Brand messaging deconstructed

Professional service firms face a daunting task when trying to bring clarity to their brand messaging.

Since most firms offer a wide range of services and sell to clients with very different needs, they have a plethora of possible messages to communicate. To prevent overwhelming or confusing your prospects and clients, start by understanding the various components of brand messaging. 

Brand headline
A brand headline is your promise of value overall. It is an umbrella statement introducing the firm to the marketplace, and it helps drive memorability. The best brand headlines don’t simply focus on a feature of a firm, but instead focus on either the brand experience or a benefit of engaging the firm. Brand headlines should not change frequently, as it takes years for them to gain traction. Ideally, they are four to six words long and appear on the homepage of your website. 

Here are two examples of professional service firm brand messages:

Oliver Wyman – Accelerate Breakthroughs

Stradling – Solutions at the Speed of Now

Brand vision
Accompanying the brand headline should be a two-to-three-sentence statement that further expands on the brand headline. These sentences encapsulate the brand vision you want your audiences to absorb. The more these sentences tie into goals that are important to your various audiences, the better the traction will be.  

Service or practice headlines
The biggest risk with service or practice headlines is literally having too many. A law firm, for example, can easily have 50 practices. But if each has a distinct headline, it quickly becomes overwhelming. The best way to avoid this is to bundle your services into a few large buckets and then develop headlines for those groupings. Ideally, these practice or service headlines should tie in to your overall brand headline. 

Key messages
For most organizations, developing a list of key messages is easy. What is hard is winnowing them down to the ones buyers will care most about. And what is even harder is finding differentiated key messages, since many firms have a number of traits in common. Key messages are more likely to make an impression if you have no more than five that you repeatedly stress. And if you can visually express them, even better. Those messages that don’t rise to the top in importance can be woven into pitches and conversations. But less is more when it comes to key messages as we battle buyer fatigue.

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