How to create brand messaging that hits the spot for your audience

Here’s a look at how to create brand messaging that appeals to the right people, even (or especially) if you’re in a crowded market. No fluff included.

Brand messaging is often a kind of an afterthought in product marketing teams. Which, when you think about it, doesn’t really make sense.

Even if you are in a relatively un-crowded space and might think you don’t really have competitors, they’ll come, sooner or later, with the same product (or better), maybe at better prices.

(And you do have to face the fact that basically anyone can copy your product and then tweak it or add a feature or two.)

And when they come, and all you talk about is “getting leads,” “growing your business,” or “taking it to the next level,” you’re not really giving your audience any specific reason to choose you or stay with you. Because everyone else is talking about the same thing.

The solution? Brand messaging that differentiates you. The kind that’s your brand’s and no one else’s. 

And also, the type that speaks specifically to your audience – what they want, what they’re looking for, what problems they need solved. And does it in a way that makes choosing you a no-brainer if you tick all the boxes for a prospective customer.

So let’s talk about how to get there. 

What is brand messaging?

Can you imagine a SaaS brand without a visual identity or a marketing team without a lead designer?

And yet those same teams often overlook brand messaging strategies (not to mention hiring messaging strategists.)

And I’m talking more than just copy. Brand messaging is what guides your copy across all marketing channels and all company departments including sales, customer service, product – anywhere you’re talking to your existing or prospective customers.

It often impacts the design, too. 

Having a clear brand messaging strategy also lets you:

  • Always know what to write and how 
  • Know how to arrange copy (and often the design) to best convey that message on your homepage, your product pages, or your free trial onboarding email sequence 
  • Target the right people with a consistent message across channels – and help your customers see you for who you are and what you can do for them from the moment they come to your website (or see your ad.)
  • Stand out from your competitors, especially when your products are really similar (and if you’re in B2B SaaS, they most likely are.)

Not to mention, when it comes to conversion rates, messaging can be twice as impactful as design

So, how do you create successful brand messaging that does all of that?

What I do with my clients is put together a brand messaging guide that describes essentials and guidelines. Here is the short version of how to make one:

Start with identifying and analyzing your target audience

To validate your message-market fit, you’re going to need to know your ICP – or ideal customer profile. 

Or profiles because there will probably be more than one. And if you’re in B2B, you’ll also most likely need different messaging for decision-makers and end-users.

Your message needs to speak to your customer’s pains and challenges and how you’re solving them with your product. (One way to find out what they are is by using Wynter’s B2B buyer intelligence surveys.)

And this needs to go first for a simple reason. However great your product is, there is no way to create successful messaging (or successful marketing) without thoroughly knowing your audience. 

Collect voice of customer data

Look for anything your customers say about you – or about your competitors – to find the exact words they use to talk about their problems. 

This knowledge is gold when it comes to creating messaging that’s on point. Because when you use the actual words of your customers, you show them you get them.  

So you’re not really convincing them to buy, but rather joining a conversation that’s already happening in their heads. 

You can find voice-of-customer data through:

  • Customer surveys (including the ones you do using Wynter)
  • Comparison site reviews (like G2 or Capterra)
  • Your customer service chat logs or emails.

And collecting it should be an integral part of your customer journey.

Here’s a more detailed article on collecting and using voice-of-customer data

Brainstorm the pillars of your brand message

When you know your audience, decide what the core elements of your message should be based on who you are and what you do as a brand. 

What I do to define them with my clients is a workshop based on Margot Bloomstein’s message architecture tool. I use a card sorting exercise that helps us arrive at a set of brand attributes that later create the pillars of the brand message. 

(I use these cards, but there are other options and online tools, like e.g. Zebrand. And these days, I use a Trello board more and more often, with my own curated version of the exercise.)

What I take away from the workshop – and maybe most importantly, from the conversations that happen between team members during the card exercise – is the foundation for the brand messaging guidelines.

Define the messaging hierarchy

Once you have the above, prioritize them and decide what your primary message and secondary messages are. With the messaging architecture tool described above, it may look something like this:

message architecture for apple
A messaging architecture for Apple, as created by Margot Bloomstein and recreated by the Content Marketing Institute

Analyze the messaging of a few competitors 

Look at how your competitors communicate. NOT to copy them, but to find ways to set your message apart. What unique message can you send that’ll clearly position your brand against the competitive landscape?

