The Best Brand Messaging Frameworks to Help You Get It Right



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15 min


27 October, 2020

Brand messaging isn’t simply those arm-twisting, automated texts you get from Domino’s on a Friday night (every. Friday. night.)

In simple terms:

Your brand messaging is what you’re trying to communicate to your audience to sell your product or service, and how you communicate it to them.

Let that be one of, if not the major takeaway of this post.

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As the title suggests, our goal in this post is to help you nail your brand messaging, giving your brand a clear and consistent voice capable of shouting your company from the rooftops to your ideal customer base.

We’ll also be helping you better understand what a brand messaging framework is, generally, as the term is often met with confusion amongst marketers, founders, and business people alike.

Now, let’s get going!

What is Brand Messaging?

Brand messaging is the way your brand communicates its value and personality through verbal and non-verbal messaging.

It’s the call to your customer’s response, and something that requires a lot of thought from the relevant individuals within an organisation (for obvious reasons).

Brand Messaging can include:

  • Your company name
  • Slogans or taglines
  • The copy on your website
  • Your social media posts
  • Infographics
  • Adverts
  • Any written correspondence from your brand
  • How your staff greet customers

And your brand messaging serves to:

  • Communicate your brand values and beliefs
  • Promote your product or service to a customer in a compelling way.

compass in the woods

What is a Brand Messaging Framework?

Brand messaging frameworks can also go by the names of brand messaging structure, or communication guidelines. But whatever you want to call it, it’s fundamental to get a strong framework in place before you start to roll out your brand messaging.

Your brand messaging framework is a structured representation of the service that your brand provides. This structure then forms a guide, which acts as a North Star for your content creation, marketing, and branding.

By using a brand messaging framework this way, you know that all of the words and phrases used in your branding, and everything that your company is communicating to people, adheres to your core messages.

Every statement has a point and a purpose behind it, it isn’t simply being spoken into the wind.

Essentially, your brand messaging should build your brand, using words rather than visuals. Remember, consistency is key to building a stand out brand!

man thinking at desk

Why is Brand Messaging Important?

Your brand messaging speaks volumes about your brand identity (and business brand as a whole), and nailing the correct brand messaging is the difference between super strengthening your branding, or going off-piste and letting it crumble.

Your brand messaging establishes the credibility of your brand, both with your target audience and also in the market place you operate out of.

You will have spent a long time working on your brand strategy, and your brand messaging should successfully communicate all the elements that you decided on when creating your brand strategy document.

If you’re charging high end prices and providing a luxury service, but your staff are greeting customers via email with a “Yo dude!” – this can create a negative and unprofessional impression from the start.

If you were getting in touch with say, Topman or BrewDog, being greeted this way probably wouldn’t be a problem.

But if you’re getting in touch with Harrods, you would expect a higher level of service with a more formal approach from the customer service assistant.

Price point shouldn’t dictate your brand messaging. Yes, it can reflect that, but it’s not what this is all about.

Let’s flip this example on it’s head.

A Successful Brand Messaging Example

First things first, read the room. It’s important to remember if your customers would respond well to your proposed approach.

If you are on the higher end of the pricing scale but your target audience is slightly younger, this gives you the flexibility to train staff to offer a high end service while maintaining a laid back, conversational approach.

A great example of this is the Ace Hotel brand. They are a pretty high-end hotel, in trendy areas of cosmopolitan cities around the world.

For the prices they charge for their rooms and suites, you may expect the classic stuffy hotel experience, with a suited and booted doorman.

But this isn’t inline with Ace Hotel’s brand strategy and brand messaging framework.

Their tagline is ‘A friendly place’. The typography they use is very industrial and their whole concept is very ‘no frills’ and… Kind of hipster.

The language they use on their website is creative, easy going and unceremonious. The hotel doormen wear on-trend bomber jackets. Their reception staff greet you with an informal tone, probably look like they’re a member of a band, but regardless of this, they tailor the entire experience so that you never question if you’re still getting a high end city hotel treatment.

You are, but it’s just way cooler, and designed to appeal to their target audience of millennials who would relate and respond well to this.

Their understated and laid back brand messaging, with a large price tag, is a bold move that totally sets the Ace Hotel apart from others in the marketplace. It compliments their website and social media presence, the whole brand aesthetic.

It’s clearly a deliberate and thoroughly thought through move on their part, and it totally appeals to their target market.

Well played, Ace!

two paths leading into a forest

How Do I Decide On My Brand Messaging?

Your brand messaging covers everything from your website and advertising copy and industry pitches, to how your staff greet your customers on the telephone or sign off on emails.

Making a strong decision on the direction that your brand messaging is going to take is essential.

Brand messaging is the difference between greeting customers with a ‘Hey there!’ or a ‘Good morning’ when they walk into your workspace, or pick up the phone.

First impressions are everything.

These separate factors may seem insignificant. It may feel enough that staff are polite to customers when they get in touch, but every brand touchpoint a customer comes across builds up a picture of your brand in the eye of the customer.

