What Goes In a Brand Messaging Guide?

A woman is smiling in front of a microphone.

How do you know what to say to your clients? How do you know how to speak to leads on social media or what to write in your email newsletters?

Most of the time when my clients launch their websites, they are so very excited about the marketing possibilities they have in the future. But, there’s also quite a bit of concern and fear about how to take the message they’ve created during the time we’ve worked together and translate that into the future for all of the content they create.

Well, I don’t want to oversimplify this for you. But I do have an easy answer.

The best way to feel confident in all of your marketing and messaging is by investing in a brand messaging guide that clearly lays out your mission, your vision, your values, your voice, your tone, how you speak to your audience, and the other key factors that go into all of your brand messaging.

With a brand messaging guide, you’ll gain the confidence to know how to approach all of your marketing now and into the future. You’ll also have a tool that helps any employees or contractors you work with nail your messaging so your brand is always consistent — and consistent brands make for trustworthy brands.

Copy says: Listen in to this episode of the Talk Copy to Me podcast

Curious about what actually goes in a brand messaging guide? Here’s what this episode covers:

  • Why brand messaging guides are important for all businesses
  • Why brand messaging doesn’t get the credit they truly deserve
  • What type of research needs to happen in order to prepare to create a brand messaging guide
  • How brand messaging guides influence all the other marketing strategies and assets you create
  • Who you can share your brand messaging guide with and why it helps them do their job better
  • The 10 most important elements all brand messaging guides need
  • What drives those 10 elements so you understand exactly what goes into each section (The meat of the episode happens right here!)
  • How brand messaging can help make you make business and marketing decisions
quotes from this episode of the Talk Copy to Me copywriting podcast

Quotes about case studies from this episode

“Brand messaging is vital to your business. It’s something that you want to create and add to as you grow within your business. And it’s something that can really drive all of your marketing and sales decisions in the future.” — Erin Ollila

“We want to look at the guide as an indicator of what we need to do now, what decisions we need to make now, how we want to come across in our marketing now, not for our future goals, because that’s not the business we’re living in the present.” — Erin Ollila

“I would never suggest anyone dictate their voice and tone tone based on their clients. But I do think your clients can give you a clue, like who you love working with, who you want to attract, can give you a clue about the ways you like to communicate with them. And how you like to communicate with them is how you show up in your own voice and tone.” — Erin Ollila

Get to Know the Host of the Talk Copy to Me Podcast Erin Ollila

Learn more about your host, Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and went on to co-found Spry, an award-winning online literary journal.

When Erin’s not helping her clients understand their website data or improve their website copy, you can catch her hosting the Talk Copy to Me podcast and guesting on shows such as Profit is a Choice, The Driven Woman Entrepreneur, Go Pitch Yourself, and Counsel Cast.

Stay in touch with Erin Ollila, SEO website copywriter:

  • Book a Copy Coaching Power Hour if you want to strategize your brand messaging guide instead of doing it completely on your own
  • Learn more about my VIP intensives. Hint hint: I can complete a brand messaging guide for you in one intensive!
  • Reach out on InstagramFacebook or on LinkedIn to talk more about brand messaging with me!

Here’s the transcript for episode 020 all about what goes into a brand messaging guide:

