How to Clarify Your Message

Wondering how to actually clarify your Brand Message? Listen to this episode to find out. It covers:

  • What Clarifying your Message means.
  • The difference between messaging, marketing and copywriting
  • The 3 key elements to creating a clear message
  • How to get clear on your audience
  • The problems that can come up when you work on your message

Prefer to read? Here’s a transcript:

Hello, my friend, and welcome to this next episode of The Story By Design Show. So today, we’re going to be talking all about how to clarify your message. And before we kind of dive into all the juicy action steps and reflection questions and things like that, I just want to make sure that we’re clear on what it is that we’re actually clarifying, right, because brand messaging, you know, it’s one of my missions to make sure people have a clear understanding of it. But it is still misunderstood by a lot of people and through no fault of their own. Okay? And particularly when it comes to messaging versus marketing and copywriting, the, the lines can get really, really blurred. So I just want to spend a short amount of time right now to just clear that up for you.

Now, in simple terms, your brand message is ultimately what you communicate with your audience to create a desired perception about who you are as a business, and how you can help them. It’s really about understanding that greater meaning that you want to have as a business and what you want to mean to an individual. So to give you an example of this, let’s say you’re going to a networking event for your business. And by the way, the internet is basically one big networking event so this shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for your imagination, but in this pretend event that we’re going to, marketing would be getting strategic about the specific event that we’re actually deciding to attend. And when we arrive, it wouldn’t be about what our plan is for getting the attention of the people that we actually want to talk to, it might be about having our business card ready to hand out so that we can keep in touch with people. And also knowing how we’re going to continue to stay in touch with them once we’ve finished this particular meeting at this particular event.

Now, branding and brand messaging, on the other hand, would be thinking more about the perception and the feeling that we want to generate within people. So you know, brand design really is thinking about the type of clothes that we would wear or how we’re going to do our hair or makeup, or what shoes we’re going to wear, that’s kind of thinking about, you know, well what’s your logo, your colours. Now where messaging comes into this is actually really thinking and being very strategic about the message that that outfit is sending, right? So, if we choose to wear high heels, and a short skirt, and a baggy jumper, what impression is that creating, versus if we choose to wear trainers and jeans and a smart blazer? You know, people will always make assumptions about us. So it’s important to yes, of course, dress in a way that feels right for you. But also just be conscious about the perception that’s creating in people’s minds. And really making sure that that’s in line with how you want to be perceived as a human and as a brand. It’s also thinking about how you want someone to feel when they’re in your company, right? It’s whether you want them to feel like you’re super high vibe and energetic and lots and lots of energy to be around or whether you actually want to feel calm and reassured in your presence. And like you’re actually quite considered in your approach. It’s also having an understanding of what we actually want to be remembered for as well right, when the event is over and when everyone’s gone home. Your message is really touching on all of these things that create meaning within our audience’s mind.

Now copywriting in this same example, would relate to the actual words that were used, the things that we said when we spoke to these people, and you know what it actually said on our business card. Now, this is incredibly important, you know, words are incredibly important. And yes, we need to be really intentional with them. But it’s also really important to remember that our words are ultimately signposts that point to something bigger. And the evidence of this as well, is that often people won’t specifically remember the words that we’ve said to them, right? But they’ll remember the way that we meet, made them feel. And if they were then going to go and tell their friend about us or talk to somebody else about what we do. They’re not going to regurgitate our saying words, they’re going to actually interpret it through their own lens, but there’ll be describing the meaning that they took from your words. So when we’re talking about messaging, we can consistently referring back to the meaning that you want to have. And really, it’s only when you’re super clear on this meaning that you can then find the right words to create that perception in someone’s mind. And you can also then really leverage your marketing strategy to make sure you’re showing up to the people that are going to appreciate that meaning. And if we just follow this line of thinking through, say, at this imaginary networking event that we’ve talked about, and someone’s just met, like 50 people in an hour, or whatever, the people that are going to stick in their mind are those that made them feel something. And not just because they use some particularly fancy or persuasive language if you like, but because they connected with those on a deeper level, and the words they actually used meant something to us. And right now, in the world that we live in, it has never been harder to be seen or heard, right, it’s never been easier to set up a business, which is incredible, you know, you can pretty much start an Instagram page, have something to sell, and bam, you’ve got a business. But actually trying to be heard and seen by people, it’s incredibly difficult nowadays. And if you’re just working on your marketing alone, it’s like trying to just go to bigger and bigger networking events, or to find more ways to just keep putting yourself in front of people. And just hope that by the law of statistics, at some point, you will land in front of someone that gets it. Just focusing on your copy and the way you format your caption or reading the text on your website. That’s like choosing just to focus only on the tiny percent of communication that relies on words and ignoring the fact that the majority of how we communicate is nonverbal. And whether you’re into energetics or any of that woo-woo stuff at all, you can’t deny that you are able to pick on someone else’s vibe like that, yeah, you can instantly get a sense of what a person’s like by being in their presence.