Cross reference your touchpoints. Does your website ‘about us’ page fit in-line with your company slogan? Could the copy be tweaked to reflect this even more?

The devil is in the detail with this stuff, and as a branding agency, we find ourselves spending longer than we would like to admit mulling over whether un-capitalising the first letter at the start of a sentence on a website will enhance their brand messaging or not.

When you come to determine your brand messaging framework, you should be at a point where you have already nailed your brand values, brand strategy, your target audience, your positioning against your competitors.

If you aren’t at this point yet, go back and get started on those first.

Your findings from these will give you the best springboard on where to head with your brand messaging.

2 neon hands shaking

What Should my Brand Messaging Include?

Your brand messaging shouldn’t be limited to the points below.

It’s glaringly obvious when brand messaging solely consists of a constant sales pitch. And can become off-putting to your customers.

Sure, this is the whole point of it. To sell. But sell in a way that has people knocking on your door, because they’re already bought in.

Making an effort to say more than simply ‘Buy this!’ “Use us!’ will always pay off.

It builds up a relationship and a narrative with your customers and when it’s done right, your brand messaging can accelerate your marketing campaigns, and totally smash your competition out the park.

If it suits your brand then go ahead and chat, or if you are keeping a more formal narrative, consider sharing industry news and events via your social media.

Whatever you’re saying, it’s important to send each message out with a purpose behind it:

  • Are you trying to build up a relationship with your customers?
  • Are you trying to start conversations with other brands in your industry?
  • Are you trying to educate and share information?
  • Are you trying to gain more brand awareness?

When you’re thinking about where you want to go with your brand messaging, it’s important to keep in mind what you’re trying to communicate in the first place. Think:

What makes our brand unique?

Go back to your findings from completing your brand competitor analysis and remember the points you wrote down that set you apart from your competition.

What processes and methods do we use?

So how do you go about doing what you do? Are you using time tested, traditional methods or do you use methods that are a little more unconventional?

What proprietary systems and techniques do we use?

Do you have a brand specific system? A technique that is unique to you guys only?

What is our culture and brand philosophy?

Think, what is truly at the heart of your business?

If your brand USP is that you’re an environmentally friendly and sustainable brand, it’s super important and beneficial to weave this into every part of your brand messaging. Now customers will know what you’re about!

Having a relaxed tone that invites people in is more attractive to get people on board with a good cause than a heavy handed approach.

Think of forceful volunteers trying to get you to sign up to something you have no idea about on Oxford Street. Passers by desperately trying to avoid catching their eye.

Now, we know these people are just doing their job like anyone else, we’re not having a go at them. But the company they work for has implemented a totally outdated, robotic sales pitch and trained them to not take no for an answer.

There is no conversation, or relationship building. You don’t necessarily want to sign up, but you feel that you have to because they make you feel like a bad person for not doing so, or you feel that’s your only way out of the conversation.

This is part of their brand messaging strategy.

It’s a pretty terrible approach to try and get someone on board with your company, and not one that we would recommend implementing into your own strategy.

You may have lots of ideas and inspiration in your head of how you want to communicate your brand messaging. But first, think carefully into how you wouldn’t like to be spoken to, sold to, coaxed.

This is a good point to start from when thinking into how you are going to implement your brand messaging. It sets boundaries and helps to keep things focussed.

Your brand messaging will be the foundation for your sales pitches, your website copy, your published offline communications, your social media posts.

How you tell that story is key. We understand that not everyone has the time, skill or natural tendency to put the right words together in a way that resonates with their target audience.

Struggling to find the words?

We recommend working with a branding agency who provides specialist content creation and copywriting services.

glass metal framework

Why is Creating A Brand Messaging Framework Important?

It’s important to have a brand messaging framework in place, as you may have multiple content creators within your organisation (if you don’t right now – you might do in future!), and you need to ensure that the story your brand is telling, and how it’s being told, is consistent.

Deciding on a way to communicate your brand message in a consistent manner over all of your brand touchpoints is key.

You may have someone working on your blog and web copy, and another person working on your social media. Both of these people need to be singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak, in alignment with each other.

But having a brand messaging framework in place is essential, whether you have an in house content team or you are working with an agency.

A strong, easy to comprehend brand messaging framework will mean that anyone who is stepping in and working on your content will be able to pick it up easily. This means a lot less trial and error, and more chance of projects getting signed off first time.

One way you can help to implement your brand messaging framework is to document company brand messaging.

Creating blog and social media style guides that your staff can refer back to, with any major do’s or don’ts that you’re keen to implement in your communications.

For example:

A great brand messaging framework accurately articulates your brand values, brand story, brand positioning, and will trigger your target audience into using your company’s services.

Levi’s brand messaging is bang on.

“Quality never goes out of style.”

This tagline is relatively simple, but it emphasises the quality of Levi’s products, note that quality is the first word that they use, while declaring them timeless.

