Why and How to Create a Brand Messaging Guide

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When it comes to building a strong brand, consistency is key. A Brand Messaging Guide (backed by a strong brand messaging framework) helps you build consistency by creating a rulebook for things like catchphrases, article formatting, brand voice and tone, and favorite emojis. Not to mention how to use your brand name correctly!

The longer I work in marketing and content strategy (10 years now, woo!) the more convinced I become that *every* brand or business owner should have a brand messaging strategy for their copy and written content. They are super helpful for me as a copywriter when I engage with brands. And media partners and influencers love them too! 

What Is a Brand Messaging Guide?

A Brand Messaging Guide (or Brand Communications Guide or Branded Content Guidelines, Brand Voice Guide, etc.) is a strategic document that outlines key building blocks of your brand message and provides parameters for optimal usage of your brand “in the wild”.

The final product is typically a designed PDF that you can share with designers, content writers, media partners, and customer-facing teams. Some brands like Mailchimp and Uber keep them hosted on their website for all to see. 

Keep in mind, some companies will create overarching Brand Guidelines (aka Brand Bible, Brand Style Guide, etc.) which include rules for visual and written aspects in the same document. Visual guidelines may include specs for logo use, and acceptable fonts, colors, and images.

A Brand Messaging Guide can be included within the larger Brand Guidelines or as a standalone document, and focuses more on the messaging and written expression of your brand. It will focus on your brand messaging strategy, including things like core values, mission and vision statements, what makes you unique, brand voice, formatting guidelines, and more.

Why Create a Brand Messaging Guide?

In a nutshell, a brand messaging guide makes everyone’s job easier. It acts as cheat sheet for anyone who touches your brand, internally or externally. Defining your brand messaging strategy strengthens your brand in a number of ways:

  • Clarifies your message
  • Reinforces your brand values
  • Sharpens and refines your voice
  • Gets everyone on the same page
  • Helps you show up more consistently
  • Allows you to stand out in a sea of sameness (looking at you, B2B brands!)

A Brand Messaging Guide keeps your digital presence on point and on-brand, every time. 

All of this results in a digital presence that’s more polished, more consistent, and authentically you.  

What Should I Include in My Brand Messaging Guide?

If you need a brand communications guide and you’re not sure where to start, I’ve got you covered! The great thing about a style guide for communications is that you can customize it to fit your brand. It will include strategic brand messaging elements like: 

  • Mission Statement
  • Tagline
  • Key audiences
  • Core Values
  • Brand promise
  • What sets you apart 
  • Description of brand voice and tone
  • Words or phrases not to use 
  • Brand buzzwords
  • Conventions for spelling, punctuation, headlines and emojis!
  • Guidelines for inclusive language relating to gender/race/ability etc.

And so much more. A copywriter or messaging strategist can help you determine exactly what needs to be in there based on your pain points, objectives, & how much fun you want to have with it. A brand messaging guide can be anywhere from a single page to 20 pages or more. In my experience, the sweet spot is 4-6 pages, designed. 

When it comes to the how of creating your guide, this is where most brands get overwhelmed. “I don’t have time.” you say. Or the CEO wants you to work on something else first. Or maybe, you just don’t know where to start? My advice is to start small. But start somewhere. Maybe you start making notes on a Google Doc as things come up. Maybe you create a bare bones one-pager as a starting point. Hey, it’s better than nothing! And there’s no where to go but up.

Try starting with a few basics like your tagline, mission statement, and elevator pitch. Throw in a few brand adjectives to describe your voice (here are five questions to help you do that). Build as you go. Of course, you can always hire a brand messaging strategist or a marketing agency to help.

If you’re ready to create a custom communications guide for your brand, you’re in luck! My Brand Messaging Guide Template has all the goods you need to put it together. Backed by my BRANDOLOGY brand messaging framework, the template includes 30+ brand messaging examples across four core focus areas, to help you build your own Brand Messaging Guide faster, and without all the stress!

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