Every modern company understands the importance of branding. Creating a company image that stands for and advocates your values, style and business approach helps potential customers identify and value your company.
Part of successful branding includes how your company talks to prospective customers, promotes itself and how it communicates across sales, marketing and operations. This is generally known as “messaging” and has a significant impact on your company’s brand and how it is perceived.
One of the best tools available to business owners and marketers today to achieve messaging that is authentic and effective is a messaging pyramid. Messaging pyramids allow business owners to gain an overall perspective on their offering and bring control over how their brand messages are delivered. Still, many business owners do not understand what a messaging pyramid is or how to use it.
This blog post will detail what messaging pyramids are, how they fit into an overall branding strategy and how a business can get the most out of them.
What is the messaging pyramid?
Every business needs to understand who they are, what they stand for and what customers can expect from them. The messaging pyramid is simply a framework to put all these thoughts, principles and values into perspective so that all stakeholders within the business can understand their brand and use messaging that is compatible with it.
Essentially, a messaging pyramid will answer questions such as:
- What customer problem does your business solve?
- What’s the financial value of your product or service?
- What’s the emotional value of your product or service?
- What core values reflect through your business?
- What is the core idea you’re trying to communicate through your brand?
- What’s your company’s mission?
- What’s your company’s vision?
- What does your business do?
While this may sound straightforward for many business owners, more often than not, these questions lead to very different answers for people within the same organisation. Some of these answers may overlap with general ideas and concepts but lead to very different conclusions. Some answers are inconsistent, confused or just plain incorrect. The real value of a messaging pyramid is aligning all of these views within an organisation towards a single, coherent and valuable messaging strategy.
The messaging pyramid matters because:
- It forces consensus among organisation stakeholders on what the company wants to be, how they should present themselves, what goals they should be striving for and how they should leave their customers feeling.
- It clarifies brand communication and style, which influences critical public-facing departments such as sales, marketing and customer service.
- It sets the strategic foundation of an organisation’s brand.
- It provides all of this information in an easy-to-understand way that can be rapidly shared and understood across an organisation.
How to develop a messaging pyramid
Now that we understand what a messaging pyramid is and why companies should use them, we can examine what messaging pyramids consist of and how you can develop your own.
For our purposes, a messaging pyramid starts at the top and works its way down. We know, real pyramids don’t work like that. Egypt also wasn’t built by marketers.
We start by defining your overall company message/brand. Explain your company ideals, what your company provides and the overall personality that emanates from your brand.
Then we create different personas that would outline your ideal customers. With this information, we can identify what pain-points, desires and challenges each face and create messaging to address them.
Finally, we get to creating the content and specific messaging for the individual products or services offered and how they fit into the personas identified above.
Let’s take a look at each step.
To start, we need to understand your overall company message and brand. Here, you’ll identify core values that reinforce everything your business does from product development to marketing to customer service. Is your company friendly and informal, or is it professional and deadly serious? Whatever you decide, your messaging will be influenced based on how your company wants to present itself. Essentially, you’re creating a personality for your company, and the character for your messaging.
An excellent example of a company personified is the Geico Gecko. The Gecko is friendly, approachable and curious. All of Geico’s marketing material reflects these three personality aspects, whether the Gecko features in a commercial or whether it is a customer service representative sending out notifications. These are attributes which users can relate to, and it makes them feel closer to Geico as an insurance product. Your goal is to find out the voice and core attributes your company wishes to convey and use it in your messaging.
Questions to help define this section
- If your brand were a person, how would you describe him/her?
- What values are essential to this person and your company?
- How are these values reflected in your products and service?
- Does your product or service inspire a particular personality or emotion?
Once this step is complete, you should have a good understanding of who your company is and, with this in mind, how your company communicates. Now that we know who “we” are, we have to understand to whom we are talking. This is what the next step, Persona, is all about.
Communication is a two-way street, not a one-sided shouting match.
We have to understand to whom we are talking in order to create the best messaging strategy possible. That is why creating, and understanding personas is essential to your success.
Simply speaking, personas are personalities based on a true story - they are outlines of your ideal customers, and enshrine the hopes, fears, challenges and limitations of someone who would ideally use your product or service.
Creating these personas involves understanding what need your product or service fulfils, the type of person who would have that need and what additional traits such a person may have.
Questions to help define this section
- Who are your typical customers?
- How old are your customers?
- What gender are your customers?
- How does their budget look?
- How does a day in their life look?
- What are their primary pain points?
- What do they value most, and what are their goals?
- Where do they go for information?
- What is important to them when selecting a brand or product?
- What are their most common objections?
By building customer personas, we can begin to paint a relatively accurate picture of the kinds of people your messaging will target. In other words, we will have a good idea to whom we are talking.
With this knowledge in place as well as the previous information about your company and brand voice, we can put them together and begin to create communication assets.
Now, we will begin to get our message across.
Product or Service
We’ve done the groundwork, and understand our company voice and to whom we want to appeal. We know how to say something, and now it’s time to decide what we want to say.
This stage of the messaging pyramid will marry our company’s brand voice from step one, with the targeted personas identified in step two. This stage of the messaging pyramid is the ceremony itself.
In the product or service stage, we take a look at your actual product or service and create content that supports and promotes it while staying on-brand and in a way that appeals to the personas identified.
To do this, we have to understand what the product or service objectively achieves as well as the emotions it inspires in the personas. This is where the brand voice will help support the overall message.
Questions to help define this section
- What problem are we solving?
- What value do they get by using our product?
- How do customers feel after using our product?
- What are the negative emotions associated with forgoing the use of our product?
- Why should customers care about my brand?
- What do customers say about themselves if they support my brand?
- What do we provide above and beyond our competitors?
- What does my product offering consist of?
- Which features and functions are highlighted in our materials?
- What is the core, tangible asset that customers pay for?
Tangible benefits are the most important element of any message. This is particularly true for B2B organisations. Tangible benefits highlight the returns that your customer will gain by using your product or service. They include things such as cost savings, headcount reductions, elimination of errors and risk mitigation
Emotional benefits follow next. They start the process of moving beyond the practical functionality of your product and bring personable emotions into the process. These emotions are what tie your customers to your particular brand and what will infuse your brand with something relatable to consumers.
By uniting the emotional and tangible aspects of your product or service (company brand) with what your customers need (personas), you will be able to present your offering as a solution that is not only useful but desirable over competitors (product or service messaging).
Brand with the best
Of course, a messaging pyramid is just one small part of branding an entire company and creating a culture that not only promotes but inspires success. With content becoming ever more relevant for customers today and established brands branching out into more industries, it makes sense to want an expert on your side when developing your messaging and branding.
Demodia has helped businesses around the world create and develop their branding and messaging for decades using automated and digital tools. We use proven, sophisticated and dedicated techniques that work specific to your industry, no matter your challenges and objectives.
Contact Demodia today, and work with a marketing consultancy that understands the human connection in the digital age.