When Less is More (How to create a brand message that resonates)

In brand message, you need the simplest but strong language in order for it to grow naturally in the consumer’s mind.


There’s only one place your brand lives: in the mind of the consumer. The problem is consumers’ minds are fickle and the marketplace is a one big pile of competing brands. That’s why it’s so easy for brands to lose relevance with customers quickly, especially in this attention economy where connections are real time and the abundant choice and consumption.


In this era of attention and fast-moving communications, strong brands need to be exceptional at one thing. Yes, ONE thing ––not the jack-of-all-trade-brand. You can’t be good at many things; your brand should be able to represent a single value that can reside in the minds of the target audience. That one thing is the unique value that your brand delivers. It should be simple, ownable, and with differentiated position.

The goal is to penetrate consumers’ minds. Therefore, you need to ensure that your brand message is on point.


What is brand message?


It is the story of your brand. The value proposition of your brand that you convey to the target audience through your brand personality and positioning. One of the widely recognized brand messages is Nike’s ‘Just Do It’. Launched in 1988, campaign message featured professional and amateur athletes talking about their accomplishments. One of the TVC spots featured a video of 80-year-old marathoner Walt Stack who explains to viewers how he runs 17 miles every morning. The brand story aroused an immediate emotional response from the audience and asked if these athletes can do it, why can’t I?

Nike’s brand message became the company’s signature slogan, and turned a niche brand into a global multibillion-dollar giant. That phrase etched in the minds of consumers and it became almost interchangeable with the brand.


Create a brand message that resonates.


First rule: your brand message needs to be bigger and better than your competition. When we say MORE, it doesn’t mean longer and bolder message. Catchy taglines are not enough. There’s a lot more that goes into your brand messaging than looping a few words together and giving enough flair to make them unforgettable. It should be able to answer what your brand is all about and what it stands for in a simple yet strong message. In other words, a brief and easy-to-understand communication that tells a story.

In the book ‘What Great Brands Do’ by Denise Lee Yohn, it states that the magic lies in inspiring a positive feeling in the customer and finding a way to resonate with their values and desires. Therefore, it’s not just about your brand but what’s in it for your target audience. Marketers should work on the brand positioning, value proposition and the audience in the messaging development process.


According to Philip Kotler, it is the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market. Simply put, it is the process of positioning your brand in the mind of your customers. It is more than a tagline or a logo, brand positioning is the strategy used to set your business apart from the rest.

What sets you apart from the competition? Successful brands like Google and Post-it have one important thing in common: a strong brand and a simple message that’s so easy to understand. In fact, their brand names have become generic terms for all similar products in their niche. When you need to search online, you don’t “use the search engine”, you “Google it” instead. When you need to leave a note, you don’t use “sticky paper”, you write them on a “Post-it”. Brands like these have become so recognizable–– they’ve replaced generic terms for similar products. A good brand positioning involves creating brand associations in customers’ minds to make them perceive the brand in a specific way.


A value proposition defines the benefits your company’s products and services offer to the customer. Why this is important in your messaging process? If you are unable to communicate your value to your customers, why should customers place value in what you offer? If you are unable to tell customers why they should choose you and why they should pay what you are asking, why would they?

If you look closely why someone should buy what you are offering, it contains three components:

WHO: defines clear value that matters to the target buyer.

WHAT: defines the value of what is being offered in the context of a buyer.

WHY: demonstrate that the offering is uniquely valuable to the buyer.

A value proposition should be clear, compelling, and differentiating (1).

  • Clear: immediately identifies both the offering and the value or benefit
  • Compelling: conveys the benefit in a way that motivates the buyer to act
  • Differentiating: sets the offering apart or differentiates it from other offerings


Knowing your audience is critical to your brand messaging. Cultivating a clear strategy is nearly impossible without understanding the audience on the receiving end.

The first step in understanding your audience is to build a foundation by getting to know who they are on a demographic, cultural and emotional level. This helps develop a buyer persona for your potential customer.

Choose specific demographics to target:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Marital or family status
  • Occupation
  • Ethnic background

Consider the psychographics of your target:

  • Personality
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Interests/hobbies
  • Lifestyles
  • Behavior

Outlining your target audience is crucial and actually a difficult part. But once you know whom you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out how you craft your messaging that will resonate with them.


Combine these fundamentals to create a full messaging framework that is simple and easy to understand. The best brand messaging connects with its audience. Put yourself in their shoes: if you’re on the receiving end of the brand message, the effect should be, “this speaks to me”. This will ensure the customer experience isn’t fragmented by mismatched messages, and most importantly, will help your target audience see your brand the way you want it to be seen.

(1) https://courses.lumenlearning.com/clinton-marketing/chapter/creating-the-value-proposition/



Justine Castellon is brand strategist, a marketer and a writer. She authors in-depth marketing guides for entrepreneurs and other existing brands. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn: @justcastellon

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