There’s nothing deadlier to your marketing than a weak brand message. Product features all over the place, no clear customer benefit, buzz words a-go-go…this is the recipe for disappearing in a crowded market. Yet so many brands do it.
A punchy brand message follows the less is more rule. It conveys your business’ value in a crunchy sequence that’s easy to digest. It’s proud to say something different and happily sticks its neck out in the crowd with a distinct attitude and point of view.
The punchy message beats the weak message every time. So how do you know where you stand?
Here are the three essential ingredients to a punchy brand message.
A punchy brand message has purpose—a guiding belief that’s bigger than the things you sell.
Apple is the perfect example. Their purpose is to challenge the status quo and think differently. This belief inspired their computer design and innovations beyond. More importantly, it struck a chord with like-minded people and sparked an epic movement of die-hard fans.
In his seminal TED talk, Simon Sinek said “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do.” He explains how the part of our brain that drives decision-making and behavior doesn’t respond to facts and figures, like features and benefits. It responds to emotional things, like a shared belief, and is the source of trust and loyalty.
So while everyone else screams what they do—features! Claims! Prices!—the few who talk about why they do connect with people on a different level.
Having a purpose isn’t a magic bullet—alone, it won’t turn you into Apple. But when you’re clear about your brand’s purpose, you’ll attract people who feel the same way.
They’ll choose you because it just feels right. And that’s damn hard for another business to compete with.
To uncover your brand’s purpose, go back to the beginning. Why was your company founded? What problems was it trying to solve? What’s the #1 reason your business exists today? Why do your people get out of bed in the morning?
Keep in mind that your purpose is all about the “why”, not the “what” or “how”.
Once your purpose is clear, help customers understand it. Write it on your about page, explain it in a blog series, put it in an ad, live it during your day-to-day.
A punchy brand message has a personality you’d recognize anywhere. It’s a voice that’s different from the rest and tuned pitch-perfect for your customers.
Take the innovative video conferencing solution, Highfive, for example. They’re the new school approach to remote meetings. Highfive wants to talk to IT Directors of companies who’re sick and tired of dealing with clunky, inefficient conferencing tools.
So they say things like: “We turn conference rooms into sh*t get done rooms” and “we’re the only solution that won’t suck up 15 minutes of every meeting.”
Their personality is refreshingly different—bright, real and a little bit cheeky. It stands out like a beacon of hope to anyone looking for a totally new solution. (Compare it to the expectedness of their competitor, Vidyo.)
Highfive also sounds like a guy, which is no accident. Most IT Directors are guys too, so they can relate to Highfive.
Your brand personality should jive with your customers and be different from your competitors. Here’s how to start crafting one:
Describe what your brand would be like if they were a person. What would they wear, how would they talk? It’s OK if this image strays from your current brand personality—you can grow into a personality over time.
Picture your customers: What are they like? What do they care about? How do they talk? These things need to jive with your personality.
Check your competitors. What are their personalities? How might you sound different?
Settle on three personality traits—like Highfive’s bright, real and cheeky—and try keeping them in mind whenever you write something for your brand. Do this consistently and your brand message will have real personality.
A punchy brand message is always consistent. Always.
If your brand personality is supposed to be conversational and fun, but you fall into dry language every so often, then your personality seems confused and inauthentic.
If you describe your company differently across Twitter, Facebook and your website, you don’t sound like a confident leader.
And if you describe different benefits in different ways, it’s hard for people to get a clear read on your value.
About 80% of branding boils down to a consistent message across your marketing, from Twitter bio to website. It’s absolutely worth the effort–especially when you’re establishing a new brand message.
Luckily, it’s easy to do once you have a messaging framework guiding you. This marketing cheat-sheet has all your key marketing messages outlined and prioritized, for quick reference. Here are a few things to put in it:
Brand promise – the essence of what your brand delivers. It should be crisp and concrete, like BMW’s: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
Company description, long and short versions – make this work harder for you by weaving in your ideal customer or benefit, like Slack’s: “Real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.”
Key benefits – nail down your top three benefits, plus a description of each.
Tone – choose 3 traits to describe your brand’s tone, like Highfive’s bright, real and cheeky.
Your brand message matters
Weak brand messages are everywhere. Any company who focuses on making their brand message stronger has a clear advantage. They’re more likely to break through the clutter, connect with people and get that sale.
Use these ingredients as guideposts for crafting your brand message. People will start understanding your difference, sales conversations will get easier, and your competition will wonder how you did it without tons of buzz words.