Find your Voice: How to Create a Brand Messaging Guide for Your Business
Do you find yourself stuck when it comes to writing captions? Maybe you haven’t hit publish on your website yet because you can’t seem to find the right words. Or, are you constantly drawing a blank when it comes to brainstorming fresh newsletter or blog content? Your brand may need a little extra focus.
Enter: the Brand Messaging Guide
Your story is the foundation of your brand, it’s what makes you unique. How consistently and clearly you articulate what you do and how you do it is what will ultimately determine your success. Below is a step-by-step primer to help get you started as you hone in on your brand’s communication style.
What’s a brand messaging guide?
It’s a key messaging strategy, and it’s an essential aspect of your brand’s DNA. It’s a game plan to help clarify your mission, target audience and value proposition. It zeroes in on everything from tone of voice to language and brand personality. The guide is a place to come back to when making any business decisions, writing copy for your website or social, or creating marketing campaigns or promotions. It’s an invaluable and powerful tool you’ll look to time and time again.
Why do I need one?
Every brand needs a crystal clear direction — whether you’re an e-comm, bricks-and-mortar, or service-based business. All written communication associated with your brand should feel like it’s been written by one person in one voice. By establishing concrete guidelines, you ensure nothing feels scattered or out of place. The last thing you want to do is create confusion.
Where do I begin?
- Define your POV: Start with the point of view of your brand. Compare and contrast the typical industry perspective against the unique approach your business delivers.
- Identify your ideal client: Knowing who you’re speaking to is key to knowing how to speak to them. Personalize your approach by defining your niche – here’s how.
- Outline your brand identity: This is where you articulate who your brand is and what it does. Create a list of descriptors to help maintain focus.
Once these elements of your brand are outlined, you can begin to finesse your brand’s voice. This is where you can have some fun.
Finding your voice
Tone of voice is arguably just as important as the visuals that accompany your brand. The words you select and the way you speak conveys to the customer what you’re all about.
THE MESSAGE – what you communicate with your clients/audience
THE TONE – how you communicate with your customers/audience
When writing copy for any marketing initiative – yes, even an instagram caption – it’s critical to remember your why. It’s easy to fall into trendy internet speak, but it’s important to remain authentic to who you are and what your business stands for.
Is your brand editorial and poised, passionate and authentic, or approachable and helpful? Does your brand incorporate tongue-in-cheek humour or does it communicate from a place of authority? This is where the personality of your brand comes in, and it will vary greatly from business to business.
Beyond your tone and the message itself, the style in which the message is captured is also something important to consider. To ensure your language is consistent across the board, create a few ‘rules’ for your brand (i.e. use of capitalization, accepted ways of citing the brand’s name, use of emojis, etc.) and ensure everyone on the team is on board. These details may seem tiny or even feel like overkill, but consistency truly matters – and your customers will take notice.
Finally, brainstorm a list of words and phrases to attribute to your brand. These are known as trigger words and they are meant to be hyper specific to your audience – words they will connect to and resonate with. The goal is to drive them to take action, whether it’s subscribing to your mailing list, engaging with a social post, or purchasing your latest product on presale.
Going through the exercise of defining your brand voice is an essential endeavour, no matter what industry you’re in. Developing a guide to shape your communication style will serve your business and help accelerate its growth.
Ashley Cassidy Seale is the founder of Ruby Social Co., a creative communications studio for conscious lifestyle, beauty, and wellness brands. She has cultivated over 10 years of experience and brings her expertise to elevate her clients through PR, social strategy and content, and copywriting.