January 27, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Why does your brand exist? This is a daunting question to answer, especially for new brands or those trying to reinvent themselves. Luckily, creating a message framework helps you discover the answer to this question, and prepares you to create larger plans for marketing and sales. In this article, we cover:
A messaging framework is a written representation of the selling points that make your brand unique in its market. It’s also a systematic way to define the value that your company, products, or services bring to customers and clients. The messaging framework may include a collection of documents, guides, and written pieces to help your company share its main ideas across different platforms to best connect with the target audience.
A framework tells the “what,” “why,” and “how” of your business to the target audience. It gives a simple way to answer those potentially tricky questions like “what does your company do?” or “why does your business exist?” A successful message framework is easy to understand for both the creators and the public.
If people don’t understand what you do, they won’t engage with your company. Going through the creation process for a messaging framework lets you better understand what value your company brings to the market. The answers you find help you increase brand trust and loyalty. The framework lets you create a strong value proposition and a clear, enticing message to share that proposition with the public. It also serves as the foundation for your content marketing plan and strategy.
A messaging framework allows you to present your brand consistently across channels, such as on your social media feeds, website, and mobile apps. Consistency makes it easier for your employees and stakeholders to share information about your company with clients and customers. It helps them feel prepared and more confident when providing feedback. The framework also helps if you work with third-party employees or customers, such as freelancers or partners. The plan guides them to stay in line with company values even if they’re not immersed in them full-time.
Image via Unsplash by @patrickperkins
A successful message framework gives all your stakeholders a sense of purpose within the company. It helps them understand how their efforts contribute not just to brand value, but to the greater good of the business. Some departments that use the framework include:
There isn’t one specific messaging framework template or guide that fits every business. But there are certain areas to consider when you’re creating your own:
Your brand promise is a claim you make to your customers about your products or services. Upholding that promise increases customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. The promise is usually short and may even work as your company’s tagline or slogan.
Consider the GEICO Insurance tagline: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.” With this statement, the company promises that customers can save a specific amount of money on car insurance in a defined time frame. Not every brand promise has to be this specific. But knowing what you want your customers to experience and what they should be able to expect from doing business with you falls into this category.
The value proposition summarizes the important things that your company can provide to clients or customers who use your products or services. An effective proposition helps increase your conversions and takes an audience member from a lead or a prospect to an actual customer. The value proposition can help you write your brand promises or other content for your marketing strategies.
It’s important to know exactly who your audience is and who you’re targeting with the framework. Doing so allows you to make your message as clear, concise, and interesting as possible. If you already know your target audience, then you’re set. You can simply add it to your document. If you know nothing about your audience, it’s time to define who you’re trying to reach with your brand. Do this by reviewing data about your customers, subscribers, users, and followers. Consider the following demographic and behavioral information when engaging in this process:
The positioning statement tells you what makes your product or service better or different from the competition. It doesn’t just tell you why your brand is different, but why that matters to your target audience. The positioning statement answers the questions customers have about your brand and explains how your products or services solve their problems.
Customer personas are fictional representations of members of your target audience, like characters in a book or a television show. Use the data found when researching your target audience to create these personas. They often represent your ideal customers, the people who are most likely to buy from you or work with your company under the right conditions. Add a lot of detail to your customer personas to learn as much about your potential audience as possible.
A company mission statement defines your brand’s purpose, not just in the market, but in the world. It tells how you want to improve the world with your offerings or what exactly you do to make customers’ lives better.
Different from the brand promise, a company mission statement is often longer and contains more information about company values and goals. While you may include the brand promise in your mission statement, that’s only one line of a larger piece. Companies often use mission statements for internal and external communication, meaning they’re available both to the target audience and stakeholders.
Your brand voice is how your company appears and sounds to the public in external communications. It’s often described by adjectives. Popular ones include “friendly” or “direct.” Record exactly how you want your brand voice to appear in communications within your message framework. This makes it easier for all employees and stakeholders to convey that exact persona when dealing with the public. Consider writing examples of sentences, answers, or other lines of text that may illustrate phrasing and word choice that fit your desired brand voice.
