Every word you write about your business, every image you share, and every design choice you make - all are part of your brand story.
Your brand shapes your identity as a business and is what makes you stand out. It's not just about your logos, colors, and fonts; your brand is the emotions and feelings you evoke in your audience to create a lasting impression.
You probably know your brand inside and out and how to talk about it. Especially if you're a small business owner, you likely are your brand.
It can be easy to think because you understand your brand so naturally that others will, too. But what about those outside agencies you work with? Or your new hires? How do you share with them what your brand says to your audience and how it says it?
If your brand is a character in a play, then your brand messaging book is the script it follows.
Your Brand Messaging Book: What Is It, And Why Do You Need One?
Your brand book is your North Star for maintaining a cohesive and impactful brand presence.
It gathers everything an outside source would need to know to create something for your business (such as a design, social copy, or website) that is unmistakably yours.
Successful branding requires being consistent. Wherever you show up, whether online, in print, or IRL, how you talk about what you do should be the same. The message can change, but the underlying story never wavers. This consistency builds trust with your audience; it allows them to feel safe and confident coming to you because they know exactly how you’ll show up for them.
As the calendar flips to a new year, it’s a perfect time for a micro-brand refresh and to review your brand guidelines. In particular, we’ll zero in on the part of a brand book we know best — the messaging: what should be in your brand messaging book, why it should be there, and some question prompts to get you started.
The Must-Haves In Your Brand Messaging Book
1) Who Are You Speaking To? Define Your Audience.
The number one rule for any business is to know your audience. Who you want to speak to will guide everything in your brand messaging. Are you a laid-back brand that uses trendy language to target Gen Z and Millenials? Are you a high-end luxury brand that never speaks in slang or abbreviations?
Think about who your brand is for, how you would speak to them, and develop your audience profiles - you might even create the identity of a person with a name, age, location, and all the details an actual human would have.
Questions to ask yourself: If I think of my ideal customer, what do they look like? How do they talk? How do they spend their day? What do they need to know?
2) Where Do You Stand? Identify Your Mission, Vision, and Values.
When your messaging is grounded in a strong sense of purpose, it’s more likely to resonate with your audience and helps you reinforce the type of business you run internally and to external partners.
Every successful brand has a mission, a vision for the future, and a set of core values that anchor their business and guide every decision, including how they speak. Your brand messaging book should convey these intentions and explain how they show up in copy to align with the brand's identity.
If you’re unsure what your brand’s mission, vision, and values are, the below questions can help get you started.
Questions to ask yourself: What gets me out of bed every morning? What steps do I take towards fulfilling the thing that gets me out of bed? What do I want to shine through in every message I share with my audience?
3) What Do You Say? The Key Messages, Hero Lines, and Taglines.
Develop a few concise and impactful messages that communicate the core attributes, services, and benefits of your brand. These messages should be versatile, with your brand messaging book providing examples of how they can be adapted for different audiences and platforms.
Your brand book should also include approved hero lines and taglines that capture the essence of your brand in just a few words, as well as guidelines on when and how to use them in copy.
Questions to ask yourself: How would I describe my business in five words? Three words? What needs to be reinforced for my audience?
4) How Do You Say It? Establish Your Brand Voice and Tone.
Think of your brand's voice as its personality. Are you witty or authoritative? Friendly or a bit more serious? Your brand messaging book should define your tone and voice as well as what communication style best represents your brand.
You’ll also want to consider the appropriate tones for different contexts and communication channels to sound authentic across various platforms. For example, how your brand voice shows up on social media could differ from how it sounds in a blog post (it might be more conversational on social and more informational on a blog).
Questions to ask yourself: If my ideal client was in front of me, how would I speak to them? How would I sound? What type of language and communication style would I use?
5) Where Do You Say It? Provide Channel-Specific Copy Guidelines.
Whether it's social media, your website, or email, your brand's voice should remain constant while still adapting to the nuances of each channel.
The messaging section of your brand book should guide your team and outside parties on how to adapt copywriting for specific platforms, including which platforms you use and why; this refers back to your audience profile and knowing where they show up online.
Questions to ask yourself: What’s the purpose of each of my marketing channels (i.e. social for community building, website for sales, email for acquisition)? How does my purpose for the channel change how I speak to my audience?
Your brand messaging book is not just a collection of guidelines but a powerful tool for shaping your brand narrative. As we enter the new year, take the opportunity to refresh and refine your brand identity. And if you need a little help, feel free to reach out to our team to get you started.