Before Spending Thousands on Custom Designs, Prioritize This to Elevate Your Brand Instead A beautiful design will attract the eye, but the message is what gets a potential customer to move forward. Before spending thousands of dollars on custom visual branding, elevate your brand with messaging that resonates.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A big mistake too many entrepreneurs make is spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a visual brand identity without proving their offers or their messaging. But what good are pretty visuals if too many people are confused when you talk about what you do? An indicator that you should prioritize your brand messaging over your brand imagery or brand design is a high bounce rate on your website, as shown in Google Analytics. Another indicator is that your business only gets referrals.
While you could ask a brand designer to create a custom logo, color palette and typography or a videographer and photographer to provide you with beautiful brand imagery, this almost always becomes an expensive mistake if you haven't proven your offers, or if your messaging doesn't resonate.
To get started with elevating your messaging, consider creating a guide to your brand messaging and brand voice. This is one of the most important internal business documents any business owner should refer back to again and again as your brand evolves. In this article, I'll break down the 3 most important elements of an effective brand messaging guide, so your brand can attract more perfect-fit customers. I like to break down the brand messaging guides into three parts: the brand strategy, the ideal client and the brand voice.
The brand strategy
At a high level, the brand strategy consists of the following foundational components:
The unique value proposition: This is a non-negotiable for every business's brand strategy. Your value proposition is how you differentiate yourself. With a weak value proposition, customers won't have a compelling reason why they should consider you over your competitors. When this is strong, you make your brand un-copyable, and you will always be in demand, no matter what the competition comes out with, because you know who you are.
Brand mission: This is one of the strongest things you can communicate about your brand because it communicates why your company exists in the first place.
Core values: What does your brand stand for and not stand for? When you have your brand values in place, all company decisions — from marketing, customer experience and team hiring — can be made much faster. This should come from what your ideal customers value.
Brand stories: What led to the birth of your brand? Did you have unfortunate experiences that led you to do something different in the market? How does that move your company forward in service of your mission? What results have you helped your customers achieve? How did you refine your product? Answering all of these questions will help create a narrative that will help customers relate to your brand.
Brand personality: A defined brand personality shapes how your company makes people feel. What characteristics does the brand have that a customer will relate to? At a high level, a brand personality defines the direction of your messaging and all copywriting. Think about it like this: What would make your customer want to have dinner with your brand if it were a person?
The ideal client
When it comes to crafting marketing messages to attract your perfect-fit customer, there are three main messages to repeat before you present your unique process or your offer:
Pain points: What is your customer struggling with? How aware are they of that struggle?
Desired transformation: In their words, what does your customer want? What do they value?
Failed attempts: What other solutions has your customer already tried? What solutions exist, and how do those solutions fail to serve your ideal customer?
The brand voice
Brand messaging and brand voice are not the same thing. Think of the song, "Happy Birthday." The melody will never change, but a musician can change other things, like the key signature, the tempo or even the instrumental or choral arrangement. That's just a fancy way of saying you can play "Happy Birthday" with different instruments, keys or tempos, but the tune will always stay the same. Think of brand messaging as the melody to "Happy Birthday," and brand voice as all of the ways "Happy Birthday" can be performed differently. Let's get a little more specific about brand voice.
Brand sayings: What phrases or terms does your brand repeat over and over? The vocabulary your brand plays on repeat must be in service of reinforcing your brand mission and values, so if this is difficult to define, refine your brand values first.
Tone: What emotions will connect your ideal client to your company? How do you describe their pain points and desires? How does the tone shift when you are talking about your origin story or your expertise?
Articulation and style: This is where things get a little more technical. Articulation and style refer to how your brand embellishes certain tones as shown in punctuation, emojis and other typographical symbols.
Rhythm: The rhythm of your language refers to how long or short your sentences are on average. Is it punchy and short? Or is it lyrical, lengthy and melodious?
A visual brand identity without a strong verbal brand identity usually leads to customers not understanding the true value of a business's offers. The visual brand identity may make for pretty marketing, but without a strong brand message, price objections will almost always come up — and the business may miss out on sales.
Unlike brand guides, which outline the proper usage of a logo, font spacing and a color palette, a brand messaging guide outlines the proper usage of your brand's words. When you have your brand messaging in one guide, you will have a strategic SOP that you can always come back to when marketing to attract your perfect-fit customer. Team members, especially in sales and marketing, will all stay on the same page, which reduces the chances of inconsistent marketing messages or poor customer service.