NOTE: This podcast was transcribed by an AI tool. Please forgive any typos or errors. SUMMARY KEYWORDS brand messaging, brand messaging guide, brand, guide, business, marketing, people, showcase, podcast, share, create, offer, tone, sales, values, audience, voice, mentioned, website, assets SPEAKERS Erin Ollila Erin Ollila 00:00 How do you know what to say to your clients what to say on social media or write in your email newsletters, most of the time when my clients launched their website, they’re so excited about the possibilities of the marketing that they can do in the future. But there’s also a lot of concern and fear about how to take the message they’ve created during the time we’ve worked together and translate that into the future for all of the content they create. Well, I don’t want to oversimplify this for you. But I do have an easy answer. The best way to feel confident in all of your marketing and messaging is by investing in a brand messaging guide, that clearly lays out your mission, your vision, your values, your voice, your tone, how you speak to your audience, and the key factors that go into all of your brand messaging, we’re kicking off a new series here on the top copy to me podcast, where we’re diving deep into brand messaging, and how it affects all of your marketing choices. We’re going to cover what goes in a brand messaging guide, How to use that brand messaging guide to repurpose content and create new content, what voice of customer research is and how to go about getting it and using it in your business. The difference between brand messaging and brand style, especially when it comes to things like design and the visuals that you see. And then we’ll end this series by talking with someone about how to really show up as yourself in your business, how to identify what that is, and then make marketing choices based on that information that really feels good for you. So today, I’m here for a solo episode, to talk to you about what a brand messaging guide is. I will tell you brand messaging guides go by various names online, you might hear them as a brand style guide, a brand tone and voice guide, maybe they’ll simply be called brand guidelines or brand positioning, I want to point out that when you are looking to hire someone for something like a brand messaging guide, you really want to find out what comes with that guide. Because when I hear style guide, it brings me back to my days of working within an agency. And a style guide covers a lot of things such as editorial choices and design choices. Now I point out that maybe a style guide is what you need. Maybe you need something that talks about both the visual assets as well as the copy assets. Maybe you need that editorial guidelines that tell you, you know how to go about linking within your content, what you would do, if you are making style choices, such as grammar choices, those things are important. So I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t be thinking of them, you should, I would argue that the best place to start is brand messaging. Once you have your messaging down and you’re aware of who you’re talking to, and how you’re talking to them, you’re going to want to upgrade and get a visual style guide. So you’re aware on how to take that messaging and translate that into the visuals within your brand. And then once you’ve graduated from that place, you’re gonna want to go out and create a full brand style guide that covers your messaging, your visual marketing, and all of the intricate little details that come along with both. So no, today’s episode is really going to focus on that messaging factor, whether you call it the brand messaging guide, the style guide, the tone and voice guide, or just simply brand guidelines, we’re going to cover how to go about determining how you show up in your business, the tone of what you share, the reason why you share this message, and how the overall message that you share really dictates that type of relationship you build with your audience and how you can potentially convert you know the random people in your audience into either being leads or ideally clients for your business. In my humble little opinion, I don’t think brand messaging guides get the credit that they really deserve. You know, when I create them for my website, copy clients, what I’m doing is I’m researching their competitors, their clients, their position within their industry, their mission, their vision, their values, and I’m turning that all into a bit of a brand story. Now once we have that brand story, we’re then able to indicate things like brand pillars or how we approach content and emails and sales even. Which brings me to a really good point because one great thing about brand messaging guides is while they can help us as a foundation every level of how we approach marketing They can really be built upon for things such as individual sales plans. So let’s say that you are a service provider who has one, you know, big course launch every year where you do a group program, your brand messaging guide may serve you in the beginning of your business just by helping you understand the voice and tone of your marketing, and then how to, you know, put that into your messaging. But later, you can build upon a brand messaging guide to make it very clear how to use that internal messaging and marketing data to drive more sales for your course launches. These guides are great for being able to share with employees or contractors who are doing things like social media marketing for you, or even client experience customer service, really, so that they know who you are as a business owner and as a brand overall, then you just build upon them as you keep learning about your business, learning about yourself as a salesperson, learning about how you approach your sales funnel and things like that. And all the data that you can collect can really help all of the people that you work with, like a copywriter. So you know, we just had a great series on sales. And a lot of the people that I interviewed for those that series mentioned, you