Does your brand convey a strong, clear message to your audience?
Brand messaging—and the strategic brand positioning that supports it—is a critical element of effective PR. It’s so important that I like to begin each new client engagement with a dedicated brand messaging workshop.
A solid brand message lays the foundation for the story you tell and helps position your company for ongoing growth and success.
Your brand can be most effective when you crystallize your brand messaging and document it in one place. Having a go-to document establishes a reference point for campaigns, events, pitches, and all other PR and marketing initiatives.
But how do you know if it’s time to reassess your brand message? And where do you even begin?
Why Reassess Brand Positioning and Messaging?
Even when companies already have an established brand, there’s often an internal disconnect regarding what the brand is. . . and isn’t. Believe it or not, I’ve worked with companies where each member of senior management presents a different elevator pitch!
The message they’ve internalized may be true to them or the sector they work in, but it’s not fully aligned with what the owner or CEO wants to convey about the brand.
Reassessing brand positioning and messaging helps align those disparate messages into one cohesive story so that everyone communicates about the brand in the same way.
When in doubt, the ideal time to reassess brand messaging is when there has been some kind of change:
Your company has evolved. Have you added (or removed) products or services that may be confusing to your customers? Many brands have undergone changes due to the pandemic. If your focus has shifted post-COVID or you’ve created new revenue streams, that’s a clear sign your company has evolved.
Your customers’ needs have evolved. Customer behaviors have also changed quite a bit over the last year and a half. Online shopping, for example, has grown exponentially, as well as food delivery service and curbside pick-up. Even in a post-COVID world, many of these new behaviors are here to stay. It’s important to let your customers know that you’re here to serve them in this new normal.
Your customers’ needs may also be entirely unrelated to the pandemic. Perhaps you’re trying to reach a new customer base, in which case you’ll need brand messaging that speaks to them directly.
You need a refresh to keep up with the competition. Brands are anything but static. They must be dynamic enough to shift along with the changing times. If you notice your competition taking up the space you once occupied, it’s probably time to freshen up your messaging.
Reinvention can be scary, but more often than not it’s worth the effort. Take the brand Coach, for example. For decades, they were the go-to shop for an iconic logo bag. Then, over the past decade, brand fatigue set in. Recently, they’ve made a comeback with a new line of handbags designed for the Gen Z aesthetic—with updated messaging and spokespeople to match!
How to Create a Strong Brand Message
When you’re ready to reassess your brand messaging, here’s how to evaluate your brand and get on the right track:
Redefine your brand personality.
What are the key elements that define your brand? Maybe you take pride in having exceptionally skilled employees or offering customers a premium experience. Flesh out your core messaging by asking yourself why what you do matters.
You may also find it helpful to survey your customers and learn how they perceive your brand. If you see your brand as innovative and fun and your audience doesn’t, that signifies a big disconnect. Knowing what your audience is thinking can be an invaluable tool when you’re updating your branding.
Review your current offerings and distinguish areas for growth.
I always ask my clients to imagine where they see their brand in 3 years. Then we compare that vision to where their company is right now and map out how they can get from Point A to Point B.
What are your current offerings, and do you plan to expand them in the near future? Set achievable goals for how you want to grow your business in 6 months, 1 year, and so on. In the meantime, make sure your audience knows about all the products or services you already do offer.
Revisit your audience.
Any time you shift the tone of your brand or update your offerings, it’s smart to revisit your audience. Are your target customers still the same, or did your demographic widen? You may have the opportunity to reach an entirely new group of people now—and your brand messaging should reflect that.
Position your brand competitively.
In today’s digital world, people are inundated with products and services all day long. It’s important to stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition. Why should customers choose you? Your messaging must clearly communicate the unique value you add to their lives.
Recreate guidelines for brand messaging.
Once you’ve updated your brand messaging, create guidelines to control the consistency of the messaging internally and externally. Do you need to update your tagline? What adjectives would you use to describe the tone of your brand? Be as thorough and specific as possible—and document everything! These guidelines will serve as the foundation for your marketing and PR initiatives.
With these new guidelines in place, it’s time to evaluate your marketing assets. Does your logo need to incorporate your updated tagline? Do the images you’re using evoke the right feeling you want to convey to customers? Don’t forget to update your press kit while you’re at it [link to Why You Need a Press Kit and What to Include]!
A strong brand message is the bedrock of good marketing and PR. So why not let a professional guide you? Reach out to learn more about how brand messaging can position your company for growth and success.