On the journey to creating an impactful brand, there are several steps. You’ve decided to define and create your brand, which is the most important first step. From there, you may have fleshed out your brand identity and perhaps you’ve started to consider your brand personality as well. But before you pat yourself on the back for a job completed, you need to develop your brand messaging.

What Is Brand Messaging?

MBASkool.com defines brand messaging as “every communication which makes a buyer relate to the brand by influencing them, motivating them and propelling them to buy the product.”

Brand messaging, simply put, is the language you use to speak to your audience and customers that sets you apart from your competitors and makes them relate to your brand in particular. It’s not your “slogan” (though a good slogan should take the brand message into account). Instead, brand messaging is everything you say to your (potential) customers from the copy on your website to the text of your ads and the small print on your packaging.

That’s all well and good, but how do you go about developing your brand messaging?

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Four Steps for Developing Your Brand Messaging

Step 1: Define what sets you apart from the competition

What’s your unique selling proposition? What makes you different than the other pencil sharpening companies out there? Are you solving a problem by sharpening pencils more quickly? Do you sharpen a pencil size that no one else does? Are you less expensive than other pencil sharpening companies?

For example: Zappos decided that it wasn’t going to sell different shoes than anyone else – but they would give customers the absolute best online shoe-buying experience.

When you find the answer to these questions, you’ll have the first step for your brand Messaging.

Step 2: Determine your target audience

You’re not going to be able to be everything to everyone. Instead, figure out who your audience already is (if you’re established) or who you want them to be. Think about what their values are and what they’re looking for in your product—are they looking to be inspired? Transformed? Helped?

For example: Barry’s Bootcamp bills itself as “the Best Workout in the World.” And yes, the people who patronize Barry’s are looking for just that, but they’re also in it for the community they become a part of. Barry’s is more than just a fitness studio--it’s a lifestyle brand. The company’s brand messaging illustrates this through all of its branded items, from weights to wine.

Once you figure out your ideal audience, you can determine a vocabulary that will speak to that audience.

Tip: Creating brand personas can help segment your audience so that you can tailor your brand messaging across different audiences.
Step 3: Set your goals

These are not your sales goals (though those are important). Instead, these goals are more closely tied to why you do what you do: your brand purpose. This purpose is another reason for your customers to choose you instead of a competitor - an emotional connection between you and your audience. By incorporating this ethos into your brand messaging, you’ll reinforce that message and show your company’s authenticity.

Step 4: Create your core brand message

Look at all of the data that you’ve gathered – the what (the elements that set you apart from competitors), the who (your target audience) and the why (the reason customers should choose you). Now, take these pieces and create a core brand message, one that integrates all of these ideas and communicates the values and key differentiators that set you apart. Got it? Good. This message will be used to build all the other messaging for your company.

A note about slogans and taglines: Your slogan and tagline may echo or match the words in your core brand message or they may take a different form. However, your core brand message and your tagline are two different things – your tagline is part of your brand messaging.

howtodevelop_2-1Implementing Your Brand Messaging

Now that you have your core brand message defined (and any secondary brand messages, too), it’s time to take them into the marketplace. From now on, your brand messaging should be cohesive and consistent across all of your channels and should dictate the tone, words, and phrases that you use on your website, in your advertising copy, on your packaging and even when speaking to the media. In order to maintain consistency, develop brand messaging guidelines and distribute them to your co-workers.

Creating your brand messaging can be a time-consuming process. However, it will save you time in the long run. Now that you have your brand messaging defined, your future content will flow much more smoothly. Writing a blog post? Refer to your brand messaging and you should find that the topics you cover, the tone you use and the overall impression that you generate will fall into place.

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Written by Katie Coakley More by this author Arrow