Now, obviously, online platforms, they add a barrier where we aren’t necessarily able to get in front of these people physically, and trust that they’ll be able to pick up on all that nonverbal stuff. So we have to be really, really intentional to make sure that the right message is being sent by our presence. So when we’re talking about clarifying your message, we’re not talking about the words that you use okay? We’re talking about clarifying what it is that you want to fundamentally mean to people. It’s about uncovering that essence of what we’re trying to communicate. And just looking at the way that we do that across the board.

Alright, so let’s talk about getting clear. Now, the three components that you need to have a really clear message are as follows: Number one is a deep understanding of your audience, number two is clarity around how you want to be perceived by that audience, and number three is a shared reality between you both. So we’re just going to dip into each one of these topics now.

So, let’s start with your audience. Now, I have got a whole episode on niching as well, which I do recommend, as we talk more specifically about focusing on what’s relevant in terms of your audience. But just in context of creating clarity. What you want to do is make sure you know, crystal clear in your mind, who it is that you are trying to serve, what they’re like, what their personalities like, what their life looks like, what their values are. And if some of the more surface level or apparently surface level information is also important, it might be important to know what their job title is, or their business niche is. It might be important to you to know how long they’ve been in business, or how long they’ve been struggling with this problem, if that’s relevant? But you really do need to have absolute clarity around who this is. And so many of the ideal client avatars, or sheets, or any of that stuff that I see out there, so much of it falls short, in my opinion. And really, we just see the same surface level things going round. But when you think about audience, particularly in context of your message, the reason it’s so important to have this level of clarity is that if we want to mean something to someone and create meaning, we have to understand where they’re coming from, we have to understand their frame of reference, so that we can meet them there. So we can understand that when we use certain words, how they are going to interpret them, and just picking a totally random example here, I would say it’s a difference between somebody who is maybe into spirituality versus not into spirituality. I see the general advice out there being like, Oh yeah, be, don’t be too fluffy with your messaging in terms of you know, you’re here to help star seed soul women master their energetics and connect with their inner wisdom or something like that. But you know what, to your audience, that might be exactly the thing that they want to hear. To some people that’ll sound fluffy and vague, but to your audience, if that’s really who you’re trying to serve people that are quite far along in their spiritual journey, and really embrace that spiritual stuff, that language is going to be a huge turn on for them. So it’s really just about you getting crystal clear on who it is that you want to serve, what are they like? And what really separates them from somebody else who on paper looks the same? How do they think in a way that is different to other individuals that really separates them as your people? So if you want to get clarity on your message, you absolutely need to get clarity on your audience in a way that actually matters.

Now, secondly, we want to get really clear about how we want to be perceived, and what the role is that we are going to play in that audience’s life. So we need to think about, you know, what’s our personality like? What aspects of our personality are actually important to our audience? Where’s the line between us as a human being and us as a brand? How do we want people to think of us? What emotions do we want people to associate with us? What does our audience need to see from us to actually trust us? Why should they trust us? And what are our values that are really going to impact the way that we do business? This isn’t again, just about picking a list of random surface level words like, oh, I want to be a fun brand. Like why? Why do you want to be a fun brand? What’s important about that to you? And why does that actually matter to your audience as well? What’s that going to add to the service? What’s that going to add to the brand experience for someone? And is it in line with what our audience actually wants from us? And I guess I see this can become a problem, and can be an issue, when we are trying to maybe express more of our creative side as an individual, right? But it’s not really relevant to our business in a logical sense. And so we just start sharing more of our creative work, but our clients maybe aren’t looking for that from us, so what it can tend to do is actually muddy your message. Now, that’s not to say you can’t express your creativity. It’s simply about understanding why is this important? What is it bringing to you? How can you frame this in context of your audience, and in context of what you actually do, so that it can become a part of your message? There is always a way to make these things work. Trust me, I’ve worked with enough brands to know that there is always a way to make things relevant, but we have to be intentional about it. It’s when we’re not intentional, that’s when things feel vague and fluffy.

