Think of some of your favorite big-name brands. Nike, Peloton, Yeti—what do they all have in common? Their messaging strategy. Yes, their messages are each unique to their brand and products, but each one establishes the aspiration of their audience. The desire to “Just Do It,” “Go Farther Together” or be “Built for the Wild.”
Now imagine a company you’ve never heard or interacted with trying to communicate those exact same messages. You’d probably scroll right past them. The brand doesn’t have enough notoriety for you to immediately understand what it’s selling, so you’re unlikely to trust them. But if they told you they sell “Comfortable performance shoes,” “Your in-home training solution” or “Expertly insulated travel mugs,” then you might be interested.
This is how messaging strategy benefits your brand. It reflects where you are now and creates room to change as you grow. Your strategy is how you communicate value to your audience, so it’s important to think it through. This article can serve as your helpful guide for understanding exactly why a messaging strategy is important, what elements go into it and how it helps you build your brand.
Why Messaging Strategy Is Important
Your messaging is the type of communication you use with your target audience. Your strategy focuses on the problem you’re solving for that audience. Put the two together and you get your brand messaging strategy, which communicates the value of your brand and services. It’s important to establish your strategy before you start writing because messaging plays a few integral roles in your overall brand strategy.
Establishes Clarity and Focus
First and foremost, your messaging describes exactly what you do and why people should care. This brings clarity to your brand and helps ensure no one is left wondering what you offer after reading your copy.
It also determines the angle of your messaging. You might decide to frame yourself by emphasizing where you stand in the market, reflecting your brand positioning statement, differentiating your tone and personality or comparing yourself to competitors. Deciding on the best angle helps you create a central focus for messaging that will carry across copy on every web page and platform.
Take Carvana, for example. Their tagline is “Buy and Finance Used Cars Online.” It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it leaves nothing to the imagination. It also positions the brand to capitalize on the “do-it-yourself” attitude of young car buyers by emphasizing the online aspect. When you visit their website, there’s a range of options and services to choose from, but you know it all comes back to one thing: buying cars online.
Supports Your Brand
Your messaging strategy exists to support your brand in its current state, whether that’s a new startup or a legacy enterprise. How you describe your products and services to clients builds momentum now and paves the way for future growth by creating trust in your brand.
A great example of this is when 7-Up joined the soda scene as a new brand. Coca-Cola was dominating the market with emotional messaging that associated joy and fun with its product. So 7-Up leveraged its messaging strategy to match its positioning, both internally and in the market. They became the “uncola cola;” soda for people who don’t like cola.
Now, 7-Up is right up there with Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Everyone knows their name and what their product is so they shifted to that big brand aspirational messaging we talked about earlier with the tagline: “Be yourself. Be refreshing.”
Your strategy also helps you maintain continuity throughout your brand. It establishes the key message you’re trying to convey that should be in all of your marketing materials. Your social media should convey the same message as each piece of content, product page, email and so on throughout your brand.
Consistent messaging provides clarity and better resonates with your audience. It creates confidence in your brand story, which helps people identify with and trust your brand. Without a strategy, you risk losing the common thread among all your marketing efforts.
A great brand to look at for continuity is Oatly. They were at the forefront of the plant-based milk market swell and their messaging depicts the strong opinions of the brand — “It’s like milk, but made for humans.” Everything from their web copy to their product descriptions to their packaging features the same fun, satirical tone as their tagline. This consistency is what ties the brand together and creates loyal customers who agree with the company values.
Makes Optimal Accessible
Strategic messaging is only as effective as the approach you take to it. When you work through the process of creating a messaging strategy, you have the opportunity to look at your marketing message from a number of angles. You can evaluate different approaches and find the optimal option that will create the highest amount of value and interest in your brand.
Consider AllState’s “Mayhem” campaign. There are hundreds of different ways insurance companies can communicate their value, and most of them are demonstrated in the market. Protecting your family, peace of mind, you name it. But AllState decided to approach fear of the unknown a different way—by personifying mayhem.
This strategy works two ways: First, it shows that all those little things we think will never happen to us, do happen every day. Second, it points to situations you probably didn’t even think to worry about, like your cat flooding the upstairs bathroom. It set AllState apart from the competition by showing their coverage goes above and beyond the competitors to “protect you from mayhem.”
