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What is a brand messaging framework?

If you want your audiences to be able to automatically recall a fascinating story about your organisation and its products or services, a messaging framework is really going to help. That’s because a messaging framework breaks down your organisation’s story into its component parts (or messages). Then it sets out which of these are going to resonate with each of your audiences. 

What does a messaging framework look like?

When we create messaging frameworks for organisations, they’re typically presented in a table – or even a series of tables. The columns show each audience group, then the rows show the order of messages.

What is a messaging framework made up of?

We’ve already said that a messaging framework looks like a table. However, what it represents is a hierarchy of information that you want your audiences to know about your brand. At Wordtree, we always think of this hierarchy as being pyramid-shaped. At the apex of this pyramid is your brand positioning.

Find out more about brand positioning here.

Your brand positioning should arch over all your other messaging. Then underneath that, you should have the messages that matter most to each of your audiences.

Why would you want to create a messaging framework?

Creating a messaging framework takes confidence and skill. Confidence, because you have to be extremely certain of the story you want to tell about your brand, or its individual products and services. You’ve also got to be confident that you know who your different audiences are – and what they need and expect from you. But if you have those things covered, creating a messaging framework brings a world of benefits:

  1. It sets out what the story is, so there aren’t internal debates every time you want to publish new information about your brand or products
  2. It makes sure your story is consistent – and this in turn means that your audiences will get to know and remember what your brand stands for quickly. This is important – because if you tell a slightly different version of your story every time you communicate with your audiences, you will quickly confuse people and they’ll filter you out. They won’t remember your brand, they won’t try it and they won’t recommend it
  3. It gives you a consistent point of reference. So if you gain a new audience, or you develop new features for your product, you’ll be able to work out the messaging for them in the context of all the other messaging

What happens if you don’t have a messaging framework?

In our opinion, if you don’t have a messaging framework, you’re making it harder (and more expensive) to tell your brand’s story.

Without structure, and an agreed, unilateral approach, telling a brand’s story can quickly become a complex, muddled business. Why? Because often there are multiple stakeholders who all hold slightly different views about what your story should be. New people join your team who may not fully understand your product or its customers yet. There can be pressure to copy what competitors are doing – or what someone heard at a conference. 

Without a messaging framework, telling your organisation’s story can become a tug of war. There can be rounds and rounds of versions of a single communication, with everyone throwing their two-penneth into the pot. Eventually, as deadlines loom, what you publish may simply be a diluted mishmash of what everyone wants to see. You’re no longer telling a story about your brand or product. Instead, you’re keeping key stakeholders happy. Customers won’t remember what you’re saying. They won’t see why your services are relevant to them. They may not even understand what you’re saying.

How do you create a messaging framework?

First of all, you need to create your top-level messaging – which is to say, the very top-level story you want to be known for, broken down into its constituent parts.

A framework will only work for you if your teams buy into it, adopt it and use it. So you need to talk to people. Gather all key stakeholders’ views on what they believe your product is, who your audiences are – and how it benefits them. Make sure people know that while you’re listening and taking note of what they say, the end result may differ from how they currently describe the product. Take time also to speak to your customers – and even your suppliers – to gather their views on what your organisation means to them.

You also need to research your marketplace. What are your competitors and closely related organisations doing and saying? How do you want to differentiate from them (and by how much)? And you need to be aware of trends and any up-coming changes that could affect the marketplace and your customers.

Based on this information, you create top-level messages. Let’s say your organisation is a mattress company whose apex message is, “Helping the world to sleep better”.

Your following messages might be:

  • Natural fibres for natural sleep
  • Different structures for different sleepers
  • Energising you and your family
  • Researching the best sleep 
  • Funding safe sleep across the world

These messages should be an in-a-nutshell, high-level representation of everything you do – and everything you represent to customers.

Next (or in parallel) you identify who your customers are (and could be) and develop insights into what matters to each group. You can read more of our thoughts about why it’s important to know your audiences here. 

The mattress company might identify the following groups as priority customers:

  • Young professionals
  • Parents of school-age children
  • Mid-life professionals

Parts of the mattress brand’s story are going to be more relevant to each of these groups (their research will identify which). So they then build a messaging framework to show what to say to each group. It could look something like this:

Young professionalsParents of school-age children Mid-life professionals
Message 1Energising you  Natural fibres for natural sleep Different structures for different sleepers 
Message 2Natural fibres for natural sleep Energising you and your family Energising you  
Message 3Different structures for different sleepers Different structures for different sleepers Natural fibres for natural sleep
Message 4Researching the best sleep  Researching the best sleep  Researching the best sleep  
Message 5Funding safe sleep across the world Funding safe sleep across the world Funding safe sleep across the world 

This is the beginning of a framework. The mattress company would then build it out further so that it accommodates different stages of a customer’s journey – as well as all the features that sit alongside every message. So “different structures for different sleepers”, for example, could then go into greater detail about the types of mattress and how to choose them.

How do you use a messaging framework?

Once it’s finished, a messaging framework should guide how all communications are written. This means it should become a tool that all communicators use to structure campaigns, websites, newsletters – in fact, any piece of written communication.

The framework shows what the key messages are at all stages of a customer journey. It is not, however, a bolt-together kit of sentences. So if we imagine that we’re using the mattress company’s messaging framework to target young professionals in conference programme, it would work like this:

Ad in conference programme
1. Energising youStart every day refreshed 
See the people full of energy at this conference? There’s a good chance they had the best sleep ever last night – on an XYZ mattress.
2. Natural fibres for natural sleep Made with pure, natural fibres, XYZ mattresses let you sleep purely and naturally – so you can get the most out of your day.
3. Different structures for different sleepers And because we know there are different types of sleepers, we know we’ll have a mattress that works for you.
4. Researching the best sleepWe know you’re working hard – and we are too, using very latest findings in sleep science to create the perfect sleeping environment for you.
5. Safe sleep across the world And here’s something to help you sleep even more soundly. Every time you buy an XYZ mattress, we donate £10 to the ABC Foundation, which gives homeless people in cities all over the world a safe space to sleep.

If you think your organisation would benefit from a brand messaging system, then please do contact us. We’ll always be interested to hear about your challenges.