And then the final aspect of creating clarity in your message is around really understanding the shared reality. It’s about connecting the dots between the first two things that we talked about. So, talking about your audience, and around who you are to them. This is about understanding the world that you both exist in and making sure that everything you’re sharing is actually relevant to them is talking about why this is important, why they should care about you as a brand? Why are you relevant in this day and age? And why is the thing that you offer a need for them? And how can actually working with you or buying from you, how is that tangibly going to affect their lives? And again, this is where I see a lot of overgeneralization happening, right? I see people saying things like, Okay, you’re busy and overwhelmed. And a lot of people are busy and overwhelmed. And if this is something that you say you help with, I’m sure you absolutely do. But what I want you to make sure you’re doing to be clear in your message is really grounding it in a shared reality. So what does overwhelm and busyness look like for your specific audience in their reality? What is that shared experience? Do they actually secretly love being busy? Do they wear it as a badge of honour? Or is it something that they absolutely resent and are 100% craving that quiet time? It’s just really important to remember that we all see the world in very different ways based on our experiences, what we’ve got going on right now. And so we must be very intentional about grounding our message in these shared experiences.

So, just to recap, to clarify your message, you need to really get a deep understanding of who your audience are. And I want you to sit down as an action step, sit down and really go deep on this and think about all the things about your audience that are relevant and make sure you’re absolutely crystal clear on it, then you want to get clarity around how you want to be perceived by them, what role you play in their life, what is it about you that is relevant and important that they know? So that you can start to really intentionally shape their perception of you. And then finally, make sure that everything you’re sharing and talking about your message exists in this shared reality so get specific. Again, I really do recommend you go and listen to that niching episode as well, because I know it will. In that episode, I talk a lot about how to do this in a way that feels expansive and not restrictive, so yeah, do go check that episode out as well.

Now I just want to say I know that when I go through this, you will probably hoping for some simple three step, done in five minutes plan of how to clarify your message. But it really is a process of getting intentionally deep and intentionally clear and stripping back a lot of the stuff that isn’t relevant, so that we can actually understand what is. And I also just want to say that going through this stuff on your own is hard, right? And the analogy I always come back to time and time again, is that it’s like being inside a bottle and trying to read what’s on the label, but you can’t because you are stuck inside my friend. And so those questions of like, who am I? What do I want to mean? That can feel really intimidating, and big and scary, and often pretty overwhelming. And it’s also often the case that when we do start to unpick it, we can so easily get lost in our own narratives, we can talk ourselves down because we’re like, “Ooh, that sounds a bit vague”, or, you know, start to second guess ourselves or think that we’re coming across as a bit big headed, like, “What you think your fun? Fun people don’t have to say they’re fun! Who do you think you are?” We can end up having these internal battles with ourselves that ultimately ends up with us playing down our awesomeness. And actually creating softer, fluffier messaging because it feels less scary, and feels potentially even less exposing about what we really are here to do and say. But I have worked with over 70 brands by this point across at least 22 different industries and there’s been businesses that are relatively fresh, you know, kind of starting out in those earliest stages. But I’ve also worked with businesses that have been doing what they do for over 15 years. But these struggles if somebody has never got really, really crystal clear on what they’re here to do, and they are the person that ultimately represents these brands, their brand, these struggles with imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough. And it feeling really scary to put yourself out there and talk about something that you really want to talk about. These feelings are universal, right? The fear is universal. But the only thing that I have found that has really helped is working through this. It’s by claiming yourself as worthy, as valuable and really just owning wholeheartedly. What it is that you’re here to do. And it’s also about showing up for yourself and what you’re here to do consistently. Even when it’s hard, it’s about being committed to creating that greater meaning in somebody’s mind.

