cognitive attributes of a consumer that reveal their beliefs, values, and goals. Examples of Psychographics include personality, hobbies, beliefs, behavior, lifestyle, social class, and interests.
Both of these play a part in characterizing your audience by defining attributes. As a business owner or marketer, understanding your target audience is vital. Knowing your audience will play a part in just about any business decision you make—from marketing to products and communications.
Building Brand Elements
While brand design is a focal point for many businesses getting started (and for good reason), brand voice is often overlooked. But both are equally important when creating a cohesive brand experience that leaves your audience wanting to return.
Defining Your Brand With Descriptive Words
In branding, descriptive words are a set of adjectives that convey your brand voice. These are not customer-facing and are only used to reference when writing or designing collateral.
For example, let’s say you’re creating a website. You have your brand archetype and mission statement down, but how exactly do you start writing the content on your site? You can reference your descriptive words to get inside the head of your brand. Based on your words, how would your brand sound? What is the message it would convey? Would it sound serious, light, or humorous?
Questions to Ask Yourself
If choosing descriptive words doesn’t come easily, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions to lead you in the right direction:
- When customers interact with my brand, I want them to feel ______.
- When I talk to my ideal customers, I want my tone of voice to be _________.
- When customers see my brand they think it is _________.
- If my brand were a person, they would be described as __________, __________, and _______.
Developing Your Voice
When most people think about voice, they imagine a spoken conversation. Angry, happy, surprised, and sad are all emotions that can be evoked from a conversation.
But when it comes to your brand, your voice is heard at every touchpoint you have with your customers. That includes everything from marketing materials to emails and phone conversations. These can be both written and vocalized touchpoints.
Tips for Developing Your Brand Voice
- Be consistent: When it comes to your branding, whether design or writing, consistency is key. You want the experience of your brand to carry over no matter what medium your customer finds you by. This means the messaging on your website should be cohesive with your social channels. That doesn’t mean it has to be identical, but remember that you shouldn’t be rethinking the wheel each time you create a new message.
- Identify customer-facing adjectives: While the internal descriptive words you chose can help you while writing, you can also identify customer-facing words to use in your messaging. These can be adjectives, a customer-facing mission statement, and anything else that can help you or the writers you’re working with to build on your voice.
- Grow and adapt: Just as any part of your content style, your voice will—and probably should—grow as your business does. It’s okay to adapt new tones and slowly refine your messaging until it feels just right. To quote Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” The same goes for branding.
Identifying Brand Content Pillars
Brand pillars are the values and characteristics that make up your brand. They should represent how you communicate your message to your audience by defining the fundamental points that set your company apart.
These themes, topics, buckets, or whatever you want to call them, give you strategic direction which you can use for your content marketing blog, website, or social channels. They provide a framework to stay within when it feels like there are a million directions you could go in.
What Are the Brand Pillar Categories?
Though every brand will have unique content pillars, there are a few categories that the best pillars fall within. These include purpose, perception, identity, values, and experience.
- Purpose: Purpose is closely related to your mission statement. It will answer questions like “Why did you start your company?” and “What are you hoping to achieve?“
- Perception: Perception is about how your customers perceive your brand. Write down characteristics or emotions that you’d like customers to associate with your brand. Reference your descriptive words if you get stuck.
- Identity: Identity is about who you are as a brand. It’s your personality and tone of voice. For example, “educational” or “brave.”
- Values: Your values are about communicating your position. What’s important to you as a company? How will you make a difference?
- Experience: Brand experience will help you promote your products or services. With so many options, customers will choose to buy from companies they like. This means you need to create an enjoyable experience that your audience can connect to.
How to Determine Your Brand Pillars
To determine your brand pillars, ask yourself a series of questions to come up with the top characteristics that you want to communicate. We’ll use the five pillar categories from the previous topic to inform your questions.
- Why did you start your company?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What value do you offer customers?
- What role do you play in your customer’s life?
- How does your audience perceive your values?
- What’s your brand’s personality?
- What tone of voice do you use in communication?
- How does your brand behave?
- What value do you want your audience to take from each interaction?
- What does your company value above all else?
- What kind of experience do you want customers to have?
- What makes your experience better or different from competitors?
- How do customers feel after interacting with your brand?
Content pillar example: Answering the above questions, Mind My Content’s brand pillars might look something like this:
- Purpose: Conscious
- Perception: Valuable
- Identity: Disruptive
- Values: Compassionate
- Experience: Reassuring