The Optimal Brand Messaging Framework

Chris WrenFebruary 1, 20183 min

Messaging frameworks help brands rationalize their strategy across product and service lines. The exercise of developing messaging helps to decode the core value proposition via themes that reflect current customer needs. It’s best to treat frameworks as living documents, revisiting them every quarter, half, or year to ensure their validity.

The anatomy of a framework can and should vary, depending on who it’s for and what the framework is intended to guide.

Strong brand messaging will trigger an emotional response and often have a framework with these five elements:

1. Introduction

Because not everyone understands how to use messaging frameworks, it can be helpful to take the first page to describe what the framework is, and what it is not. Providing high-level guidance around how to use the messaging, where to find customer-facing copy points, who should be using the framework (executives, field, agencies) make it clearer for whoever the audience is.

2. Value Proposition And Summary Narrative

The most important element of a messaging framework is the value proposition. A brand’s value proposition is the single most compelling articulation of their offering. It’s similar to the brand’s business strategy, in that it is rarely presented or discussed outside the organization—either in part or as a whole. However, the spirit of what a value proposition embodies should be brought to life in every message and story the brand shares.

A value proposition may include key terms that need to be defined. For example, “We create synergy between people and technology so they can be happier and more productive,” has terms that need further elaboration. What does “synergy” mean in this context? How do we define “people” – Is this everyone? Is it business professionals? By defining key terms, it will be easier to develop the summary narrative and key themes while unpacking the value proposition for your customers.

With the value proposition and key terms defined, it’s often helpful to include a narrative, both long and short form. These expand on the value proposition, providing additional context, but like the value proposition itself, they are not customer-facing and should not be used in customer-facing copy.

3. Key Themes (Pillars)

A breakdown of the summary narrative leads to key themes that are inherently relatable to the brand’s audience. These are sometimes called pillars. While there are no rules regarding how many themes or pillars, two or three seem to be the most useable for audiences.

For each theme or pillar, take the time to explain what the theme means and what it delivers (benefits). If possible, augment this information with reasons to believe or even customer quotes taken from research used to build the framework. If your brand has a strong customer advocacy program, leverage what testimonials might be available to help provide real world evidence that the themes you’ve chosen are based in the real world.

Finally, it is always good to put customer-facing example copy blocks with each pillar so that executives, field and agencies can run with something that’s ready to go.

4. Elevator Pitch

Elevator pitches are meant to help pull the value proposition and themes together to “bring the story to life” with a natural, conversational flow—in a way that starts with why people should care before getting into how we can help and why we’re unique. They don’t necessarily need to be repeated verbatim; you audience can also use them as examples from which to create their own.

Many elevator pitches follow this pattern: first, it sets up the problem or pain (why you should care); second, it communicates the approach we’re taking to solve that pain, framing it within the context of the larger brand; third, it elaborates on the potential benefits of the brand’s approach (what you’ll get out of it); and fourth, it communicates how we’re delivering on all of this in a way that nobody else can match.

5. How Customers Might Describe You

Finally, include quotes that reflect how customers might feel about the value proposition and brand promise. This can serve as a bookend to the messaging framework.

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