What is a Brand Messaging Platform?
This article is from our Branding Dictionary series, designed to make sense of the sometimes confusing terminology used by marketing, communications, and brand management professionals. If you are looking for more ways to build your company, nonprofit, or small business’ brand collateral, give our team a call and we will happily walk through how Momenta can help your organization’s brand reach its full potential.
Organizations, from major corporations to startups to nonprofits, need a good, solid brand messaging platform. It serves as a consistent foundation for all communications ensuring clarity, resonance, and alignment with the brand’s values.
During the build process of a brand messaging platform, several pivotal elements are crafted to comprehensively define and represent the brand’s identity. These elements include the Brand Essence, capturing the core spirit and purpose of the brand; the Brand Personality, which describes the brand’s tone, style, and human-like characteristics; the Brand Audience, specifying the target demographics and psychographics; the Brand Promise, encapsulating the tangible and intangible benefits delivered to consumers; and the Brand Positioning, which delineates how the brand differentiates itself in the marketplace. These components weave a cohesive narrative, offering a foundational guide for all brand-related communications and strategies.
Distinguishing a Brand Messaging Platform from Brand Elements
A Brand Messaging Platform and the elements of a brand, while interconnected, serve distinct roles in the brand’s ecosystem. A Brand Messaging Platform is a strategic foundation that encapsulates a brand’s core narratives, promises, and communications directives. It ensures consistency, authenticity, and resonance in all brand interactions.
On the other hand, brand elements—like logos, taglines, and FAQs—are the tangible manifestations of this platform. They’re the touchpoints consumers see and engage with. While a tagline might succinctly convey a brand’s essence or promise, a platform dives deeper, establishing the ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘for whom’ behind that tagline.
Simply put, if brand elements are the visible tips of the iceberg, the Brand Messaging Platform is the vast structure beneath the surface, guiding and supporting those elements. Even with existing brand elements, a company needs a platform to ensure every piece of communication, new or old, aligns with its core values and resonates effectively with its audience.
From Platform to Messaging
The beauty of a brand messaging platform lies in its versatility. It becomes the springboard for various other crucial brand elements.
- Mission Statement: Grounded in your brand essence, your mission statement succinctly communicates your company’s primary purpose. It offers a clear answer to why you exist in the market.
- Value Drivers: These are the tangible and intangible benefits your brand offers. Drawing from the brand promise, value drivers translate the promise into specific aspects that resonate with the audience.
- Key Messaging Points: Building upon your platform, these are concise statements that communicate vital aspects of your brand. Think of them as talking points for any marketing or PR effort.
Revisiting Your Brand Messaging Platform
Brands, like living organisms, evolve. As a general guideline, organizations should review their brand messaging platform every 2-3 years or whenever significant shifts occur. Mergers, acquisitions, entry into new markets, changes in audience preferences, or even shifts in societal values can necessitate a refresh. Regular evaluations ensure the brand remains relevant and authentic and effectively communicates its essence to its target audience. The key is adaptability; staying attuned to both internal changes and external market dynamics guarantees your messaging resonates powerfully and consistently.
Budgeting for a Brand Messaging Platform
Determining a budget for a brand messaging platform varies based on the organization’s size, objectives, and the complexity of its markets. However, investing in a robust platform is paramount, regardless of the exact figure.
When seen as an investment, this initial outlay yields long-term dividends by fortifying the brand’s position, streamlining marketing efforts, and establishing a resonant voice in the market. Skimping on this foundational step can lead to disjointed messaging and missed opportunities. A well-funded brand platform is the bedrock of effective communication, ensuring every dollar spent thereafter on branding and marketing achieves maximum impact.
The pricing for these services can vary widely based on several factors:
- Size and Stature of the Firm: Boutique agencies might charge differently than larger, well-known firms.
- Scope of Work: Some organizations might need a deep dive with extensive market research, while others
- may only require a refresh of their existing platform.
- Industry and Specialization: Certain industries or specialized markets might come with premium pricing due to niche expertise.
- Geographical Location: Costs can vary based on the firm’s location and target market.
That being said, if you are looking for a ballpark range to help you plan your annual budget spend on these type of services, here are a range of cost estimates you’re likely to see when calling in proposals.
- Smaller businesses and nonprofits might find packages from boutique agencies ranging from $10,000 to $50,000.
- Mid-size to larger companies looking for comprehensive brand strategy work from established firms might expect prices ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 or more.
