3 Tips for Writing Brand Messaging

When I was a young designer, I used to think brand identity—how a company looked and their visual identity—was more important than what the company actually said. I naively thought that the world revolved around me and my graphic design skills, and that how something looked had more impact than the message it's communicating. But as I grew older, and hopefully wiser, I learned that my grandma was right—looks aren’t everything. 

If a brand has nothing to say, what good are all those great looks? It’s like a beautiful luxury car with no engine.

As the years went on, I began getting a lot more brand identity clients who struggled with what to say and how to say it. I would brainstorm with them, unknowingly helping them develop their tone and voice as well as how they would share their unique story with the world. In time, my expertise broadened beyond brand identity, and I expanded my services into not only the look and feel of a brand, but the tone and voice.

I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you and give you a peek into a few ways that I come up with brand messaging. 

This process I’m about to share with you comes after the brand discovery workshop, where we dive deep into the brand and the ideal customer. The workshop helps us uncover insights about who we’re talking to, their goals and problems, who the brand is, why the brand exists, how they help solve their customer’s problems, and so on. 

Once the workshop is done, I begin the fun of writing the high-level messaging to include in the strategy roadmap. These lines are used to guide any written content for the future. It’s especially helpful to have these examples nailed down right from the start since they can be handed over to a copywriter who then flushes out the day-to-day content or develops the messaging portion of the style guide. 

Here are 3 ways I go about writing messaging for brands:

(Along with examples from my one of my case studies).


1. Use common phrases and idioms. 

Remember, at this point we just finished the discovery workshop, so we have plenty of information on what we want to communicate and what will resonate with the ideal client.

In the case of Accessible Translation Solutions (ATS), I used The Free Dictionary's Idioms dictionary to look up the word “talk.” From there, I picked out “small talk.” Knowing that the ideal client in this case hates small talk, wants to get things done and get straight to the point, I used it as a jumping off point to write this line:

“Small talk? We hate it too. We’ll help you get to the point and be understood.” 



2. Look up quotes with relevant keywords to spur ideas. 

I use Google images to look up quotes with keywords taken from our strategy. That way, I can get a quick read of the quote without having to click on a bunch of links. Keeping in mind who we’re talking to and what they connect with, and knowing that the ideal client enjoys some intelligent wit here and there, I knew I could play with this a bit. I will sometimes search “quotes about _____” or “quotes with____” or “_____ quotes.” In this case, I looked up “quotes about say” which gave me many quotes that then spurred the idea to list off all the different languages that ATS translates. 

“We said it once, we’ll say it again. In Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, French, German…"



3. Embrace the objection—the elephant in the room—and then pivot.

During the workshop, we made note of any objections the client may have—one of which happened to be that the ideal client may wonder why they shouldn’t just go for a cheap or free option like Google Translate instead of ATS. There are a number of reasons to not use Google Translate for anything beyond small, day-to-day use (just google “Google Translate fails” and you’ll see what I mean). We decided to call out and embrace the elephant in the room—that online translating services were an option, but then pivot and present the reason why ATS is a much better choice:

“Google Translate may have technique, but we have tact.” 



There are many ways to come up with messaging for a brand, but those are my current go-to’s. Some other options are taking things my client says straight from the discovery workshop, while others may require me to do research on TV shows, literature, or catchphrases that would connect with my client's ideal customer. 

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my process. Remember, looks aren’t everything. What you say matters. 

- Melinda Livsey
Owner/Brand Strategist

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About the author:

Melinda Livsey is a brand strategist, designer, and educator based in sunny Southern California. She’s the founder of Marks and Maker, co-founder of Pre-lance, and co-host on the Futur. Find her hanging out on Instagram and say hello!