The importance of messaging strategy in brand work

How a messaging strategy helps inform smart brand communications

Messaging Strategy Guiding All We Do

Whether it’s a rebrand for a consumer packaged good or a marketing campaign for a community hospital, smart communications begin with a thoughtful messaging strategy. The messaging strategy guides all we do, before we think about greater campaign headlines or even a brand’s new tagline. Sometimes it even inspires the design. Setting a messaging strategy in place, informed by important discovery work, gives us and our clients a reference point to ensure our communications are strategic and impactful. 

Over the years, we’ve evolved our messaging strategy framework to work best for our clients and their projects, and it has become a crucial phase in our process.

Messaging Platforms

Our messaging strategy begins with messaging platforms. We think of these as the brand’s key differentiators. What messages can and should the brand own? What makes the brand different from its competition? This approach can also be applied to campaign work too. What key messages need to be conveyed through this campaign? What do we want our audiences to take away from this? Honing in on typically three key messages, we can begin to build the brand’s communications.

Tone & Voice

What we say is important, but how we say it is also important. We all know this is true in everyday life, and this principle applies to messaging work too. As part of the messaging strategy, we identify a handful of descriptors for the brand’s tone and voice. That might be confident, transparent and slightly cheeky for a consumer packaged good or conversational, informative and trustworthy for a community hospital. Tone and voice gives us the opportunity to give a brand a personality, and establishing this early on ensures consistency throughout future communications.

The Conversation

Once we’ve established the brand’s tone and voice, we then build out the messaging platforms with what we call the conversation. The conversation is simply an exploration of the brand narrative, illustrating what these messages might actually be and how they might actually sound. We do this outside the framework of specific communications, such as ads, brochures, social media or web pages. The freedom and creativity of this work allows us to craft engaging copy that brings the brand’s messaging to life and oftentimes, results in real, usable copy for tactics later on.

Messaging Hierarchy

It’s likely some messages will be more important to certain audiences than others. In this component of the messaging strategy, we prioritize the messaging platforms for each of the brand’s target audiences, which is established in the discovery phase. The messaging hierarchy serves as a particularly helpful guide when we begin copywriting for real tactics, as we’ve already established which message or messages should be most prominent.

Brand Position

We think of the brand position as the brand’s elevator pitch. It is truly a summation of the messaging strategy work into a concise and memorable format that can be owned internally and, at times, used externally. It is a quick reminder of the brand’s key messages and its purpose.

Creative work is often subjective, but a messaging strategy gives the guidance we and our clients need to craft communications that are smart and impactful every step of the way.