For most firms, it might seem that everyone has a similar story to tell. The type of projects completed, the process utilized and the services offered may be quite similar from one firm to the next. So how do you rise above the clutter in a crowded marketplace? How do you tell a story that’s uniquely your own? That’s where a strong, cohesive brand comes into play.
As marketers, our job is to craft a brand identity that reflects the vision and culture of our organization and connects with prospective clients. This is not a simple task. It requires a unique mix of research, strategy, collaboration and execution. However, when built well and managed effectively, a strong brand can be the point of distinction that captures attention, gains recognition and creates new meaningful relationships.
When one experiences a brand, it’s the visual identity that makes the initial connection. In fact, research has shown that one will form an opinion about a brand within the first second they experience the brand’s design. As a design oriented firm, we understand the power of great design and this statistic only reinforces our belief. However, we understand that the design is just one part of a brand’s identity.
CRAFTING YOUR MESSAGE
While a great design may capture initial attention, it is the key messaging that keeps one engaged. Whether in print or online, powerful headlines, strong calls to action and well-positioned callouts will entice the reader to learn more.
To craft the right messaging, we recommend starting at the end. In other words, start by defining what you want the desired behavior to be from your target audience. This might be a request for information, to be perceived as a thought leader, or to download a case study. Whatever it is, defining what you want the user or reader to do is the first step.
As you work to define each and every key message, keep your desired behaviors in the forefront. Measure whether each key message will help you achieve the intended results. If it is not aligned, throw it out and develop one that is aligned. This is particularly helpful when facing internal pressures. The viewpoint of a key executive can be misaligned with your desired behaviors and while all voices need to be heard, in the end your key messages need to lead to a desired result.
WRITING FOR EACH AUDIENCE TYPE
As you develop your key messages, keep in mind that there are two primary types of audiences. First is the glancer. This is the majority of people. A glancer briefly reviews your information by reading headlines and callouts. The glancer typically will not read much deeper.
To appeal to this type of reader, make sure you have key messaging that will give the glancer a complete thought to understand. For example, replace a typical headline that says “our team” with one such as “We have a seasoned executive team with unparalleled experience in the healthcare market”.
Often one will be a glancer if they are doing preliminary research and are comparing your firm versus others. Typically, this will be at the early stages of engagement. For example, they may be at the beginning steps of a project and are trying to decide whom to consider for a RFQ or RFP.
The other audience type is the reader. This is the person who will read your headlines along with the supporting content. While the reader may be the minority, a reader can often turn into a highly valuable prospective client. Their strong interest in your content should be a huge indicator that there may be a sincere interest in working with your firm.
Often one will become a reader if they find the key message engaging enough to want to learn more. It should be our goal to turn all glancers into readers through great key messaging and visual components.
TIPS FOR DEVELOPING THE RIGHT MESSAGING
Keep it simple and focused
People are busy and don’t have time to decipher your message. So keep it simple and focused to ensure you connect with your target audiences.
Conduct client research
With content, often what you think is important might not be important in your client’s eyes. For example, you may think your history is very important but may find it had little impact with a client’s decision. Conduct a few client interviews to understand what were the “trigger points” that lead to your firm gaining their business. Also, try to get information from lost business opportunities to understand what the perceived deficits were. It’s valuable input.
Write with a consistent tone
Whether you choose to be casual and approachable or ultra professional and corporate, make sure you keep your tone consistent when writing your key messages and supporting copy.
Align your visuals with your message
With your key messages, utilize visuals for support. Whether an image, icon, graphic or chart, the right visuals will help you better convey your message and will lead to better comprehension.
Bring in a professional writer to help
If you find you need some help, don’t be afraid to bring in a professional writer to help you define and craft your key messaging. You’ll find it’s worth every penny spent.
To summarize, key messaging is an integral part of every successful brand. While the visual identity of your brand may capture their admiration at the onset, it is the key messaging and the supporting content that will keep one engaged and interested. The right key messaging will build trust, instill confidence and encourage engagement. These are actions that will lead to the positive outcomes you desire.