- For Fortune 500 companies or those seeking a brand overhaul from top-tier agencies, costs can soar to $500,000 and beyond.
It’s crucial to note that these are general figures, and the estimates you get from branding companies can vary significantly. Just remember: it’s important to always consider the return on investment for these services. A solid brand messaging platform can significantly elevate your brand’s market position and its impact on generating new audiences and sales or donations.
A Word of Caution for Template-Based Platforms
While the allure of ready-made templates for brand messaging platforms can be desirable—offering quick solutions at a fraction of the cost—it’s wise to tread cautiously. A one-size-fits-all template often lack the nuance and specificity required to capture an organization’s unique essence, voice, and value proposition.
By resorting to such generic frameworks, companies risk diluting their brand identity and missing opportunities to deeply resonate with their target audience. Moreover, a template can’t possibly account for the dynamic nature of markets, consumer preferences, and the evolving essence of a brand. While templates might seem economical in the short run, they can lead to costly brand misalignments and missed market opportunities.
The Challenge of Creating an In-House Brand Message Platform
Choosing to refresh a brand messaging platform in-house rather than employing an outside firm has its merits, but it also comes with potential pitfalls:
- Internal teams may have inherent biases about the brand, making it difficult to view it from a fresh, unbiased perspective, which is often crucial for effective rebranding.
- While internal teams understand the company’s workings, they might lack the specialized tools, methodologies, and expertise that a dedicated branding agency brings to the table.
- When an organization only relies on internal feedback, it risks becoming an echo chamber where new and innovative ideas are scarce.
- External firms often have access to comprehensive market research and data analytics tools that can provide deeper insights into current market trends and audience sentiments.
- An in-house team typically juggles multiple roles and responsibilities. Dedicating ample time to a thorough brand refresh can strain resources and detract from other essential tasks.
- Branding specialists in reputable firms have extensive experience across different industries and brands. They bring proven strategies and fresh perspectives that an in-house team might miss.
- An external agency can challenge the status quo, pushing a brand out of its comfort zone. Internal teams might tend to gravitate towards familiar territory which can lead to stagnation.
While an in-house refresh is not inherently a bad idea, it comes with challenges. If an organization opts for this route, it’s essential to be aware of these potential pitfalls and work proactively to mitigate them. Sometimes, a hybrid approach—leveraging both internal insights and external expertise—can be the most effective solution.
Strategic Communications Messaging vs. Brand Messaging Platform
Both strategic communications messaging and a brand messaging platform are critical components in shaping how a company communicates. Still, they serve different purposes and address varied aspects of an organization’s communication landscape.
Purpose & Focus:
- Strategic Communications Messaging: This primarily focuses on achieving specific business or organizational goals, such as managing a crisis, launching a product, or guiding stakeholder relations. It is often tactical, aiming at addressing immediate challenges or capitalizing on short-term opportunities.
- Brand Messaging Platform: This lays the foundational framework for how the brand communicates its core values, promise, and essence consistently across various touchpoints. It’s more enduring and serves as the bedrock upon which all other communications, including strategic ones, are built.
- Strategic Communications Messaging: Often time-sensitive, it’s designed to address particular events, challenges, or opportunities that arise.
- Brand Messaging Platform: While it can evolve, it’s generally more stable and long-lasting, designed to provide consistent guidance over extended periods.
- Strategic Communications Messaging: This can be narrower in scope, targeting specific audiences or addressing particular events or challenges.
- Brand Messaging Platform: Broad in scope, it ensures every piece of communication, irrespective of its tactical nature, aligns with the brand’s core values and identity.
While the brand messaging platform defines a brand’s ‘who’ and ‘why,’ strategic communications messaging addresses the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of specific communication challenges and opportunities. Both are essential, but they operate at different brand and organizational narrative levels.
The Cumulative Advantage
Equipped with a robust brand messaging platform, organizations gain a competitive edge. Not only does it provide clear internal direction, but it also ensures every piece of communication is consistent and purposeful.
A brand messaging platform is non-negotiable for any organization aiming for effective communication. Establishing a solid platform leads to coherent, impactful messaging that stands out in today’s crowded marketplace.
For more reading on Brand Message Platforms, we recommend:
Brand Messaging 101 (article)
Craft Brand Messaging Your Target Audience Will Love (article)
Nail Brand Messaging with 6 Steps (video)
Continue exploring our Branding Dictionary here. And please feel free to reach out to our team if you need any support or have a question about creating a new brand, messaging platform, or strategic communications plan. Our team is ready to help your organization stand out!