When building your company’s brand, efforts are bucketed into two groups: the visual brand and your messaging. We’ve discussed how crucial your visual presence is to your business, outlining how the aesthetic of your brand resonates with an audience and how the science of color can (and should) reflect your brand values.
Complimenting your brand’s visual appearance is your brand’s voice, or, “Message House.” This includes your brand’s:
- Core values
- Brand personality
- Written voice and style
- Key messaging points
In this article, we’ll outline how to define each of these items and how to use them to drive your business’ success in getting more clients and boosting revenue.
Mission and vision: Your organization’s “what, who, why, and how”
“A mission statement is intended to clarify the ‘what’ and ‘who’ of a company, while a vision statement adds the ‘why’ and ‘how’ as well. As a company grows, its objectives and goals may change. Therefore, vision statements should be revised as needed to reflect the changing business culture as goals are met.”Hubspot, July 2018
Before you can dive into your social media posts, campaign messaging, or blog content, your brand must first have an established mission, vision, and cohesive core values. Your brand’s external facing content stems from these three things. They stand as the foundation and pillars for your brand’s messaging.
Your mission statement should be simple, direct, and unique to your brand and what your business offers. Hubspot shares a list of iconic mission statements by some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Here are a few:
- Life is Good: To spread the power of optimism.
- sweetgreen: To inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
- Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
- American Express: We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.
- Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
- InvisionApp: Question Assumptions. Think Deeply. Iterate as a Lifestyle. Details, Details. Design is Everywhere. Integrity.
- Honest Tea: To create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.
- IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
Note that several of these mission statements speak more on an ethical and philosophical level, versus a direct statement of what the company provides through their products and services.
IKEA’s mission statement, for example, is “to create a better everyday life for the many people.” How does IKEA do this? This is defined through the company’s vision to produce easy-to-assemble, practical home products and furniture.
As the term implies, your vision statement should be future-focused. They answer an organization’s aspirational questions like “What will our business look like in 5 to 10 years from now?” and “ What are our hopes and dreams?”
Many brands look to their core values to inform their mission and vision statements.
Core values: Defining your brand’s culture and work ethic
Core values are the morals that your company and its employees embody, and those directly affect how you build your products and services and work with your customers. In our previous article, we talk about how email marketing company ExactTarget, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2013 for $2.5B, held core values like “making customers heroes”, which its employees embodied from building new products to managing customer escalations. The idea of making customers heroes meant that the company’s product wasn’t the key feature—it’s what it did for its customers that made it special.
This benchmarking mindset has evolved into an even more philosophical approach with SaaS powerhouses like Slack. As of August 2018, Slack has a $7.1B valuation and boasts more than nine million weekly active users. The company is known for being the leading communication chat tool and continuing to set itself up as the leading SaaS tool for businesses.
With an open integration platform, companies are able to incorporate the business into their daily tasks. Contract management tool PactSafe recently announced a Chat-to-Sign product, allowing users to send and sign contracts (like NDAs and customer onboarding agreements) directly through Slack. The ability to build a product that molds into people’s daily activities and make them easier is all a part of Slack’s core values.
Forbes reported on Slack’s core values in 2015, pointing out how the company’s approach was different than the industry standard. Instead of statements outlining core values, Slack uses single terms:
Craftsmanship, for example, represents how the company hones-in on its employees’ skills to solve a single problem. Becoming experts in solving for single, simple tasks has been the cornerstone of Slack’s success.
“Slack is a detail-oriented company that succeeds by making workers’ routines a little easier, rather than by moving mountains. If Slack can help a work team save a few seconds in keeping track of who’s coming to the 3 p.m. meeting, that’s a win.”Forbes, 2015
Defining your company’s core values is critical to your brand’s foundation internally and externally. They inform how you interact with your team and how they interact with each other. They should also drive your tone of voice when communicating with your target personas on your social media channels, your website, etc.
You’ve probably heard the term “target personas”, but understanding how to define them is key to driving conversions, revenue, etc. This is done through persona mapping, which drives a deeper understanding of who your buyers are, what they want, and how you make them successful.
Utilize persona mapping-specific matrixes as well as customer and prospect interviews where more detailed questions on your customers’ wants and needs are asked such as:
- What are your customers’ demographics such as their title, education level, gender, etc.?
- How is your customer’s success measured?
- Are there any unique goals your customer has that are different than the typical industry standard?
- What are your customer’s challenges?
- What makes up your customer’s day-to-day, and where do they find hurdles?
- What are your customers’ psychographics?
Overall, it’s taking a more detailed look at your customer. Instead of building messaging that revolves around your product, take into account what your customer values, what their day-to-day entails, and see how your products and services fit those buckets. This will, in turn, make your messaging more meaningful and relevant to your audience.
Build your mission, vision, and core values today
Sapphire Strategy provides services around building your brand and messaging whether you’re a tech startup or a seasoned business that’s evolving with your industry and client landscape. For more information on brand and messaging, watch my latest panel with global design influencers and HGTV personalities, where we discuss how to leverage brand and messaging on digital platforms.
Reach out today to schedule a free consultation if you’d like help building your Message House.