What's in a Name? One Way to Look at Organizing Your Brand Messaging Structure

October 26, 2019

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Value Prop. Pillars. Mission. Vision. Values. Big Idea. Promise. Essence…. What do all of these words actually mean for your brand? And once you have them, what do you do with them? If you Google them, you will find a dozen different definitions for each. Establishing a messaging and positioning platform for your brand is a daunting task, but one well worth undertaking. While we are not the final word on brand structure nomenclature, or whether you should use “essence,” “big idea” or “promise,” we definitely believe in defining how you exist (or want to exist) in the hearts and minds of your customers.

Below is a handy guide to consider as you start on your brand evolution. 

Mission: Why do we exist? Like, REALLY why do we exist? To make money? Well, of course, but what is our organization’s most important goal? What is our contribution to society, to business or to our industry?

  • What do we do with our mission? Our mission should inform decisions about everything from hiring to products and services to brand visuals. Are all the changes we are considering in service of our mission?

Vision: What are our objectives as a company? What key problem are we trying to solve? What does the success of our mission look like? How does the world change because we are in it?

  • What do we do with our vision? Our vision informs how we speak to our audience about why they should care about us and our mission. If our mission is about the journey we are on, our vision is about theirs.

Values: What are the 3 – 4 qualities that are most important to our business and how we run it? Is it creativity? Efficiency? Honesty? What qualities will we never sacrifice under any circumstances?

  • What do we do with our values? Our values are our moral compass. Look to them to decide who aligns with our values and who we want as partners, customers and employees.

Brand Promise: What are the 3 things we believe in? What overarching qualities describe our products and services? Speed? Value? Uniqueness? Innovation? What do all of our products and services have in common?

  • What do we do with our brand promise? When describing our products and services, make sure that the language checks some or all of the boxes from our brand promise.

Value Prop: How do we solve customer problems? This is a business question. Do we save our customers’ money? Do we empower them to do things they couldn’t otherwise? Do we improve their lives or their products?

  • What do we do with our value prop? This is our straight-up business proposition. If you engage with us, if you buy our products and services, you are guaranteed to experience change for the better. Our value prop should drive campaigns, headlines and umbrella messaging.

Tone and Language: What are the 3 – 4 adjectives that describe how we talk about ourselves? Are we serious or fun? Are we aggressive or compassionate? What voice do we use when talking about ourselves versus talking about our customers?

  • What do we do with tone and language? Tone and language are the guardrails and voice direction for anyone who creates content for our brand. It is a gut check for consistency throughout all copy online, in print, social media, even personal emails.

Elevator Pitch: What are 2 – 3 sentences to describe ourselves in plain language?

  • What do we do with our elevator pitch? When someone asks what you do, don’t just give them your job title, tell them what you actually do. At 9thWonder, we don’t “do marketing,” we build brands that have both immediate and lasting impact.

Target Audiences: Who are the people we want to resonate with? What are their job titles? Where do they live? What do they truly, personally need from your specific products and services?

  • What do we do with target audiences? Whether in person, via email, over the phone or through targeted marketing initiatives, consider which audience you are addressing, and what are their specific motivations, pain points, fears and desires? How does your value prop address them all?

Differentiators: What can we say about ourselves that is both compelling and believable? How are our product, delivery model, features, services or even look and feel distinctive among the competition?

  • What do we do with our differentiators? Differentiators enable us to not only create unique and compelling content, but to identify and better target audiences that will respond specifically to them. Seek out demographics who use products and services from other industry verticals, but that may align with our differentiators.

Headline Benefits: How do our clients change from working with us? What are the actual, tactile benefits and results that customers will experience? What are the specific metrics we know we can deliver?

  • What do we do with headline benefits? Headline benefits should drive content strategy and help inform content creation and even keyword strategy moving forward. Aligning topics that we know are interesting to customers with high-search-volume keywords makes for more powerful content marketing.

Supporting Examples: What are the specific proof points that support our claims?

  • What do we do with supporting examples? Supporting examples are the case study headlines, social proof and use cases that we create to back up all of the other messaging pieces. We can make all these claims about mission, promise and value prop, because we have put our money where our mouth is.
Lisa Hillmer-Poole

Lisa Hillmer-Poole is the Managing Director of 9thWonder's Denver Office. With more than 18 years of combined agency and in-house marketing experience. Lisa partners with Senior Agency Management, Account Managers and clients to strategize, develop and execute long-range communications and digital marketing plans. Serving as liaison between her team and Development, Design, Search, and Senior Agency Management, Lisa plays a key role in developing the next generation of account management talent at 9thWonder.

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