Now, I’m not going to launch into some big old sales pitch. But I just want to say, this is exactly why I’ve designed The Brand Chrysalis, it’s my next group experience, which is starting in March 2022. So, depending on when you’re listening to this enrolment may or may not be closed. But if you’re listening close to the release date, I do encourage you to go check it out. But over those 90 days and The Brand Chrysalis, we refine your message together, right? We go through it bit by bit. But we also do take weekly action to put it into practice, because so often this stuff is great on paper but actually getting out there and sharing it is a whole different ballgame. So, I’ve designed The Brand Chrysalis with that in mind to help you take action. And it’s really not just about making up some pretty words that sound good on paper, it’s about supporting you every single week for 12 weeks to just get out there, create content, irrelevant of whatever platform that you’re using, whether you’re creating blogs, writing emails, on Instagram, it really doesn’t matter. It’s about helping you create content that works for you. And that also connects with people on a meaningful level so that you can create relationships with those individuals that have potential to lead to sales, and life long loyalty. Within that experience as well. I have got two mindset coaches coming in, because I know some of those limiting beliefs can be hard wired and run deep. So I’ve got two amazing women coming in to help you move through those. Now I have been promoting it for a while and there are only limited spaces as well, because it’s really, really important to me that within The Brand Chrysalis you will never feel like just another face on the screen or just like a number. There’ll be the link to the full website page for The Brand Chrysalis in the show-notes for this. So please do go check it out. But I just want to say if you are at that point where you’re like Becky, I’m ready to clarify my message. I’m ready to get clear and ready to take the shackles off my voice and just get out there and make it obvious to people why the work I do is important, why it’s valuable, and really attracting those people that you are so excited to work with. Then please reach out and have this conversation with me and just know it’s super important to me as well that you feel empowered in this process. And I know investing a serious amount of money in yourself can feel terrifying sometimes, especially when something like brand messaging isn’t talked about all that much. And so it can feel like a bit more of a risk than investing in some classic marketing strategies or something along those lines, but I’m here to support you in this process. And no matter whether you end up paying me or not, in any capacity, I am honestly deadly committed to helping you make the right decision for you. But on that note, I just want to quickly recap about how to clarify your message and make sure you’ve got some really clear action points to take following this episode.

So firstly, make sure you spend some time getting super clear on your audience and having a deep understanding of who they are and what about them is relevant. Secondly, get really, really clear about how you actually want to be perceived. Sit down and think about, if someone could remember me for one thing, and one thing I will need, what do I want that to be? And then finally, just make sure that whatever it is that you’re coming up with that exists in a shared reality between you in your audience.

And to round off this episode, I just wanted to reiterate really, that your brand message isn’t some perfect piece of text. It’s not some magic sentence that’s going to solve all your problems. So if right now you’re sat there thinking like “But Becky, what format should this be in? Am I trying to write an I help statement? Am I trying to do X, Y, Z/” those things can be great. But if your end goal is clarity, you have to actually start messy. First, you have to get everything out on paper, digital, or physical, and essentially put all your cards on the table and see all the different ways that you really could express yourself, and then refine what it is you’re actually trying to communicate. As an example, my own brand message is really about using brand messaging to help women fully express themselves to express what they do clearly. Specifically, it’s for women who represent their brand, these women, even though they might not necessarily claim this word, they are heart led, the empathy levels are high. And so they not only want to communicate their message clearly, but they also want to do it consciously. So whenever I’m creating content, I have a very clear picture about the kind of woman that I want to speak to and I have a very clear picture of the role I play in this, as the guide, that’s here to help you figure that out for yourself by being absolutely lovingly honest but also making sure it’s a lot of fun as well, because I know this stuff can get heavy. And for me, if life’s not fun, what’s the point? I want to make sure we’re enjoying enjoying this process, because for most of us as well, business is a choice, starting our business is a choice. So we want to make sure it’s one that is actually rewarding for us to do. And the reality that we both exist in together is one where empathy is not necessarily at the top of the list for most strategies out there, or for most business coaches, or marketing gurus or whatever, they’re not necessarily leading with empathy in mind, they’re usually leading with profit in mind. And so trying to find a way to navigate this when actually empathy really is important to you, and coming from a place that is genuine and that is about more than money is important to you. This is the reality that we both exist in. And this heavily influences my own content and it influences my offers as well.

So as you can see, I message isn’t this neatly wrapped up thing, although of course, I do have the classic I help statements. I’ve got whole brand playbook with all of this stuff written up really clearly. But I just wanted to show that it can still be a little bit messy, but I know deep in my heart what it is I’m trying to say which is why it makes making content so easy for me. And on that note I am going to leave it here for today. I hope this episode has been helpful for you do go check out The Brand Chrysalis, especially if you’re listening to this before the end of February 2022 because enrolment, unless we filled up by the time you’re listening to this, enrolment will still likely be open. So I’d love to have a conversation with you about how I can help you clarify your message but fingers crossed there’s a lot to get you going in this episode and don’t forget to have fun with it.