know, we need to be able to look at things like brand messaging to indicate how we approach your sales deck, how we approach that sales funnel and how we do that from an ethical way, and a way that really feels aligned with your business. So I will get off my soapbox now about the importance of brand messaging, I think it’s clear to say that it is something that is really vital to your business. It’s something that you want to create and add to as you grow within your business. And it’s something that can really drive all of your marketing and sales decisions in the future. All right, so I will step off my soapbox now. And let’s talk about what goes into a brand messaging guide. And again, remember guys, we’re just focusing today on the message, the copy the overall positioning of the marketing message. So a brand messaging guide includes some core elements, I’m going to review them quickly. And then I will go through each one of those so you understand what they mean, and why you need them as well as how to include them if you’re creating your own messaging guide. Or maybe if you’re just want to find a copywriter who can create one for you or update what you currently have. So a brand messaging guide will review your business’s mission, vision values, it will also talk about your ideal audience and I really like to advocate you’ve heard me say this before, that your audience should cover a multi faceted group of individuals. Yes, I do believe that when you’re creating content you should speak to one specific group within that you know target audience that you’re creating. So you know taking again, my my used car lot example that I think I just shared in the previous episode, if you go to a used car lot, they’re selling to all type of individuals to have the potential stereotypical people that they may be selling to is a soccer mom who wants to transport a, you know a bunch of kids in a minivan, as well as a midlife crisis man who wants to have a sexy, flashy convertible. Those are two very different types of ideal clients with different needs in different interests. But again, the their main goal is to purchase a car. So if we think of our clients in similar ways, we might want to indicate that they have specific needs specific interests, different levels of readiness and awareness and different, you know, motivations for working with us. But when push comes to shove, they’re going to hire us for one specific thing. So I think you should spend some time I guess, is what I’m trying to say within this, the audience personas that you create and the research that you put into your messaging. But let’s get back to what is in the messaging guide before I go too deep into them. The value proposition will also be within your brand messaging guide, as well as potentially things like your core offers. Your brand voice and tone should absolutely be a major facet of your guide. And then things like a brand story if there is a very, you know, clear story about how your brand was formed or you know what your brand plans to do in the future. Your elevator pitch is a great thing to put in here. You could also potentially put different BIOS maybe you have a very short bio that you would share. That’s part of your elevator pitch when you meet new people, longer bios that you would share if you’re doing a guest interview like a podcast or maybe you’re going wanting to be a coach in someone’s program bios that you would use on your own website. Some messaging guides also include instructions for how to show up on social media or in your email marketing or other types of content creation. For example, because I have a podcast, my own brand messaging guides talk about how I present my messaging within my podcast specifically, because that’s important to my overall marketing plans. Now, if you don’t have a podcast, you wouldn’t have a podcast section, right? Even if it’s something you know, you want to do in the future for your business, simplify the work that goes into a brand messaging guide, by creating it for who you are, at this moment of your business, as well as what type of messaging you have at this point, then add to it later. I do love to have future goals in my brain messaging guides. So for example, if I did have a client that knew they wanted to have a podcast, but that was not necessarily their, you know, immediate marketing plans, or maybe they wanted to launch a course in the future, they just don’t have it planned out yet, then I would have that as the future goals. So within a future goals section, we’ll talk about maybe how we’d like to be portrayed in these things. But that section is always short and sweet. Because again, when we hand off these brand messaging guides to people we work with, or we use them ourselves. If you like, for example, you’re a solopreneur, and you’re doing all your own marketing, we want to look at the guide as an indicator of what we need to do now, what decisions we need to make now, how we want to come across in our marketing now, not for our future goals, because that’s not the business we’re living in the present. So absolutely 100%, consider adding a future goals to your brand messaging guide. So you can take some notes on how you would like to show up in those different marketing assets later, different, you know, sales funnel and sales strategy approaches that you’d like to take. But don’t make your brand messaging guide for a future you for a future business that doesn’t exist yet. Your brand messaging asset really needs to be a great indicator of who you are in business at this very moment. All right, so let’s dive into all of those core elements that I talked about. And I will share kind of a quick overview on what they all mean, and why they’re important for your guide. I mentioned that mission, vision and values was my starting point with my brand messaging guides. And these are some of my favorite sections. Your mission statement explains what your business was created for? Why does it exist? Who are you trying to serve? And for what reason? The vision statement within your brand messaging