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Your brand messaging is the heart and soul of your organization’s communications strategy. Maintaining consistent messaging is one of the most important ways to make sure your patrons know who you are and what you stand for. Here are some common brand messaging mistakes, and how to fix them.

Your messaging is too broad

Specificity is essential. By targeting “everyone” as your ideal audience, you’re targeting no one. Remember that “the Specific is Universal.” By digging into specific, concrete details, rather than bland generalizations, your audience can internalize your message, and apply it to their own life experiences. You’ll be surprised at how getting granular in detail makes your messaging more relevant. Here are some questions to get you started: 

  • What is something only we can provide? 
  • What are we uniquely positioned to achieve? 
  • What makes us exceptional?

You are telling people who you are, not showing them

What stories demonstrate how your organization is living up to its mission? Instead of “We expose children to the arts,” try “Of the 500 New York City Public Schools students who attended our 2018 production of MacBeth free of charge, 80% had never seen live theater before.” Impactful stories and anecdotes become branding statements that show who you are. Use them when pitching stories to the press, share them on social media, and include them in grant applications. 

Your messaging isn’t memorable

If your team is having a hard time remembering your mission statement, you might have a problem. Well-written brand messaging is memorable and relatable. Here’s how to see how well your mission statement is internalized by the people who should know it best. 

  • Ask your employees to write the mission statement from memory. What parts did they remember? What parts were missed? 

If they can’t remember what the mission is, either you haven’t been communicating it clearly or your mission doesn’t represent what is actually happening at your organization. Explore the gaps and work to close them with specific, illustrative examples. 

The relationship between you and your target audience isn’t clear 

Establishing your relationship with your audience can help determine your voice. What is your ideal relationship between your brand and your patrons: Best friends? Teacher-student? Formal business acquaintances? 

When writing, modify the “setting” of the conversation, not the relationship. Best friends may speak differently while getting a manicure at the spa than they would at a funeral, but the core relationship remains the same no matter where they are. Similarly, different mediums may require tonal shifts: you’re not going to use the same type of writing on Twitter as in grant applications. By staying faithful to the relationship between you and your target audience, you can modify the tone without losing the voice. 

Your written brand messaging doesn’t align with your visual branding

Just as your words matter, how you visually represent yourself tells a story. You wouldn’t take a legal document as seriously if it was written in Comic Sans instead of Times New Roman. Since visuals are representations of thoughts and feelings, we recommend starting with your written branding first, and then building out your visual identity. Here’s an exercise to begin to identify disconnects: 

Look at your website, or a piece of marketing collateral. Without reading the text, what feelings or emotions do the colors, fonts, and images convey? Write down words and feelings that come to mind. Then, reference your written brand messaging for similarities and differences. What is consistent, and what needs refinement? 

 

Now that you know what to avoid in your messaging, you can begin to strengthen your branding. 

 For additional help and information schedule a Spark Session with us today! We will audit your brand messaging and highlight ways you can improve your copy for better results. 

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