Are you finding it difficult to produce meaningful content for your social media channels and blog articles? Does your marketing seem ineffective? Perhaps your brand is sending the wrong message. These are just some of the problems that a well-planned messaging architecture can solve.
What is a messaging architecture?
Part of the brand building process is developing a messaging strategy as a blueprint for all your marketing and communications efforts. One of the most beneficial outcomes of going through this strategic process is the brand messaging architecture (sometimes referred to as a messaging framework).
This framework reflects your brand’s personality and allows you to better engage with your target audience by speaking to their needs, desires, pain points, values, and goals at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Not only does this framework offer messaging that appeals to your target market’s concerns and addresses possible objections, it also serves to build an affinity with your audience by appealing to their emotions and values through your brand’s higher purpose. That is, those attributes that position your organization in the mind of your audience in a meaningful way.
Why is a messaging architecture important?
Without a messaging strategy and the resulting messaging architecture, your marketing efforts could be ineffective and costly. You could end up wasting countless hours and thousands to millions of dollars on advertising and marketing campaigns that never appeal to your market. You can add to that the enormous loss of potential revenue, and you can see why the random, shotgun approach to marketing is both wasteful and unwise.
The solution is a strategic messaging architecture that includes the development of your brand attributes, competitive and target market research and analysis, segmented buyer personas, and messaging pillars that address each persona at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
Sound complicated? It is, but this article will guide you through the process to get your messaging on track. I’ve also included four templates that will help you to implement what you learn here so you can start seeing an increase in your marketing ROI right away.
Is it worth the effort?
The process of developing your messaging architecture takes time, research, and a lot of thought. The result, however, is worth all your hard work.
Your messaging strategy and resulting architecture will allow you to:
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- Attract and engage your ideal client
- Create meaningful connections with your target audience
- Influence your firm’s public perception
- Build credibility as an expert
- Increase client retention and loyalty
- Position you as an expert
- Increase brand awareness
- Create affinity with your target audience
- Increase word of mouth
- Inform marketing and communications efforts
- Improve marketing ROI
- Boost sales
The following is a list of where your messaging architecture should be implemented:
- Content marketing: Blog articles, videos, podcasts, webinars, infographics, Ebooks, guides, white papers, quizzes/tools
- Social media posts
- Sales copy: scripts, pitch decks, one-pagers
- Website copy
- Printed marketing collateral: brochures, signage, business cards, newsletters
- Advertising copy
- Email campaigns
- Public relations efforts: press kits, news releases, press briefings, interviews
- Case studies
- Networking: elevator pitch, key messages (how to talk about your firm in public)
I’m probably missing something, but I think you get the point here.
Before I start laying out the process, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that your likelihood for success is greatly increased if you hire a brand consultant to assist you with the research and strategies involved. Both their experience and insights can be extremely helpful, especially since they are an outside observer able to see things that you may be too close to perceive.
And with that out of the way, let’s get down to the details.
Feel free to use this messaging architecture template to help you work through the process.
Know who you are
Your messaging architecture should reflect your brand’s identity – substance (vision, mission, values, and purpose), personality (archetype, voice, and tone) and brand position— how you are different from your competitors and how you wish to be perceived in the mind of your target market (brand promise, unique selling proposition, positioning statement, and differentiators).
Start by developing your brand attributes. I won’t get into the weeds with how to develop each of these elements, as this would turn into a book rather than an article, but this should get you headed in the right direction.
- Vision – Your brand vision is the aspirational intentions and ideas behind your brand. It is the future outlook of what you want your organization to become and be known for.
- Mission – Your mission statement defines the organization’s objectives and communicates its purpose and direction to all stakeholders.
- Values – Your brand values are what your organization stands for, and is the guide for much of your decision making as well as your brand story, content, and who you choose to align with. Highlighting more intangible attributes (values) such as quality, innovation and concern for customers allows for a more credible and memorable brand, and it positions the organization in the mind of its stakeholders in a more meaningful way.
- Higher purpose – Your brand’s higher purpose goes beyond your product or service and focuses on something larger than sales revenue. Aligning your business with a greater cause is one more step in developing a meaningful brand. A higher purpose can attract clients that share or identify with the ideas that the brand stands for. It’s important that your purpose not only aligns with your capabilities and your target audience’s values, but is also authentic to your organization and its leadership. You can learn how to differentiate your business through organizational values and higher purpose in THIS ARTICLE.
- Brand promise – Defines the experience, value, and results that a client expects from every interaction with your brand. This, like all other brand elements, should remain consistent in order to maintain customer loyalty and trust.
- Positioning statement – This internal guideline states who your clients are, what you provide that is relevant to their needs but is different from your competitors, and offers a reason to believe you are the best choice. A lot of market research goes into developing this statement, but it is necessary in order to appeal to your target market and differentiate yourself from the competition.
- Differentiators – Characteristics of your organization that distinguishes you from the competition, and provides a perceived advantage in the minds of your target market.
- Unique Selling Proposition – A more narrowly focused statement of what differentiates your organization from the competition. After listing your differentiators, choose 1-2 that really sets you apart. There are a number of areas where you can differentiate yourself while addressing the needs, desires and goals of your ideal client. Check out THIS ARTICLE and the accompanying template to develop your USP.
A business or individual’s brand personality is a set of traits or characteristics that produces relatability and personal connection with the audience. For messaging, this includes the voice, tone and vocabulary the brand uses to portray itself.
Intentionally molding your brand’s perception by crafting and reflecting distinct personality traits will allow you to attract the specific audience you wish to work with. And just like the other brand elements, it will help you distinguish your business from your competitors.
Additionally, a well-defined brand personality will help to guide communication efforts that speak to the target audience on an emotional level.
Use the template and guidelines in THIS ARTICLE to develop your brand voice and personality.
Know your target audience
There are many ways to research your target audience. Since I’ve already gone in to great detail about research in THIS ARTICLE (and video), I’ll just refer you to there to discover 5 sure ways to uncover your clients’ deepest desires.
Create buyer personas based on research
After you have completed your audience research, it’s time to personalize your results. Developing segmented buyer personas will allow you to view each type of client as an individual, each with their own set of goals, challenges, motivations, values, and preferred communication channels. This makes it easier to write articles and emails, produce videos, and create advertising that speak directly to a person.
Not only will these documents help you to remain aware of who you are speaking to, but also what to say, and how, why, where, and when to say it. Use the messaging architecture template that I referred to earlier to fill in the details about each persona you are developing.
Create your messaging pillars
Now that you have established your brand attributes and gained a better understanding of your target audience through buyer personas, it’s time to create messaging pillars for each persona.
This is accomplished by noticing the overlap of your brand and your audience. I recommend dividing the overlap into two categories as shown in the Venn diagrams below: problem/solution messaging and purpose and values messaging. In the messaging architecture template, I have further divided the problem/solution messaging pillars into concerns/objections to address and reasons to believe/proof points.
This method of noticing commonalities in your brand and your audience offers the most effective messaging filled with empathy, understanding, and solutions specific to your clients’ goals and challenges.
The purpose and values messaging pillars will help your brand to resonate with your target audience on a more meaningful level through content that addresses causes as well as the development of social responsibility campaigns.
Going a step beyond your messaging pillars, you should consider developing messaging that aligns with each stage of the buyer’s journey, but that’s for another article. In the meantime, you can use this TEMPLATE to help you along with that process.
If you need help developing your brand messaging architecture, we’re available to assist.
Set up a free 15-minute consultation to get started.
Are you standing out from the competition? Take the Brand Differentiation Assessment to see if your brand’s identity, positioning and messaging are at their optimal level.