guide helps showcase what you’re working toward? Like what’s your main goal overall, the vision statement really helps you make the decisions that you need to make in your business. Because you can reference it and say, you know, like, is this choice I’m trying to make actually helping me work toward my vision, or is this something that maybe sounds fun or exciting, but isn’t really driving me toward the place that my vision wants me to go. So I really believe your mission and your vision are great checkpoints for you as the business owner, or for any of those contractors or employees that may be referencing your brand messaging guide to say to themselves or yourself, you know, this is what I stand for, in the sense of this is what my business is trying to do. And this is what I’m working toward in my business. Now let’s talk about those core values. Though. When I mentioned about making decision, your values are really the things that drive you to know you’re making the right decision when it comes to things like mission and vision. You know, what are the guiding principles that you have about your business, you know, and really your brand, how you’re showing up. You really want to embody these values, in your marketing in the messaging that you have on all your marketing assets and in how you show up for your clients. values can be both things that you personally stand for, as well as some of the main tenants or pillars that you find yourself coming back to time and time again in your business. So as an example, one value that I personally stand for that also drives a lot of my business decisions is that I am committed to equity, diversity and inclusion across race, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion and experience and I make that value statement. and clearly showcased on every single page of my website because it is important to me as a person and also as a business owner. But another value, which is very different from sharing that personal belief is a value of transparency. I like to be very clear about how I run my business, and how I work with clients and where I am an expert and where I am not. So you will not see me sugarcoating things. I’m just a transparent person. And I’m willing to showcase my faults, as well as the things that I Accela. So two different types of values. And I think that you can have a lot of fun in these first few sections where you share the mission, vision and values. So the next section that needs to get covered in a brand messaging guide is your ideal audience profile personas, however, you want to address that, you’re gonna want to do some research into who you like to work with. But more importantly, hear what their needs are, what drives them, what motivates them to purchase their levels of readiness to purchase their levels of awareness about what it is that you offer, and whether or not they even need it. You know, the problems that they have the desires that they have the types of objections that they may have to working with you. Because you need to be able to reference that in your messaging. It isn’t all about you know, what type of shoes your ideal personas would wear, or you know what music would be the soundtrack of their life, we want to know what helps them make decisions. And we want to know what they’re ruminating about. So that way, we can talk to them within our messaging. So I mentioned your ideal audience profile really needs to cover a few of the different types of clients that you want to work with. And you’re going to want to do all of those things I just said for each type of client. Again, I promise I’m going to stop talking about the US Sales Law. But they’re going to have a different way to speak to the soccer moms in the minivans and the midlife crisis men with a convertibles. I’m going to put a big caveat here. Sorry, everyone, for those stereotypes, I just want to give you a glimpse into something I think you’ll understand by using those examples. They have different needs. They have different desires, they have different objections to the actual purchase, right? So you’re going to need to know all of those for the different types of clients that you have. And while we’re speaking about clients, let’s also think about value proposition. Your value proposition is what sets your business and brand apart from all of your competitors. What’s the value that your company brings to your clients? Why should they choose you to buy their products, I mean, your excuse me to buy your products, or to purchase your services, when they could buy it from any of your competitors. So a value proposition is an absolute must have in your brand messaging guide. Now, let’s not forget about your core offers, right? We talked about that as being one of the key elements you really need in here. What is it that you offer your clients, if you’re a product based business, you want to lay out every single product you have within your brand messaging guide. If you have product descriptions, put them there, or if you want to just have a very quick bullet points or one sentence that describes the products. So that way, people who may use your brand messaging guide to write about your products, or share them on social media, for example, can know what your products offer the people who purchase them. If you are a services based business, what services do you offer, again, you want all of your offers and services in here, you don’t want to leave any of them out. You don’t want to just put like your one big main offer. You know, using myself as an example, I am a website copywriter. So most people come to me for website copy. But in addition to my biggest offer, which is the website copy, I also have an SEO offer. I also have an offer for a website audit. I also do copy coaching with my clients, you know, and VIP days too. So these are all offers and the way that I position them and the messaging that I share around them may be slightly different because the types of people who would purchase those things are potentially different than the type of people who are looking for