Their brand messaging totally encompasses everything that the brand is about.

They have a blog called ‘Off The Cuff’, a clever nod to their products and the content. Their blog posts use confident, strong language for styling and customising tips for Levi’s old and new, mixed with relevant industry news.

They totally engage their target audience through their brand messaging, and this is why the 160+ year old brand has stood the test of time.

snooker ball on table

Why Are Brand Messaging Objectives Important?

The very definition of the word objective is ‘a thing aimed at or sought; a goal.’ If you are making a move in business without a goal – why are you wasting your time?

You may think some parts of brand messaging are small and insignificant, but each thing you do with your branding is a business move.

Consider each action, each social media post, each time you speak to a customer over the phone, as business moves with an objective and you will see your brand strengthen.

Making sure that each message that you put out is there with a purpose. Is this trying to sell to a customer, are we promoting a deal, are we trying to raise brand awareness and get the name out there, are we trying to inject some personality to strengthen brand identity?

Creating a brand messaging framework will help you hit the objective that you are aiming for.

Brand Messaging FAQs

That’s quite a lot of info, we should probably recap a few things through some FAQs before we get into how you create a brand messaging framework.

  • What is a brand messaging hierarchy?

    The brand messaging hierarchy is essentially the pillars framework that we touched on in the blog.

    Visually, most like to structure this as a sort of pyramid, with each level representing something different:

    • Brand Promise
    • Positioning Statement
    • Value Proposition
    • Value Description
    • Key Messaging
    • Proof Points
  • What is the best example of a brand message?

    One that instantly comes to mind is Nike’s “Just do it” tagline and Slack’s “Great teamwork starts with a digital HQ.”

    Both statements relay the values to customers and are a constant reminder of the quality they possess.

  • People also ask: Are brand messaging workshops helpful?

    They are to an extent, depending on the workshop you choose.

    From what we’ve seen, most of these workshops are group led, which does make it difficult to get any concrete one-on-one feedback or guidance.

    Our advice would be to download our brand strategy doc. It’s just as helpful as a brand messaging workshop (if not more), is easy to follow, and doesn’t cost you a thing!

So How Do I Create A Brand Messaging Framework?

Ok, so we have a couple of methods we recommend to create an awesome brand messaging framework.

The Pillars Strategy

Let’s start with creating some brand pillars.

These pillars must support each other, and hold the weight of your statements up with proof.

These are 3 major themes, benefits, or selling points that make your company unique. Now add 3 supporting items underneath each of these, to validate your initial points.

Finalise the pillars you’ve created. Now, start to refine your messaging by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Does each tier of the pillar support the next?
  • Are there opportunities to cut, condense, or inject more emotion?
  • Are the benefits your company brings clear and consistent?

Along with coming up with your brand messaging framework, another great benefit of this exercise is that once you’ve refined your messaging down to 3 key talking points, it’ll help you to establish phrases, slogans and keywords that you can then use across your entire marketing strategy.

The “So That” Strategy

Forget everything we just worked on in the Pillar Strategy, this is a totally different way of creating your brand messaging framework.

The “So That” strategy focuses on connecting two thoughts together using “so that…” to bring a direct benefit to your customer. Think a chain reaction of events, because of your service.

First, you talk about something your company does, then immediately discuss a direct benefit of that thing.

Here, you’re looking to create 3 to 5 great “so that” sentences related to your brand and it’s messaging.

Something that your company does or offers > So that… > Direct benefit to your customer

Once you’ve nailed these 5 statements, you’ve got a whole range of Brand Messaging on the table.

XYZ Method

The essential step in creating your brand messaging framework is to craft your value position.

This statement will be the cornerstone for a lot of your brand materials, directly (e.g. on your website homepage) or indirectly (e.g. through blog articles and other marketing materials.)

The easiest way to do this, is to use Steve Blank’s XYZ method.

Fill in the blanks.

We help [X] do [Y] by doing [Z]

It doesn’t have to be simply adding one word into each blank. Use the structure, but make it your own – and remember that this is still only a single sentence.

That was quicker than you thought, wasn’t it?

person using LinkedIn on their iPhone

The Best Brand Messaging Framework to Help You Get It Right

Brand messaging covers every part of your branding that uses language. The trick to this is to start seeing every time you use language in business as a chance to strengthen your brand message.

From social media, to PR, and print advertising, you can use your brand messaging framework throughout- you can even use brand messaging in your annual report!

Knowing that we’ve had a tangible impact on the businesses we encounter – both old and new – is one of the main reasons why we do what we do here at Canny. We’re a creative marketing agency with a lot of experience in getting results for our clients.

It’s why we know a thing or two about brand messaging frameworks; we’ve helped many brands find their voice over the years.

With that said, if you’ve found any of this helpful, or have used one of the above messaging frameworks because of us, please, do let us know. Also, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like us to sharpen other areas of your brand.

Oh, and before we go, if you’d like to flesh out your brand identity through different frameworks, know that we have a blog on that too!

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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