For as long as people have communicated, we’ve had messaging. Many of the most well-known messengers are religious figures — the usual suspects like Moses, Muhammad, and Jesus. In business, messaging has always been part of some corporate function like marketing, communications, or investor relations. Messaging is not going away. What’s changed is the way we communicate. We and other agencies have for years delivered messaging in a one-page, multilevel framework. While still useful, these one-page grids are no longer valuable tools on their own.
So we’re evolving.
Our clients are willing to take more risks than ever before. They want their messaging to sound conversational and reflect their brand’s personality. It must appeal to very short attention spans. And the messaging we provide must be useful from day one.
If the client puts our messaging in a drawer at the end of a project, we’ve failed.
Strategic messaging is the scaffolding for all future communications. What we deliver to clients starts with a positioning statement — a one-sentence description of the part of the market a company owns and — and, often, a value proposition. These ideas are foundational and never shared externally. The rest of what we deliver, though, clients put in action right away.
We write 10-, 50-, and 100-word versions of a company’s strategic message. Often, we also incorporate this content into a narrative that can run anywhere from 1–2 pages (think of that as a story of your business and why you matter.) In some cases, we add a manifesto that acts as a declaration or proclamation which energizes your employees and customers. More messages, more formats, more impact.
Corporate messaging isn’t as clean as it used to be. Today, product and brand lines blur, which means messaging isn’t just about your brand/company’s value proposition. This kind of messaging can’t come from the strategy or the communications department alone. Instead, it combines ideas from marketing, product development, and the executives’ vision. Even so, strategic messaging doesn’t read like a product brochure. Rather, it describes both why a company does what they do and how they do it.
Remember that messaging hierarchy we mentioned? It keeps messaging consistent and consistency drives relevance, awareness, and action. When you always return to that multileveled framework, you go to market with a consistent story. No matter the touchpoint, your audiences hear the same thing.
Often we come into a company to develop brand level messaging when corporate messaging is already complete. We adhere to the existing core messages so that what we create doesn’t live in a vacuum but, instead, part of a greater narrative.
Your customers and your employees don’t have the same role in helping you achieve your strategy, so why talk to them in the same way? Once we’ve crafted general messaging, we also develop content tailored to specific audiences. But that’s just a starting point. Increasingly, we are pushing our clients to think about who they don’t want to attract. This can be tough because no one wants to limit their ambitions. However, we’ve seen that the more companies narrow their target, the more successful they are in attracting the people they really want. Once they connect with customers where product-market fit is strongest, they can expand.
Strategic messaging is worthless if it doesn’t help you drive revenue, increase profits, or become a bigger player in your industry. That’s why we don’t take our clients’ strategy as a given. We’ve found that the process of crafting strategic messaging is as important as the final deliverable. We make sure we build alignment around the strategy before ever move on with messaging.
We always focus first on a company’s business goals. We bring in sales and product management, not just marketing, into the discussion. Sales helps us understand the customer pain points while product management gives us an understanding of the direction of the product line.
It’s not just important what we write but how we say it. We use simple, clear language so that everyone can understand and share it. This means words that audiences will remember and connect with easily. We leverage the voice of the brand to write messaging that brings to life how your brands want to make people feel. With strategic messaging in place, your brand is ready to live, talk, and engage with the people who matter most to your business.
Emotive Brand is always keen to keep pace with the needs of business. Positioning and messaging is something we take seriously. If you need help crafting your strategic messaging, give us a shout. If you have different opinions on what is required to develop strategic messaging, leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency.
Originally published at www.emotivebrand.com on April 17, 2018.
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