In a world where the way we consume information is constantly changing, and where there is increasing skepticism of brands and media, one fact remains true — authenticity is everything. Today’s consumers have thousands upon thousands of brands to seek out for their goods and services, meaning that the need to create a real-human connection is ever-present. At Fose + McKay, we like to partner with clients launching a brand or undergoing a brand transformation in order to manage the process and help advise your decision-making toward an authentic identity that mirrors what you’re setting out to bring to the world.
We work to coordinate all client marketing efforts in alignment with a unique brand vision in a way that creates a bold and distinguished presence. We always begin this process by creating a powerful brand tone and values to guide creative and messaging throughout the entire marketing process.
Tone. The tone is not what you say, but how you say it. For some clients, we recommend their tone be polished, determined or sophisticated, while for others we may suggest being energizing, fun and witty. Nielsen Norman Group, for example, has this down to a science – their two-part experiment found that different tones of voice on a website have measurable impacts on users’ perceptions of a brand’s friendliness, trustworthiness, and desirability, with casual, conversational, and enthusiastic tones performing the best. But, regardless of where your organization falls on this spectrum, your brand tone should carry through to all of your written copy, including website content, social media messages, talking points and print collateral.
Values. In order to begin building the brand vision, we must first understand the unique role that your organization plays for your target audience, and cross-reference this with the marketing materials you’re putting out into the world. We analyze where your successes are, where there are gaps, and then develop a list of values needed to be met between the two. This is typically a combination of organizational characteristics, values and attributes, as well as a reflection what other industry stakeholders expect and rely on your organization to deliver.
Tagline Development. After we’ve solidified your brand values, we’ll compose a captivating tagline that embodies what these values say about your organization. The art of crafting a memorable and descriptive tagline can be quite complex. However, this small piece of content plays a big role as it endures in the minds of your audience long after they’ve disconnected from your brand visuals.
Messaging Framework. Next, we begin the narrative process. We recommend doing this through the messaging house framework, which allows for one overarching, thematic message to serve as the most important aspect of your organization, through which all of your work is grounded. This message then funnels down to develop core messages and supporting messages tailored to your variety of organizational areas and offerings. These messages will be developed with your goals and KPIs serving as the main priorities, while bringing in color and supporting details from the tone and tagline developed all the while, flowing into a coherent narrative for your company.
While this framework is simple, effective and easily deployable, there are so many ways to evolve your messaging to work better and harder for your brand. Take Harvard Business Review’s “Eight Ways to Communicate Your Strategy More Effectively,” as a prime example.
Typically, once we have a firm understanding of a brand identity and messaging, we’ll use the content in the messaging ladder to create a branded guide of captivating marketing collateral that has the ability to connect with each of your target demographics. These materials will play a large role in forming a cohesive collection that can be distributed seamlessly to attract your target audience and inform them in a nimble and creative way.
Your messaging ladder also comes into play during the following marketing pushes….
Speaker’s Training. We often recommend hosting a speaker’s training for stakeholders and key messengers to ensure we consistently deliver an on-brand, winning message.
Field Operations. Our team often supports clients with efforts on the ground at events, and are prepared with talking points that serve your brand.
Earned Media. These efforts include drafting letters to local editors, coaching clients to participate in editorial boards and sponsoring media-hosted events.
Brand Ambassador Programs. We love hosting workshops that instructs team members on how and when to use company messaging effectively on their own channels.
Today, the rapid expansion of digital and social media has created a landscape where organizations must constantly be pushing out content to their audiences to remain relevant — even when it comes to the most trusted of brands.
This intense cycle often results in messaging and creative that doesn’t always echo the organization’s mission. We can let unfocused communications define a brand, or we can proactively manage the funnel to guide decision-making toward an authentic and iconic identity.
Clear and compelling messaging will add increased focus and create memorable moments around everything you and your peers do in service of your brand.