3.3 — Messaging Pillars
If your brand was embodied by one person, your Messaging Pillars express different sides of her personality through what she loves speaking about.
To define your top 3 Messaging Pillars, think back to your Brand Story and Elevator Pitch. Your Messaging Pillars are the themes of content you'll be using to tell your Brand Story to your audience across all channels. Through selecting a diverse yet strategic array of Messaging Pillars you can make sure your content feels fresh yet cohesive.
This means even if you’re an eco-friendly brand you probably wouldn't solely be posting statistics around your carbon footprint. Instead you might also speak about how you draw inspiration from nature and include interviews with the conscious community around your brand. Just like any person, your brand’s voice and message is strongest when it's multifaceted and authentic.
Complete exercise and fill in Slide 3.3 of your Brand Guidelines
Look at your competitors’ messaging across their social media and newsletter marketing channels (refer to Competitive Landscape Slides). What are their content themes? What themes do you think work well and would align with your brand? What themes do you think are missing?
Put your pen to paper and brainstorm
Review your Brand Story slide. What are 8-10 themes of content your brand can create in order to tell your Brand Story. For theme ideas, ask the following:
1. What content will my Target Audience find inspiring?
2. What content will my Target Audience find useful / helpful?
3. What content will build engagement with my Target Audience?
4. What content will give me credibility in the eyes of my Target Audience?
5. What content will help explicitly sell my offering to my Target Audience?
6. What content mirrors the content my Target Audience already consumes? Refer back to your Consumption slide.
7. Does all content align with my Mission?
8. Does my content reflect my brand’s Core Values?
9. Is my content adding value to my Target Audience’s lives?
10. Lastly, does my content seek to sell through making my Target Audience feel less-than, lacking, or unworthy? If so, try to adjust Messaging Pillars to sell through positive messaging that encourages your customers to feel worthy and capable. Example: An activewear brand can shame bodies they deem unfit, and praise bodies they deem fit, to sell their clothing. On the other hand, the same brand can sell by promoting people with a wide range of body types who all engage in physical activity just because it makes their bodies feel great. Both sell. One just spreads a much more positive message.
Put your pen to paper and brainstorm
1. Select 3 content themes from your list to develop into your 3 Messaging Pillars. Ideally, the mix of your pillars should inspire and entertain, educate and build credibility and sell your offering.
2. Describe each content pillar. See example slide for inspiration.
3. Write a 2-3 sentence summary of how you will use your Messaging Pillars to support your customer and tell your Brand Story. Include your brand’s overall tone of voice and writing style. (See Example Slide for inspiration.)
1. Write an overview of your Messaging Pillars and your tone of voice.
2. Write the phrase that describes each of your Messaging Pillars.
3. Further describe your Messaging Pillars in 1-2 sentences.
See Our Client Example For 3.3 Messaging Pillars
The Brand: Zanni LA
Description: Contemporary Lifestyle Womenswear Brand
Click on the tab below for a walkthrough of this example.
Your messaging pillars define the main themes of your content across all communication channels. For example, while ZANNI might be interviewing inspiring female entrepreneurs one day and speaking about sustainability the next month, all content ideas should fall within these three messaging pillars they created.
They are Simple & Sophisticated, Empowered & Spontaneous, and Smart & Trustworthy. In the next module we’ll be speaking about how these pillars practically translate to your communication, but for now, try to think about 3 of the most meaningful, brand-aligned topics you want to talk about.
And as long as they’re aligned with your overall vision and you think they would connect with your target audience, they don’t necessarily need to speak directly to what you do. For example, ZANNI educates their audience on why their materials and manufacturing processes are awesome under the smart and trustworthy category. However, under empowered and spontaneous, they can also just talk about women’s empowerment or feature customers who are doing awesome things because that helps add more depth to their brand personality and attracts the type of audience who would also want to buy their dresses created to empower the modern woman.
So, in closing, as you design your messaging pillars try to think both of: A) How you can promote what you do in an engaging way B) How you can simply create content that connects with your audience and adds value to their lives. Because having a healthy balance between the two is what transforms a first-time customer into a lifetime customer.