For the brand messaging guides that I create for my clients, I like to focus on 3-4 key competitors and their key messages.

Define your unique value proposition

Now it’s time to turn everything you’ve collected in the previous steps into your unique value proposition. It’s a statement that should clearly communicate:

  • What value you bring 
  • What audience problem you solve 
  • And what makes the way you do it unique.

At this stage, it doesn’t have to be your homepage headline or a catchy tagline yet – you’ll tweak it later. But it WILL help you create those immensely.

Break it down into specific benefits and selling points

Your unique value proposition is the essence of your brand – your brand promise. But there are usually many other secondary benefits and selling points, especially if you have a comprehensive product or serve several audience segments.

So define those in relation to all your target audience segments (or customer personas), focusing on real-life benefits and not just the software features you offer.

Incorporate your brand personality and voice

Now that you know WHAT you want to communicate, define the how. 

Your brand voice should be based on your brand personality (which you should have nailed down while defining your brand messaging pillars) and the voice of your customers. 

Are you more easygoing? Or maybe more formal? Do you use humor, or maybe like to stick only to facts and stats?

Define the different tones for different channels, if relevant – these days, as we’re primarily communicating online anyway, a consistent tone of voice often works across channels, with maybe slight nuance when, for example, talking to upset customers on chat.

Test your messaging with real people

If, after all of that, you want to be sure your messaging resonates with your audience, make messaging testing a part of your brand messaging strategy. Even if you have great marketing instincts, you’ll only know if your messaging actually works when you put it in front of the right audience. 

Elements that should go into your brand messaging guide

Customer profiles with specific benefits

Customer personas many companies make are pretty much useless from a messaging standpoint. I’m talking about the usual “fake name, age, and job title” set here that doesn’t really tell anybody anything. 

So for your ICPs, focus on their problems (you should have a good idea of what they are by now) and how they talk about them. 

Plus, match the relevant messages and selling points to them. This is what’s going to make them really helpful when creating any kind of content for any channel.

Notice how Figma addresses the different user types on their homepage, reinforcing the benefits with direct customer quotes:

Messaging addressed to different audience segments on Figma’s website

Positioning statement

Your positioning statement is an internal tool that clearly indicates where you position your brand in your market segment. 

It can look something like this:

<blog__custom-tooltip>For [target audience], [product name] provides a way to [do something that solves their problem], so they can [get key benefit.]<blog__custom-tooltip>

You can have several positioning statements for the different target audience segments.

This is an actual example of a positioning statement you could find on a SaaS website:

Miro’s positioning statement on their About page

Mission statement

Your mission statement is like the background to your value proposition. While the UVP focuses on what you offer, your mission is your “why” – your brand purpose. 

For example, Miro’s mission is “to empower teams to create the next big thing.”

And ConvertKit’s mission is: “We exist to help creators earn a living.”

Unique value proposition

A unique value prop can be a part of the positioning statement. It’s the brand promise you make to your customers, and it should be:

  • Unique (surprise!). It’s what sets you apart.
  • Clear and easy to understand. If you can’t figure out who you are or what you do when reading your value prop, go back to the drawing board.
  • Specific. A general, vague value proposition is NOT what will set you apart.
  • Succinct. Writing a value prop is a great exercise in synthesizing your brand’s essence into a single sentence.
  • True. It’s one thing to create a compelling value prop, but another to make sure your product lives up to the promise.

The subheading on NapoleonCat’s homepage could be an example of a value prop:

NapoleonCat’s homepage header with their value proposition

Headline + subheading examples

This is where you can get creative.

Think of the headline and subheading together as the articulation of your value proposition.

The headline can be the more eye-catching/creative bit, while the subheading can add the clarity and down-to-earth details (plus maybe some keywords for Google that you didn’t get to squeeze into the headline.)

Like in this example from Loom:

Graphical user interface, applicationDescription automatically generatedThe headline and subheading duo on Loom’s website
The headline and subheading duo on Loom’s website

Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a helpful tool to know how to sell your product and organize your message. Think of it as your sales presentation but done in maximum 30 seconds.

Tip: Don’t start by talking about yourself. Start with the problem your customer faces and work towards presenting yourself as a solution. The perfect copywriting framework for this one is PAS:

  • Problem (the main thing that bothers your customers) 
  • Agitation (how it manifests in real life, expressed based on the voice of customer you’ve gathered)
  • Solution (your product and how it helps). 

