What *is* messaging?

In the first four episodes of brand voice notes, we took a quick canter round the basics of tone of voice. Now we're looking at the basics of messaging — another important piece of the brand language strategy puzzle.

What is messaging? What purpose does it serve? Why is it important? Watch along to find out.


Hi there, welcome to episode five of brand voice notes. Thanks for joining me. My name is Felicity Wild, I'm a brand voice and messaging specialist, and today I'm going to be talking about messaging. What is it? What does it do? Why is it important?

The first four episodes of brand voice notes, we covered the basics of tone of voice. And now in the next four, we're going to be covering the basics of messaging, which is another piece in the brand language strategy puzzle. 

When I say brand language strategy, this is what I mean. At its basics, brand language strategy is messaging (what you say) and tone of voice (how you say it). You could expand this, obviously — you can always expand things — to include maybe narrative, the stories that you tell, that type of thing. But at its basics, this is how I think of it. 

I've included copywriting here in this diagram, because I think there's often some confusion about messaging, tone of voice copywriting. Are they not all the same thing? 

Well, messaging and tone of voice of the strategy pieces, and copywriting is the actual doing  — it's applying specialist writing techniques to engage, to convert, to achieve the aims of that particular copywriting brief. 

So they're all distinct, they're all different, they're all important, and they're all linked — you need them all to write good copy. 

But obviously, there's a bit more to messaging than just “what you have to say”. I think of it as the information that moves your audience from “state A” to “state B” on their journey with you. 

Good, consistent messaging is more likely to move your audience from state A to your desired state B. Obviously, nothing is certain, but good messaging makes it more likely. 

And bad, inconsistent, difficult to understand messaging, is less likely to move your audience from state A to a desired state B. 

What do I mean by state A and state B? I think we need to put that in a little bit more context. 

So if we're looking at brand-level messaging, which is things like awareness, reputation recognition. State A might be unaware, this is the first time this person's come across your brand. They've stumbled upon your website, an ad has popped up in their social feed, and they're investigating because they have questions. 

Who are these people? What do they do? It is irrelevant to me? Do I need to remember about this? Do I need to care? 

And after they've had a little look around, they'll go to state B, which is awareness, and they'll reach a conclusion about your brand. Obviously, desirable conclusions for the people you're targeting are yes, these are the people for me, I need to remember this brand, I need to bookmark it and tell my friends about it.

And an equally desirable outcome for state B for the people that you're not targeting (for the people you're not looking to recruit as your fans) is: “okay, no, these people aren't really for me, I can forget about them”. That's also good. Because remember, we're not trying to please everyone, we're trying to please and connect, and be remembered by the right people. 

Undesirable states — particularly for the people you're targeting  — would be: “I don't really understand who these people are or what they do”,  “I don't trust them” or “I don't see how they're different to this brand that I already trust, so I'm just going to forget about them”. 

You can see how that's not really what you're wanting to achieve. 

And then if we think about product and service-level messaging. State A might be curious. Somebody is aware of your brand, peripherally, and you've launched a new product, and they're curious. They want to know what it is, if it can help them, how it compares to other products and services already on the market. 

Your messaging will move them to state B. Obviously, desirable state Bs are hot or cold. So “yep, gotta buy this right now. Love it, need it, want it, have to have it.” Or “oh, yeah, I'm really interested in this, I can see how it's really relevant. It's going to solve my problems, but I'm not quite ready for it now or in the right place. I'll leave this in a few months. I'll remember about it.”

Or equally desirable is: “nope, not for me, not interested, forgetting about it.” Because we've filtered out the people that were not targeting.

Undesirable state Bs, again, would be things like confusion: “I don't know really what this is?”, “I don't understand what it does?”, “I think it's irrelevant to me.”, “I can't be bothered trying to work out more.So I'm just going to forget about it.”or “I don't really trust that this is going to work. I don't think this is any better. I don't see how it's any different to this other product that I'm already using that's working for me. So I'm just going to discount this.” 

Things like that, again, are not desirable. 

I’ve talked about good effective messaging. And really what I mean by that is messaging that's organised, consistent, distinct, empathetic to your audience and focused on your aims. 

And next episode, we're going to be looking at messaging frameworks, which can help you achieve the organised, consistent, focused on your aims pieces of this messaging puzzle. That'll be in two weeks time. 

Thank you very much for listening. Again, if you have any questions about what I've covered, if you want to chat about it, here are my contact details. If you have any requests for things that you'd like to you'd like me to cover in coming episodes as well that would be cool and you can follow me on social media and yeah I'll see you next time. Bye!