Why Your Features Don’t Function: A Lesson in Brand Messaging
Written by Katie Hansen
Sometimes you try to please everybody and end up pleasing no one. A crucial lesson to learn in life and business. It’s one our team often drives home with our clients. When it comes to brand messaging, many businesses will overgeneralize to reach the broadest audience and not exclude anyone. Or, they will try to include all their brand’s features and offerings up front and in one swoop, creating the most eye-crossing, laundry-listing heap of copy – a real run-on sentence kind of hell for a reader. At the end of the day, a brand’s features don’t sell it and a brand’s clarity will.
Regardless the touch point, a company needs to have a clear focus and a strong message that communicates to readers with ease. We are all bombarded with marketing on the daily, making us numb to most messages, and your brand is no exception. If your messaging is too vague, your audiences are sure to scan, ignore or delete, and move on. A few small adjustments to your company’s story can have a major impact on your ability to reach the people you want to engage.
Lead With Value and Be Specific
Fight the urge to lead with a listing of your features and show your audience you have a clear purpose that is meaningful to them. While you may argue that your audience is broad and their needs vary, chances are there is one key issue that concerns the majority; that is what you need to address. Be specific when outlining your company’s strengths. Consider the primary value your brand offers and lead with that! What are your audience’s top goals, priorities, and pain points? Consider their perspective, and then communicate in a way that shows you understand their situation and can make their life better.
Show Empathy and Authority
Once you’ve identified the main pain points your audience is facing, let them know you understand where they’re coming from and show them you have the expertise and experience needed to fix the situation. People often shy away from mentioning a problem for fear of using language that is negatively perceived, however, showing your audience you’ve taken the time to assess their situation (and better yet, have lived it before) only adds to your credibility.
Let Your Audience See Themselves
Using an active voice will help your audience envision themselves in your story and using your brand. They are the hero of the story, not your brand. Passive vocabulary is too general, soft, and easy to ignore. Stick to the first person and use bold word selections that will grab your audience’s attention.
Show What Success Looks Like
Your ultimate goal is to make your audience’s day, week…life better! Use your company messaging to highlight exactly how you will improve their situation instead of simply listing products and services. You want to make it very clear that things will look brighter after choosing your brand, so give examples of the improvements they can expect to see.
Evolving your company’s story is something you can do on your own – after all, who knows your company better than you do? But it can also be helpful to have some guidance along the way. If you’re looking for a roadmap for how to clarify your message, check out Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller. This book is an invaluable resource for understanding why people choose particular brands, how to address clients’ needs and how to create the most effective marketing messaging possible. Miller takes you through the steps of identifying your audience, their needs, their problems and your solution. The psychology involved in decision-making and purchasing behavior is complex, and this book will help you unpack the layers to find the best course of action for your business.
Getting an outside perspective can also be helpful when it comes to shifting your company’s voice. Being too close to the source can create a blinder effect and leave you unaware of what changes need to happen. An outside third party can help to identify the areas where your messaging needs improvement and can guide you towards developing a clearer story. If you think you may need a hand, we’d be happy to review your current messaging and offer our consultation on your next steps. Just drop us a line!