One example of a very simple elevator pitch that’s made its way onto a homepage is this:

DuckDuckGo homepage header

Brand voice guidelines

Your brand messaging guide should include the mechanics of applying your brand voice to your message in writing across the different channels. This includes things like:

  • Wording (with words you use and don’t use)
  • Grammar (like, e.g., avoiding passive voice)
  • Punctuation (#TeamOxfordComma)
  • Formatting (e.g., rules for using bulleted lists or periods in headlines or writing CTA copy)
  • Etc.

And here are all of them on a handy brand messaging template

Wynter's brand messaging framework

7 brand messaging examples in B2B SaaS 

ConvertKit and their targeted message

ConvertKit is one of the many email marketing platforms on the planet. But what they seem to have done is decide on a specific audience segment – creatives and all sorts of content creators. This is the first thing you learn about them when going to their website, leaving no doubt as to whether it’s a platform for you.

This is obviously a decision that goes way beyond brand messaging itself and most likely defines their product strategy, too. But clearly communicating the benefits relative to actual, real-world use cases is a great move, especially in this industry.

main Messaging on ConvertKit’s homepage
Messaging on ConvertKit’s homepage
Messaging on ConvertKit’s homepage

Typeform and their human touch

As with email platforms, there are tons of survey tools out there, but Typeform stands out for sure (again, with more than “just” the messaging). What I like about it, especially when compared to others in the space, is the way they talk about their tool. 

Less focused on the product and its features (sooo common in the SaaS space), more about the end-user experience. All in a conversational, clear, and human way devoid of buzzwords.

Messaging on Typeform’s homepage
Messaging on Typeform’s homepage

(Okay, I was a little disappointed coming across this page from a Google ad and seeing the usual “get leads with ease” stuff. But I’m sure – or at least hope – that they have a reason to use it.)

Typeform’s landing page for a Google ad campaign
Typeform’s landing page for a Google Ad campaign

Monday.com and their customer insights

This could be another platform with “leading-slash-easy-to-use project management software” in the headline. But what they seem to be going for is tailoring their messaging to the actual reality their customers experience. 

Plus, coming up with “Work OS” feels like a genius move.

Graphical user interface, application, websiteDescription automatically generated
Monday.com’s homepage header

Descript and the voice of their customers

This is a clever use of voice-of-customer data on a homepage.

Plus I also really like the comparison in the headline, so much so that I’m willing to turn a blind eye to the ever-present “all-in-one” that you can probably find on every other SaaS website.

Descript’s homepage messaging

Coda and their out-of-the-SaaS-box thinking

Coda really steals the show for me with their headline – that could’ve so easily gone wrong (and I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count.)

Their messaging is smart and funny, precise at describing what it is in the subheading (kind of looks like they used one of the positioning statement templates here 🤔) and speaking to a problem their audience likely faces. Plus, it goes super well with the design.

Current Coda homepage header
Current Coda homepage header

(Though I liked the previous version much better.)

A previous version of the homepage header

esignatures.io and their message-design match

I’ve gone through several e-signature software websites, and few stood out. This was one of them. I not only like the way the headline speaks directly to the reader in a conversational way. It also captures what’s likely their value proposition – the simplicity of the process – in an unusually creative way (they could’ve just said “easy-to-use” or worse, “e-signature made simple.”)

And the simple design goes so well with the message, enhancing it even more. 

Graphical user interface, text, applicationDescription automatically generated
esignatures website header

Notion’s nod to the customer

Speaking of simplicity, Notion does a great job of explaining a tool that, at first glance, might look a little overwhelming.

I do appreciate how they acknowledge that fact in their onboarding email sequence. This is exactly why researching your audience and “getting inside their heads” is so important. You then have ways to address their concerns and objections with your messaging – and ultimately encourage them to use your platform, the goal of any onboarding email sequence.

A customer email from Notion

Your brand messaging is how you sell your product

And to be successful, you need to build it based on thorough target customer research. It’s the only way to talk about what’s important for your audience.

And don’t forget to make regular check-ins and reassess your message-audience fit. As the world changes (somehow even faster these days), the needs and problems of your customers will change, too. And so should your brand messaging.

Know exactly what your buyers want and improve your messaging

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