a full website copywriting project, your brand voice and tone are going to be again one of the key things in your brand messaging guide. And I know I keep saying that, but how you speak to your audience is key for every marketing decision, and every marketing asset you create in the future. Do you have a professional tone? Are you a collegiate type of maybe Research tone. Are you fun and spunky? And everything has a pun in it or maybe a reference to pop culture shows like shits creek or Ted lasso? You know, there’s no one right way to have your brain, your brand voice and tone be portrayed? How do you want to be portrayed? How do you want your audience to see you as a business owner, the face of your business or as a business, outside of who you are, you get to make that decision. And you’re going to make that by looking within your own values by trying to find alignment on how you want to show up within your business, you’re also going to find that based on the type of people you want to work with, so I would never suggest anyone dictate their voice and tone tone based on their clients. But I do think your clients can give you a clue, like who you love working with, who you want to attract, can give you a clue about the ways you like to communicate with them. And how you like to communicate with them is how you show up in your own voice and tone. So taking all of those things that I just mentioned, you’re able to build your brand story, you know, and to do that you can talk about your starting point, any turning points or you know, currently where you are within your business. And remember, always share that story based on a way that you want to be portrayed. So I tell people, there’s a really, you know, slippery slope between showing yourself that you can empathize with the problems your clients have, and also showcasing that you are the expert to, to solve those problems for them. So for you, you know, share your brand story, you know, you can be authentic, you can be transparent, like I say is one of my core values. But make sure that when you share that brand story, you’re doing it in a way that still showcases you’re the expert that can help them get a transformation. Finally, the other goodies that I mentioned is your elevator pitch, you want to make sure that you know your elevator pitch showcases that value proposition as well as the mission and vision you know, it’s easy to say who you are, who you serve, how you serve them, and potentially even a win that you’ve gotten for your clients. And that’s it to sum up your elevator pitch. And if there’s any notes, you want to leave there about how you’d like to be seen in different biographies. Like I mentioned, if you’re a podcast guests, or if you are doing public speaking, you’re also going to want to put that within the section of your about slash elevator pitch section. And then finally, you should also have something within your guide that showcases how you would like to show up on social media and in different marketing platforms, like your email lists, a YouTube channel, a podcast, whatever big marketing asset you have, there should be some instructions for how to take all of these other things we talked about, like your brand, voice, your core values, and showcase them within these marketing assets. And when I say instructions, what I mean is saying like, you know, on social media, I really love to share educational content. And I also like to share my client case studies and testimonials. That’s how I show up on social media as an example. And then the people who help you with these things, or yourself, if you’re leading your own marketing efforts, are able to say, Okay, there’s no more questions about what to post or what to share, I know exactly how to show up. Same thing for your email lists. Same thing as a podcast, for example, I know that there are specific topics that I want to talk about on this show that are aligned with marketing, messaging and copywriting. You know, there are other topics I like to discuss, for example, my love of ice cream, but you’re not necessarily going to have an entire episode about ice cream, which I actually don’t want to say that because who knows, I really do love ice cream enough to talk about it for a whole episode. But all joking aside, that would be clearly indicated within my brand messaging guide as how I want my podcast to appear and what I’d like to discuss, and what type of presence I want to have as a podcast hosts. So I know that there was a lot of information in here, you know, there are those 10 core things that your brand messaging guide really needs to have. Like I mentioned, maybe you have to complete the guide has a whole a future section with the goals and the marketing assets you’d like to do in the future, or have in the future. And within that section, you have a few notes on how you would like the messaging to appear. But besides that, don’t overcomplicate this right. Set the Foundation have one brand messaging guide that leads your business as a whole. And then when things change within your business, you update it like I mentioned before If you have sales that you’re going to be doing, take the data that you have from that, put it in your brand messaging guide. So update it as you’re growing and keep your brand messaging guide consistent for who you are and your business at this very moment. Okay, guys, that’s it for today’s episode. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re gonna have a few more episodes within this series that talk about how to use a brand messaging guide, what the voice of client research is and why it’s important when it especially when we talk about brand messaging, as well as how to show up authentically within your business and the difference between brand messaging and brand style and how they actually work together. So I hope you stick around for the next few episodes. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram after you listen to this show. And until next week, guys, I hope you have a wonderful week.
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