Building a brand message for your company can feel like a daunting task. But following a basic checklist of storytelling fundamentals can help ensure your brand voice is clear and powerful, and resonates with your audience.
Think of your messaging platform as a blueprint of your ideal company image. It is a sketch that captures—in words—the strongest, most compelling picture of your organization. It is not necessarily how your company will appear to the public or your target audience every day, but rather a vision of the company you aspire to be.
Some days, you’ll be a perfect reflection of that image, while other days you may fall short. But the blueprint will serve as a timeless anchor that keeps everyone aiming for the same goal.
How to Build Your Messaging Platform
Airbnb, Nike and IBM are three companies often cited for their powerful storytelling. Your company may not match the reach of these companies, but you can start to embrace some of your own winning techniques.
The messaging platform is an internal document intended to help unify the company voice by adopting a common identity, with content that can be tailored for marketing copy, media publications, story pitches, press releases or other materials as needed. Messaging can take many forms, but ultimately it should define your core principles, tell a compelling narrative, and identify objective, boilerplate language for press releases.
1. The Big Idea
You should begin with something we call the Big Idea. This is essentially a headline theme that captures in a brief statement why people should care about your company, product or service. It is not intended to communicate the key features of your various business lines or product functions, so much as it is to make an emotional connection with your audience.
2. Positioning Pillars
Next, you should identify three core principles that define your company and list supporting bullets for each that explain their significance. These principles should be high-level concepts that speak to the driving forces of your firm. They can be character traits, such as Integrity, Accuracy, and Tradition, or they can align with target markets, company objectives, or specific offerings. These pillars will serve as the foundation for the rest of your platform.
3. The Narrative
Your platform should also include a narrative, or a story that captures the most compelling aspects of your firm, one that forges an emotional connection with your target audience and inspires them to act.
It could be your company’s remarkable evolution of growth, a founder’s personal story of triumph, or a team’s moment of discovery. It should reveal something engaging and memorable, without becoming mired in technical details of products or services.
4. Proof Points
Proof points are bullets of hard evidence to support the more subjective statements in your messaging. If you are positioning your firm as the leading provider of retirement planning software, your bullets might detail your market share, sales revenue or industry citations.
5. The Boilerplate
Your boilerplate is the language that goes at the bottom of every press release, and what any reporter will likely refer to first to quickly understand the function of your company. This text should be a short, objective profile of your company of no more than two to three concise paragraphs. It should include the year your company was founded, its geographic locations, a description of what it does, and a link to your website.
3 Common Pitfalls to Avoid
As you build your platform, there are some bad habits to avoid that can significantly weaken your message.
1. Don’t Over Sanitize
Your messaging should embrace bold viewpoints and a distinct voice that showcase your company’s personality. While your platform should stick to a tone and content that’s appropriate for your audience, it shouldn’t conform to the widely used language and ideas of your peers. And you shouldn’t assume that revealing a weakness or sharing a moment of adversity will compromise your message—it’s often seen as a strength.
2. Screen for Jargon and Clichés
Scrub your messaging for jargon and clichés. Industry jargon that’s vague or unclear will only serve to alienate your audience. Clichés will only bore them and give the impression that you’re unoriginal. Your messaging is meant to fortify your brand and amplify your voice. Replace bland text and listless ideas with sharp, vivid language that conveys a passion for what you do and gets your audience excited about your vision.
3. Don’t Lock Yourself In
While a messaging platform is meant to have a long shelf life, it is a fluid document, and should be revisited any time your company experiences a major change, such as an expansion, or needs to refine a viewpoint.
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