Use these steps to learn how to create and implement a message framework with your company:
Unless you’re starting a brand new business, you likely already engage in marketing, advertising, content writing, and sales with your company. That means you already have some forms of customer-facing messaging out in the world. Use these messages as a starting position by auditing your current materials. How are they performing? Which ones get the best response and why? This information gives you insights into your audience, displays your public appeal, and shows you areas to improve through more research and better communication.
Beyond reviewing your own communications, research what the competition is doing and saying with its messaging. Discovering what those companies promise customers and the value they claim to provide helps you see how your brand compares. Then, you can spot areas where your brand is unique and draw on those factors for inspiration when crafting your messages.
Your product designers, subject matter experts, and other people involved with creating and implementing your products and services may have a lot to offer when explaining brand value. Hold meetings with employees and stakeholders from different groups and areas of the company. Get them to explain what they do and what your products and services do in simple terms. Doing so helps you make sure you’re getting the most accurate information from the people who know it best.
Like you may do for a research paper or article, start your writing by creating a thesis. This brief statement summarizes the purpose of your framework. It’s the main idea. What do you want people to take away from your message if they only learn one thing about your company? A thesis helps you understand the big picture of what your messaging can achieve.
Summarize what you know about your target audience. If you don’t have a clear picture of the individuals that make up your target audience, now is the time to do that research. It’s also the time to craft customer personas if you don’t have them. You can also refine existing personas to better fit characteristics you’ve learned about your audience during research.
List the features and factors that make your brand, product, or service unique. Some call these message pillars because they’re the foundation and support of your entire framework. These pillars include not just what makes your company different, but why.
For example, if a cell phone company lists that its products come with a built-in stand, that’s a unique feature. But it’s not a message pillar on its own. Discussing that the brand includes the stand to make it easier to hold video conferences on your phone from anywhere could be a message pillar because it provides more detail. This section is also where you draft your brand promise or mission statement, if you haven’t done so already, to further guide your message pillars.
Using your message pillars, mission statement, and brand promise as guides, create your value proposition. Keep it concise and share what makes your brand unique and why. This is one of the most important pieces of your framework. Don’t be afraid to draft and edit it multiple times before publication.
Create a comprehensive draft document of your framework based on the information and data collected and the sections you’ve developed. You may use a template, like from the sources listed below, or create a document of your own. The draft doesn’t have to be perfect, but make sure it includes all the elements and pieces important to your brand.
The messaging framework goes beyond the written word. Because it’s part of your branding, you may also choose to include additional elements for people to associate with your brand and for stakeholders and employees to access in the future. These may include pieces like the written description of your brand voice. Other examples include a style guide—or a list of grammatical and syntax rules to follow when writing for your brand—your iconography, typography, and color palette.
eBook: Why Should You Have a Style Guide? [Download Now]
After creating the draft, meet with your team again and let them review the document. This meeting helps you make sure you’re presenting the information accurately in a way that makes sense. Ask for feedback to help polish the final copy.
After editing and revisions, test the messaging with customers. Testing comes in different forms, such as updating the brand promise on your website, introducing new questions for customer service representatives, or creating new pieces of content. Consider A/B testing to see if certain iterations of messaging work better than others to spark interest or create more conversions.
Once you’ve tested and completed the document, share the framework with your company at large. Everyone, from multiple departments, uses this guide to run the business, so it’s helpful for all of them to have a copy. Consider making the guide and all its components available in print and digital forms to meet all preferences and needs.
If you’re looking for help to create your first messaging framework document, consider one of the following templates:
Messaging frameworks may adapt over time as your business grows and changes. But industry factors and audience tastes may also have you considering rebranding or alignment. Stay up to date with these potential change factors by subscribing to the weekly CopyPress newsletter. In each edition, you’ll find helpful information about hot content marketing topics. You’ll also get links to resources and insights to help you not just with your message frameworks, but any marketing area that could use a refresh. Sign up today and get your first communication delivered right to your inbox.
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