Fast-paced consumer trends and the battle against the algorithm can make it tempting for businesses to feel as though they need to reinvent themselves every six months to remain relevant.
Yet, some of the oldest brands in the U.S. like Cigna, L.L. Bean, and Macy’s are still using brand messaging that has remained remarkably unchanged over time. These companies aren’t selling the same products and services they were 100 years ago, so what’s their secret?
The truth is, while your business practices may evolve and your product may be tweaked, your brand message, or how you communicate your company’s unique value, should ultimately stand the test of time. But that’s if you’re doing it right.
Here are the five most common brand messaging mistakes preventing your business from making a lasting impression.
1) You’re Focused on Features Rather Than Benefits
Your brand message must make it clear that your product or service will unequivocally change your customer’s life. Yes, LIFE. Features are important but they don’t elicit the emotional response you need to seal the deal.
The benefits of your features tell your customers what’s in it for them if they use your product and should make it clear what they’re currently missing out on.
It’s simple enough to present your benefits in a bulleted list on your website, but you also want to weave these benefits into every aspect of your messaging. You can easily improve your brand messaging with StoryBrand, a framework developed by marketing master, Donald Miller.
Miller teaches you how to position yourself as the customer and create a brand message that conveys what you’re offering, how it will improve the customer’s life and what they need to do to buy it, all within the first five seconds of coming into contact with your brand.
The Storybrand framework is dead simple and should be the foundation of your messaging strategy.
2) You’re Trying To Target More Than One Customer Persona At A Time
This isn’t to say that you can’t have multiple customer types. But your overarching message needs to focus on the common problem all of your customers suffer from.
For example, if you’re selling resource management software for contractors and construction workers, your enterprise customers will have different needs than your small business customers. However, the common thread is that they all need a platform that is painless for both workers and managers to use and has an impeccable mobile-first design, meant to be used on-site and in the field.
Stick to addressing the overarching pain points all of your customers’ experience, no matter their size or growth-stage, for a brand message that doesn’t have potential customers wondering who your product is for.
3) You’re Making The Brand Story About You, Rather Than The Customer
Don’t be a hero. Think about Nike, for example. What makes Nike’s brand message so compelling is that, unlike other athletic brands that focus on the product, fit and materials, the apparel is always a secondary player in the Nike brand story. The hero of every ad is the athlete, not the shoe.
Customers will stop dead in their tracks when they come across this kind of message because as self-centered humans, we naturally place ourselves in the middle of the story.
In the customer’s mind, they are now the protagonist on a journey to a stronger body, more productivity, a better customer experience, or more revenue. Your product is the guide they need to help them get to where they want to be.
Build a story that puts your customer’s desires front and center and combines it with a benefits-focused messaging strategy to motivate your customers to take action with your help.
4) You’re Afraid To Have A Personality
Most of the time this comes from not understanding or committing to a target customer. Your brand personality can be a huge differentiator for your business and your tone should be tailored to your audience.
This is especially important if you’re competing in a crowded space. It’s not uncommon to see two brands selling nearly identical products. But consumers can relate to one product better than the other because of the personality one brand’s messaging conveys.
Create a persona for your brand that you can incorporate into your messaging so you are recognizable amongst the noise and relatable to your ideal customer.
5) Your Messaging Is Not Consistent
Businesses today have the unique challenge of having to be everywhere at once. Yesterday’s businesses used to only worry about their storefront presence. Today’s brands are online, offline, and in our pockets.
The customer experience should feel the same across all channels and platforms, from customer service to social media to your sales reps. Make sure your employees are well-versed on your brand standards, values, and tone so your customers never have an experience that misrepresents or deviates from your brand image and message.
Create brand evangelists by giving your customers comfort in knowing exactly what to expect when they buy from and interact with you.
About the Author
Danny Peavey is the Owner of One Week Website and the President of Story Sells. He is also a StoryBrand Certified Guide. Danny is passionate about helping small business owners close more sales using the power of story.