Elements of an Effective Messaging Strategy
The foundation of a messaging strategy is your brand positioning. Your messaging should perfectly reflect your positioning strategy so you can effectively communicate the value of your brand. At Lone Fir Creative, we use the StoryBrand messaging framework to guide this process.
There are three main elements to every messaging strategy: the problem, the solution and the result. When combined correctly, these three things will create the clarity you need to start growing your brand.
This is where you establish the problem or pain points your ideal customer is experiencing. How does it impact their lives? Do they know this problem exists? Are they actively searching for solutions? Addressing what’s keeping your audience from thriving can help you create an emotional connection and offer yourself as a guide to a better way of life.
Next you establish how you can meet your customer’s needs. This is more than just a selling point; it’s showing your audience that their life will be better with your product or service. It’s your opportunity to educate people about the details of your brand and exactly how this solution will address their specific problem. Clarity is king in this stage of messaging.
It’s important to note that the problem and solution should mirror each other. If you establish the problem is too much dust clinging to their broom bristles, then your solution should focus on how your broom doesn’t hold onto dirt. That direct connection is what makes impactful messaging.
This is where you get to paint the picture of how wonderful life is with your brand. Show customers how great their life will be when they don’t have to spend time pulling hair and dust out of their broom bristles. They’ll have time to do all the other important things around the house without rousing their allergies. Focus on tangible results to help make the result feel more realistic and attainable.
As you craft these three sections of your messaging, you’ll have to keep your overall marketing strategy in mind. Finding the right message is all about balancing relevance and differentiation. Your message needs to resonate with your target audience but be different enough to get noticed.
Just like with a marketing strategy, there are multiple ways you can measure the success of your messaging. You might look at sales numbers, lead conversions or touchpoints to monitor and find quantitative indicators. But when measuring the success of something as iterative as messaging, you really want to ask a single question:
Are people seeing value in my brand?
As soon as you create and publish your messaging, you can start looking for the answer to this question. Typically, it will appear as signs of friction. When there are certain friction points between your brand and your buyers, then you know there’s a misunderstanding somewhere in your message. Some questions that demonstrate friction include:
- “What do you do?”
- “How are you different from competitors?”
- “Why should I buy from you?”
If you’re hearing these questions from customers, then you need to look at your messaging again to ensure it clearly conveys the value and uniqueness of your brand.
Tips for Building Your Messaging Strategy
Know Where You’re Going
The very first step to creating an effective messaging strategy is to brainstorm what your brand’s goal is and what you need to accomplish internally to reach it. This will help you create messaging that fits where your brand is now, which will build traction to get you where you want to go.
For example, if your struggle is that your market is dense with competitors, then you’ll need to focus on what makes you different. If your trouble is rising prices in your industry, then you can highlight your value proposition and the return on investment your product gives customers.
Keep It Simple
Once you’ve established what your audience’s problem is, you can speak directly to it. The key is to keep it simple. Focus on the heart of the problem instead of all the frustrating elements surrounding it and be incredibly clear about how you kill the plant at the roots. That is, eliminate the problem which in turn gets rid of all the extra annoyances.
To communicate this concisely, you need a deep understanding of your brand and how it relates to your buyer personas. Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, offers some helpful questions you can ask yourself to figure this out:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why does it matter?
The simpler your message is the easier it will be for people to understand and identify with your brand.
Consider Your Options
Perhaps the most important tip for creating a messaging strategy is to consider all your options. Finding the optimal approach takes time and collaboration. Pull in your marketing team, sales team, copywriters and any other department that might have an idea of how to approach your messaging.
Challenge yourself to look at your strategy from at least five different angles before choosing your direction. Looking at different perspectives might open doors or give you ideas that you hadn’t considered before. You might also realize that your first thought isn’t actually the best way to differentiate yourself.
After you’ve chosen the direction you want to take, take the time to think your strategy all the way through before you start writing. When you consider the full journey of your customers through your messaging, it makes writing compelling copy that much easier. You can more effectively target their problem, explain your solution and show them the result of partnering with your brand.
Here to Help You Grow
Figuring out your messaging strategy is a big deal. It takes deep thought, careful consideration and well-crafted statements to accurately portray the value of your brand to customers. Our goal as a brand and marketing agency is to help our clients grow, and messaging is a big part of that. So if you have questions about how to clarify your messaging or want to start crafting a strategy, give us a call. We’d love to help!