When a prospective client first comes into contact with your brand (whether by landing on your website, finding you on social media, or hearing about you from a friend, a former client, or a builder or contractor) what do you want them to know about you and your work?
That’s a big question. Of course, you want them to know that you’re professional and talented.
But beyond that, exactly what do they need to know to help you stand out from the other professional, talented designers they could be looking at? What would tell them whether or not their project, their budget, and their style are a good fit for you? What would give them a taste of your personality and what it’s like to work with you? What would help them trust you with their project and want to reach out?
The truth is, if you don’t have killer brand messaging in place that checks all of those boxes and more, you’re missing a huge opportunity for attracting and drawing in your ideal clients.
What is brand messaging?
Think of brand messaging as strategic talking points about your brand that are designed to resonate with your ideal clients.
To truly understand the value of brand messaging, think about corporate spokespeople who get out in front of the media at press conferences during a crisis and read through the pre-written talking points. No matter what’s happening, no matter what questions they’re asked, they stick to the messaging in front of them, right? That’s because the messaging was developed with purpose and intention. It was based on a strategic plan and was pre-determined to communicate nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else than exactly what the corporation wants to communicate.
That’s crisis messaging but the same is true for brand messaging. It’s about being intentional with what you communicate about your business and thinking through what to say and how to say it globally for your brand. By developing key messages (the main points you want your target clients to hear and remember), you’ll be more effective at highlighting what you want them to know and creating meaningful communications.
Well-thought-out brand messaging acts as a compass, setting a strategic, cohesive direction for all your brand’s communications. That way, you never need to worry about saying one thing on your website and something else entirely in your client welcome packet or in a blog post.
Brand messaging categories
When I create brand messaging for my clients, I give them messaging about all the various aspects of their business. The exact categories I cover can vary depending on each client’s unique needs, but they tend to include things like…
- What your ideal clients value in their homes and what they’re looking for in a designer
- How you’re the perfect designer for your ideal clients
- Lists of brand describing vocabulary for your aesthetic and for the service experience you provide
- Your brand values (the ones that matter most to your clients)
- Your key differentiators
- Your brand voice
- Your unique point of view on design, the home, serving your clients, etc.
- A category for messaging covering anything and everything you need to help you communicate clearly and confidently about your brand
Creating these talking points together all at the same time gives you the opportunity to think deeply about how best to describe your business from every angle.
It allows you to get clarity on what is and isn’t important to your ideal clients and to make smart decisions about how to communicate effectively with them.
When done right, your messaging will present you and your work in a way that resonates with your ideal clients, helping them understand and trust you right from the start.
Communicating without brand messaging is like designing a room with no design plan
Putting any communication together (whether it’s just a bio or an entire website full of copy) without brand messaging is like trying to design a room without laying any groundwork with your client first.
Would you ever jump into creating a design for a client without first setting clear intentions and goals with them, sharing inspiration back and forth, and agreeing on a specific direction for the design? Just as picking random pieces just because you like them won’t result in a well-designed, cohesive space, picking words and phrases for your brand communications because you like them isn’t going to give you effective, impactful messaging that lands with your ideal clients.
If you want to connect with your ideal clients, you need communications created through deliberate, intentional, well-thought-out decisions about your word choices, brand voice, and overall messages.
Common mistakes that stem from a lack of brand messaging
I believe strongly in the importance of brand messaging and I think any brand communications created without it are probably missing the mark in one way or another.
However, there are a few glaring mistakes I see again and again that are telltale signs of a lack of solid, thorough brand messaging.
Inconsistent or conflicting messages
This can include things like trying to reach high-end clientele while talking about your ability to work within any budget.
The lack of a clear, cohesive messaging direction throughout your website
Your website and other brand communications should create a harmonious experience for your prospects from start to finish. Not sticking to a single tagline or including too many overarching themes in your messaging confuses them and takes away from the impact of your words.
Generic messaging that doesn’t differentiate you
Vanilla is for ice cream–not your messaging. If you want to attract your ideal clients, you need flavor and color in your communications that give them a taste of who you are and what it’s like to work with you.
Any messaging that doesn’t reflect what your ideal clients care about
One of the biggest giveaways of this is any designer who tries to make their passion for design a differentiator. For the client, your passion is neither here nor there. Sure, they hope you like what you do but in the end, they’re not paying you to enjoy your work–they’re paying you to do an exceptional job for them. You need to help them connect the dots between your passion for design and how it makes the work you do for them exceptional or don’t talk about it at all.
Communications that leave your prospects with more questions than answers
A big part of being strategic with your brand messaging is putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes and anticipating their questions and concerns, then proactively addressing those items in your messaging. Designers often ignore this in the name of wanting their communications to sound clever or to feel more elevated, but using obscure language to talk about your services or not talking about them at all doesn’t help you get hired by your ideal clients. It just leaves them confused.
Brand messaging lets you have more control over all of your communications, ensuring you’re saying what you need to say to attract your ideal clients and create solid connections with them.
It can completely change the game for business as it gives you clarity and confidence to communicate strategically and intentionally about your brand on your website, on social media, and in person.
If your goal is to level up your design business by attracting better clients and projects, I promise you brand messaging has a major role to play in helping you get there!