Developing A Brand Messaging Guide
Generally, when people think of the term branding - images of logos, colors, and fonts come to mind, but your brand is more than how it looks. It’s how it speaks. It’s the emotions that are evoked. It’s the words that create an experience. While visual branding does the work of grabbing your audience’s attention - your brand messaging is what compels your audience to stick around.
Creating a brand messaging guide is an essential document to help keep your messaging on brand and help your team effectively communicate with your target audience. It’s another avenue to deliver value. With an abundance of content to consume online, our window to captivate our audiences are getting smaller and smaller and the more strategic we are with our words - the better.
So, what is it?
A Brand Messaging Guide outlines your organization’s tone, voice, how you speak. and how you don’t. If your organization was a person, how would they speak? How would they introduce themselves? What would they say to call your audience to action? Having a guideline will be useful to maintain a consistent voice among all copy for your website, social media platforms, printed materials, and even help new stakeholders get familiar (fast) with the culture of your organization.
The first step to creating an effective brand messaging guide for all your organization’s copy writing needs is identifying who you are as an organization and what the ultimate goal is that needs to be accomplished. If you had one tweet (280 characters) what would you absolutely need to say? You cannot effectively communicate who you are and what you do to others if you can’t summarize it for yourself. Don’t be afraid to revise, revise, collaborate, and revise some more until you get it right!
Who are the stakeholders of your organization? Are they people in academia? Medical professionals? Parents? Teenagers? The people you are trying to reach will determine how you speak. Ultimately, it is your audience that gets to decide whether or not you’re communicating effectively. You need to think of what you want to say, but you also need to think of all the ways it can be misconstrued. Words can mean so many different things to different people and you need to account for that - but who cares if it's not interesting?
Take a moment and outline who your audience(s) are. How does your audience speak? What content will they find value in? In order to resonate with our audiences, we need to be on the same page as them, but the magical balance of it all is when your messaging remains authentic and representative of you. Remember that your organization should also be considered as one of your audiences.
Developing Your Voice
We often hear that there is nothing new under the sun, but no one will do what you do the way you do it. Hundreds of organizations can be selling the same product, but every one of those organizations can have a unique audience. It is the same way two people can have the exact same credentials, but personality is what will get you hired. Your brand’s voice is your organization’s personality traits. Determining what your voice is will depend on how you want to represent yourself.
Are you more formal or casual?
Do you use slang?
Do you use emoticons?
Do you have your own words?
How do you use punctuation? Casually or more formally?
How do you use humor? Are you more of a sarcastic person or a dad joke kind of person?
Defining Your Tone = #mood
Maybe your organization is excited, or maybe they are furious. Maybe your organization is indifferent or maybe they’ve found something hilarious. Your voice does not have to limit your messaging, but it will guide how you speak in all these different scenarios. Do you need to educate, share an update, or inspire your audience to take action?
Ask yourself the questions below:
How should I speak?
What words resonate with our values?
What do I want people to feel?
What do I want my audience to take away from this?
What words do I want to stay AWAY from?
Give people value while finding your own. Ask yourself why you're writing before you write.
Ask yourself why your words should be read before putting them out into the world.