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June 14th, 2016

Your Brand Message—Don’t Just “Do It”

Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if you’re getting your brand message right.

How do you talk about your brand? Or do you just talk about your business, products, and services?

What is written about your brand? In your collateral. On your web site. On social media. On the walls of your factory and offices.

What are the visual expressions of your brand? Through your logo and color palette. On your web site. Photography, typography, and graphic design.

Now put it all together and ask:

What message is your brand sending? And to whom?

Is it the right one?

Is it consistently exposing your audience to the position you want it to own in their mind? That unique position of value that only your brand can deliver?

Can you put yourself in your customers’ shoes—really harness your powers of empathy—and still award your brand’s message 5 stars?

Getting the answers right means getting your brand right.

Developing and honing a brand message is complex. The task requires discipline, process, creativity, and leadership.

Don’t hand off this critical task to your marketing manager, but rather appoint an executive stakeholder group. They should start with the foundation document that describes your brand. You know, that treasured tome you keep under lock and key.  But you might ask them to read this first to help inform their point of view.

Ask the group to revisit every directive in your brand foundation and test all current expressions of your brand against it—why and how to do that.

Request a thorough competitive audit. What are other brands in your arena saying or claiming as their own? Next, look at your customers. Who are they and what are they really looking for from you? Your brand and the experiences associated with it are felt by customers at every touchpoint. Get your team to look at all the messages being conveyed.

Compare all of your answers to your current brand foundation.

If your brand has a formal brand purpose (the “why” of your brand) and is built on a set of accurate brand pillars (characteristics that together create your unique brand position) then your basic brand foundation is probably strong.

So far so good. Now it’s time to clinically evaluate your brand promise and reassess your brand value proposition for each key customer group.

Once assessed, and redefined if needed, these brand value propositions will become the basis for your brand message. Each describes the prioritized elements of value you bring to your customers—as they perceive that value. This perception must be both objective and well researched, otherwise you could miss the mark.

So now the really big question. How on earth do you take all this information and boil it down to a succinct, easily understood, creatively expressed message? And, by the way, let’s be sure to make it interesting, engaging, and impactful.

Roll up your sleeves.

As the saying goes, “nothing to it, but to do it.” First, gather and categorize the types of messages you need or currently use. Everything from a tagline or slogan, to a website About Us page, to sales presentations, proposals, and quotes, to the story you tell.

Consider all the messages. Each should tie together and present a cohesive whole—an overall brand message that is consistent and meaningful and conveys your unique position of value.

You will end up with a messaging system that provides you with options and choices—from long form to short form, from elevator pitch to TED Talk.

NOTE: Your brand undoubtedly has a set of visual graphic standards—rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts—so it only makes sense that you should also have a verbal directive, to guide everyone responsible for talking or writing about your brand. The two of these should be completely in sync.

Yes, developing and honing a brand message is a complex task, but a worthy undertaking to protect and build value into one of your most important assets.

As effortless as they may look, great brand messages don’t just happen. They’re the result of discipline, process, creativity, and leadership.

For inspiration, here are examples of how that can pay off, because as simple as they seem, these short phrases are at the heart of every experience these brands create:

Just Do It
Think Different
Imagination At Work
You’re In Good Hands
Above and Beyond
It’s Finger Lickin’ Good
American By Birth. Rebel By Choice.
The Happiest Place On Earth
Taste The Feeling …. Although I personally prefer “Open Happiness”

So, get your brand message right. Don’t just do it!

GOOD LUCK!

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