Brand messaging – the litmus paper of strategy

"Just tell me what you do!"

This post explores the relationship between brand strategy and brand message. Many would say that message is simply the expression of strategy. And in one sense they’d be right.

But we view brand message as more than that. We see it as the litmus paper of brand strategy.

Here’s why…

Brand strategy – love it or loathe it

When organisations look at defining or refining their brand strategy, it evokes both excitement and dread. Excitement, because building something is always stimulating. Dread, because it can be so difficult to reach conclusion.

Yet some sort of strategy is essential if a company or brand is to succeed. Without one, there’s a lack of clarity and direction for staff and customers alike.


Why does strategy become so complex?

After several hours of discussion and brainstorming in a brand strategy session, everyone starts thinking, why does this all have to be so complicated?

The simple reason is that brand strategy essentially revolves around the search for differentiation. And that’s more difficult than at any time in history, because the market is saturated. And so, the hunt for USPs is tough.


In the face of complexity, ask a simple question

If you find yourself bogged down in a mire of strategy, throw out this simple question:

“What can we say about ourselves or our product that no-one else is saying?”

This forces minds onto the end goal of brand strategy – the ability to say something that stands out. Now that can be difficult in itself, and often we have to settle for saying something that no-one else is saying loudly, rather than not saying at all. But it still gives a laser-like focus to strategic discussions and avoids the peril of abstract strategy that will mean nothing in the marketplace.


Use reverse engineering if things get sticky

Taking the simple-question concept a step further, it can be effective to approach brand strategy entirely through the messaging lens. In other words, all the discussion and brainstorming revolves around message-based questioning.

“Can we say this?” “Can we say that?” “Does anyone else focus on this?” Does anyone else shout about that?”

An effective brand strategy should produce a message that stands out. If it doesn’t, it’s just a non-strategy.


Make sure you KISS

The good old acronym, Keep It Simple Stupid, is essential when it comes to the outcome of brand strategy. The strategy may be complex, but the outcome must be simple. And that outcome should be a crystal-clear brand message.

The world is too cluttered for intricate messages containing dressed-up USPs and far-fetched claims. Your core brand message should be expressed in 10 seconds – and be understood!

Whatever it’s called in your brand strategy document (if you have one) – Value Proposition Statement, Elevator Pitch, Mission Statement or Strapline – the message must be simple and strong.

Because that is the proof of a real brand strategy.


We live and breathe brand messaging. We believe in its power to propel a brand forward and support business growth.

We always welcome a challenge and tailor our help to the scale of the need. Please make contact to discuss your brand messaging challenges.

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Unit A1, Mochdre Enterprise Park
Newtown, SY16 4LE

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