Brand message

The brand message is a short paragraph stating all the things you want people to think about your product(s).

It is the guideline for all of your marketing, because it contains all the vital bits and pieces that you need to communicate; and no fluff. When you're doing advertising or other programs later, you'll base all of your material on the brand message - from taglines to websites, promotions, etc. - even logos.

On the next few pages we'll go over what to include in your brand message, followed up with some examples:

  1. Benefits
  2. Customer Need
  3. Differentiation
  4. Call to Action

Branding: Benefits first

List the benefits your customer receives.

Don't make me have to figure out if your product benefits me. Tell me right up front, before anything else. Example:

''Rejuvenate your spirit like a fresh rain''

This is for a soap made from processed animal lard, glycerine, emulsifiers, chemical pigments and polyascorbate solids. Beauty products are legendary examples of this rule:

Begin with the benefits the buyer will receive, not what the product is or what the features are.

You must capture the reader's interest first with a benefit. On every paragraph, of everything. Then after that 'benefit statement' sentence you describe what the product is and how good it is. Don't do it the other way around.

Branding: Customer Need

List the needs your product fulfills, or the problems it solves.

Your customer has a need. Describe how you fill it. It can be long or short; even down to one word.

The deeper down you can get beyond the obvious, the better. For example, ''I need a new tire'' is not really a need. You actually need your road trip to not be ruined, or a meeting postponed. You need to drive without worry. You need to save money.

You can need a tire for more emotional reasons, for example to go faster or ride smoothly and quietly. Or for vanity, if the tire is especially cool.

Prioritize by what you think customers need the most. You may have an assortment of products that answer different needs. In that case, do this for each product independently.

Branding: Differentiation

List what is different about your product.

Most products are really no better than the competition. This is actually okay, because as long as you can say you are different, you have won.

Most business owners detest defining their differentiation because they don't like exaggerating or overinflating their message to their customers. However, that's not what you're doing here.

Come up with something - anything - that is different about your product and service. "Customer-focused" is overdone. Need inspiration? Refer to the list you just made on Customer Need, and start there by conjuring up the different ways your product satisfies those needs.

A common and very powerful adjective to convey differentiation is the word "new". This works when you can't come up with anything else, but you still need to come up with something real. There is only so much that marketing messaging can do for a weakly differentiated product or service.

Branding: Call to Action

List reasons they need to buy now.

Your benefits and customer need are clear. Your differentiation makes you special.

The Call to Action is only an optional part of the brand message, but it will go into all programs later. Your customer is just about convinced. Now tell them to buy, using an Offer or Solution:

Offers as often seen on TV are used for impulse-buy products we want, but do not need:

  • Discount: 30% off.
  • Expiration: Only good until Thursday.
  • Scarcity: They're flying off the shelves and we're about to run out.
Solutions are products we need but do not want, like legal work or a new roof.
  • Savings: It's costing you money not to have it now.
  • Problem: Your problems won't be solved until you have it.
  • Emotion: You'll be miserable until you have it.

Brand Statement

Combine it all into one statement.

Make columns for your Benefits, Customer Need, Differentiation and Call to action. For each column, you're going to pick the most important one.

In this example (for an aromatherapy candle), items are not related to each other horizontally. We are just prioritizing the most important elements from each column:

BenefitCustomer NeedDifferentiationCall to action
smells nicesmelly housecolorssmell nice today
relax your sensesgiftno paraffinbe eco-correct today
enjoy luxurycoldsustainableadd some cheer now

Looks like our brand message will include 'smells nice'; 'smelly house'; 'colors' and 'smell nice today'.

Brand Message Example

Take the previous lists you have made and combine them.

This is a well-constructed brand message:

''Win your case with Macpherson and MacGillicuddy. Put 20 years of success in insurance and civil litigation to work for you.''

  1. It's all about you: The benefits you receive - not what M & M does.
  2. 'Win your case' was the most popular customer need.
  3. Differentiation is provided with '20 years of success'.
  4. Call to Action tells them to buy with 'Put 20 years of ... to work for you'.
  5. Active tense is used throughout; E.G. 'Win' and 'Put 20 years of success' instead of 'We can help you win' and 'We have 20 years of experience'.