Every business leader recognises the importance of brand messaging; being able to quickly and concisely describe what their company does, what their product or service offers and why customers should buy from them.
Effective brand messaging helps to shape consumer perceptions and decision-making behavior. A strong brand message aligns market strategy with the needs of consumers, it creates a vision and communicates the unique value of the brand.
However, the current marketplace is full of other business leaders trying to do achieve exactly the same goal, so how do you cut through the noise and get customers interested?
How do you make sure that your messaging is effective?
In this article, we’ve identified five crucial components of effective brand messaging:
- Targeted messaging
- Targeted audience
- Trigger, routine, reward
- Continual testing
- A root in digital
We’ve also included a number of examples to demonstrate how this has been successfully applied.
Targeted Brand Messaging
Consider this analogy - If you’re trying to hit a specific target a sniper rifle will probably achieve a bullseye every time, whereas a shotgun will either obliterate the target or miss it altogether.
Therefore, if you have a well-honed message which speaks to a specific customer or customer group, (sniper rifle) you'll hit your target more consistently. Whereas an unfocused, broad or ineffective message (shotgun) will have a low response rate, regardless of the amount of resource deployed.
If you aim for your message to be as targeted as possible, your chances of reaching that audience will be substantially improved.
The next step is to find out which messages will resonate with your customers by understanding your customer groups or personas.
Begin with market research to establish all aspects of the customer buying journey and then create customer avatars (the characteristics of your ideal customer) to understand the following about each of your market segments:
- Customer needs, both logical and emotional
- Customer pain points
- Customer opportunities
- Customer mentality
- Customer location - identify where they hang out
Once your customers have been profiled and clarified, you’ll achieve a better understanding of how to use your content to sell to them. This will include aspects such as:
- Whether your customer engages more with an emotional or a functional approach
- Whether your customer responds to a problem-based or solution-based approach
- Where your customer is most likely to engage with advertising
For example, in the B2B market this could be ensuring that your statements of features, benefits and core values appeal to your customer groups. In a retail environment you may need to test the response of every aspect of your brand, from your product and packaging, to your retail space as a whole.
Although it’s challenging to drill down to understand the deep-seated motivations of your ideal prospects, the benefit is to be able to deliver the right marketing message that appeals to them.
Trigger, Routine, Reward
The key to developing an effective message which works well and resonates with customers is to utilise the trigger, routine, reward approach.
An excellent example goes back to the early 1900s, when many companies were having a hard time convincing people to buy toothpaste and brush their teeth every day.
An American businessman, Claude C. Hopkins, realised that within every consumer habit there is a trigger, a routine and a reward. In Pepsodent Toothpaste ads, Hopkins adopted the following approach:
Three weeks after that first Pepsodent ad, toothpaste consumption exploded and became a mainstream habitual consumer purchase, prompting many other toothpaste brands to directly copy this approach.
By using research into behavioural science, you can help to identify the habits and triggers which explain customer purchasing at a subconscious and conscious level.
Once you have developed your targeted message and targeted audience, you then need to test it to ensure that it’s marketed in a way that resonates with your customers.
One benefit of digital marketing techniques is that this information to be tested on a small scale to discover what generates the best interest and what doesn’t work.
Results from the small scale testing will provide the best option to develop a scaled up marketing strategy, in the knowledge that this has a very high chance of delivering a good result.
However, customers are fickle and often follow trends - what works today may not work next week, next month or next year.
Therefore, to ensure that you are keeping up-to-date with consumer trends, traits and mentalities, regular re-testing is required to ensure that your messaging continues to align with a potentially changing consumer need.
In practice this will include regularly reviewing your customer avatars to test whether what you think you know about your consumer matches with your consumer data, and to understand how this might change over time.
In addition to understanding your consumers, you should also be able to accurately understand your company from a digital marketing perspective.
Successful brands have a strong brand identity which is embedded within all of their messaging and marketing materials. Identifying which brand archetype your company represents can help you to make sure your message is consistent, targeted and purposeful.
The psychologist Carl Jung believed that there are only twelve character archetypes which are rooted in the human subconscious – which is why character stereotypes in books, films and TV are so common.
If you understand which archetype represents your brand, then your messaging will be more consistent, you can start to better understand the characteristics and needs of your consumer base and you will be able to communicate more easily and effectively.
Examples of Effective Brand Messaging
The most successful brand messages are ones that present their USP, their aims, their values and manage to tie in the audience all in a short and memorable way
Many companies convey a strong brand message through the use of a slogan.
- Just do it (Nike)
- Because you're worth it (L'Oréal)
- Quality never goes out of style (Levis)
- Ultimate driving machine (BMW).
In each of the above, the customer relates a product with the brand, demonstrating the value of the product or service and setting it apart from the competition.
The power of branding and messaging can also be judged by how it revitalised established companies that were previously struggling:
Problem - Once considered ‘reassuringly expensive’ but then suffered from supermarket discounting which led to an association with lager louts and ‘wife beating’.
Solution - Created a range of additional beers under the softer umbrella Artois brand, Peeterman, a wheat beer of 4% strength, Bock, a 6% lager and Stella Artois Cidre, its own brand of cider.
Problem - Severe competition resulted in the company facing bankruptcy in the late 1990s.
Solution - Tapped into their demographic with strong memories of the brand and, through them, reached a younger audience (their children). For younger users they used the lego movie, clever use of social media and increased use of content.
Problem - Apple products previously had a very low street credibility and with stiff competition the company came dangerously close to bankruptcy.
Solution - A clever advertising campaign “Think Different” challenged customers to see Apple as a lifestyle choice which reflected their own individuality. This was backed up by developing a new type of computer rather than copying the competition.
These examples perfectly demonstrate how brand messaging needs to be revisited and revised in order to move with consumer perception and need.
Optimising the Brand Messaging process with Digital.
In a modern marketing environment where most, if not all aspects of the customer purchasing journey take place online, it makes sense for digital tools to be used before the journey even begins, at the brand development stage.
Digital tools and capabilities provide a cost-effective way for smaller SME’s to understand their consumers, get their message right, and then reach customers quickly and easily.
It provides access to instant feedback, rapid testing and prototyping and the ability to iteratively improve and scale a campaign faster and more accurately than would ever be possible with traditional, non-digital methods.
How can we help?
Behind the most successful brand messages will be teams of marketing experts who understand the importance of investing time and money into continually creating, shaping and testing brand messages.
If you are a smaller company it’s probably likely that you don’t have a marketing specialist. Creating effective branding is more of a challenge in these situations and its then worthwhile seeking the views of an expert in this field.
Book a free, 15-minute no-obligation consultation with one of our consultants today to optimise and review your brand messaging.