Do you know the old saying “consistency is key”? Consider that your mantra for creating a cohesive brand message. I think back to my first ad agency job, my boss constantly yelled at me for not being consistent. The thing is he was right, not for yelling at me, but for pushing me to be consistent.
When you dive into discovering your business’s main messaging, remaining consistent throughout the process will help you feel confident when creating something like website content or social media graphics. Every little variance in design along the way can snowball into an identity that is uncohesive and unprofessional.
How to Build a Brand Message
“Brand” is a word that gets tossed around a lot in the marketing world, and it’s used in a handful of different contexts. When I say “create a branding message,” I’m talking about the overall branding process, not limited to creating a brand identity.
Brand identity is everything tangible or visual about your business: your website design, your logo, your colors, storefront sign and even your company vehicles. This often gets mixed up with branding because we’re made to think that our brands are just what we can see. This isn’t the complete story.
Branding is the process of building your brand. It’s made up of all the intangible and tangible assets that make up the “life” of your business. It encompasses:
- Your website
- Your physical location (storefront, office, etc.)
- Your print materials & packaging
- Your content & its accompanying voice (blogging, social media, web copy)
- Your employees & business practices (sales, marketing, customer service)
- Your company values
Your brand messaging must take into account all of the above – it’s an expression of the intangible aspects of your business. But it’s no secret that building your brand takes time. That’s okay – the return on investment or ROI outweighs the effort, especially if you’re investing in doing things the right way.
Brand Building 101
Step 1: Research & Buyer Personas
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: defining your buyer personas is essential to building your brand. Much of the research you should be doing as you build your brand message is focused on whose pain points your products and services solve. Who is searching for what you offer? What sets you apart from your competitors?
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal target audience or customer. You may have more than one buyer persona because different people look to become your customer for different reasons. 82% of companies with better value propositions (in effect, a reason why a customer would choose you over someone else) have well-defined buyer personas. Consider this one of the first steps to building your brand – because if you don’t know your target audience inside and out, you won’t know what type of message will best convince them to choose you.
HubSpot has a good Make My Persona tool to help you get started.
Step 2: Clarify Your Brand Strategy
Your brand strategy is the answer to how you will use the research you did in step one. A brand strategy is a collection of all the intangibles that make up “branding.” Having a cohesive brand strategy will help you not only define an overall brand and marketing message but also how you can apply it in the real world. It is not a marketing strategy. Instead, your brand strategy is:
- Brand values: what your brand stands for and can get behind
- Your value prop: the promises that your brand makes to your customers
- The voice and personality of your brand: your brand’s communication style in marketing
This part of building your brand message is more qualitative and will take some creativity and empathy. Customers aren’t always rational, so the more human you can make your interactions with customers, the better. Businesses that operate with empathy are more approachable for customers. This is one of the reasons I chose to start this personal site of mine, I find one-on-one connections to be more authentic as opposed to hiding behind an agency.
Step 3: Establish Your Brand Guidelines
Establishing the parameters of your brand is the tangible kind of branding I mentioned earlier. When you’re creating your brand guidelines, take into account creating consistency among the following:
- Your logo
- Your brand colors
- Your fonts
- Your taglines
- Your imagery
Don’t fall into the trap of making your brand guidelines vague enough to “cheat” on. Be as specific as possible. Whether you deal with multi-million dollar corporations or local businesses, define your guidelines and set them in stone.
While research, brand strategy, and creating brand guidelines are all essential parts of crafting a cohesive brand message, working out how to package those into your marketing strategy is tricky. If your company needs a little marketing boost, subscribe to my blog or contact me for a consultation today.