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The Purpose and Proper Use of Key Messaging

April 23, 2018
BourneMost everyone knows the Jason Bourne movie franchise, starting with The Bourne Identity, based on the first book of the Robert Ludlum trilogy. There have been at least three sequels. And I hear another one is in the works. Shown here is a poster for the original movie. The artwork created for the poster is called key art. This image of a gun-totin’ Matt Damon on the run appeared on the poster, on advertising, on standees, online … anywhere it might help convince someone to see the movie. Because stars sell tickets, Matt Damon’s name and image dominate. But, because female lead Franka Potente is well-known in her native Germany, her image was added, just to the left and behind Matt, to the key art used there. There are usually other, smaller scenes depicted in the key art to give movie-goers an idea of what to expect from the film. For any product or service that needs to be marketed, key art is important. Key messaging  works in much the same way. Extrapolated from a brand’s Positioning Statement, key messaging is designed to influence the way a market feels about a brand.

Brand platforms need three key planks:
  1. Purpose Statement
  2. Mission Statement
  3. Positioning Statement

We’ve covered these in some detail in past posts and I’m sure they’ll get covered again in future ones. But for now, let’s just look at the Positioning Statement and the key messaging that comes out of it. Let’s look at how and what that communicates about a brand.

The Positioning Statement defines how a market should perceive a brand in order for it to have maximum competitive advantage over the rest of the market. More than that, it should define how a market should feel about the brand. It’s usually written in very simple terms so it’s easy to “get it” on a visceral level. Once you do the research that results in you defining your Purpose Statement and Mission Statement, you can deduce how you want your market to think of you. Now explain it, and make it believable, to a 12 year-old child. That’s the idea.

Exagoge+2_midHere is an example of a positioning statement Boardwalk is developing with a Los Angeles-based, non-profit theatre group. It’s still subject to some change. It could be shorter, for instance. But the general idea is intact.

“theatre dybbuk* is an intensely creative performing arts group that genuinely moves people with meaningful, engaging experiences based on modern interpretations of Jewish tradition.”

The goal is not to have everyone who comes in contact with theatre dybbuk to be able to recite this statement. The goal is to have everyone feel this is the truth about them. This is their brand promise. This is what they’re going to deliver if you engage with them. But to get people to feel this way the group has to communicate. This is where key messaging comes in.


Are you interested in learning more about how Boardwalk communicates a brand promise?_____________________________________________________

Whatever topical messages need to be communicated over the life of any business, “one-day-only sale” or “we’re hiring”, whatever, there should be some sort of messaging that reinforces the feelings articulated in its positioning statement. This is key messaging. Very often key messaging is integrated into advertising messaging. Sometimes it is run alongside it. Some brands run completely separate brand advertising solely to deliver their key messaging.

So take theatre dybbuk’s above Positioning Statement. When it’s finished they can add one or another of their many stories to it and turn it into an elevator self-introduction.

They can add the who-what-when-where-and-why kind of information that journalists need and turn it into the boilerplate language at the end of their press releases.

They can add more detail as they go and write 50-word, 100-word and 250-word descriptions of their group. That way, they’ll have them at the ready when a journalist calls them up and asks for “250 words on what it is you guys do.” No one will have to scramble to write something and make sure it’s on-brand. It’s already done.

They can add these descriptions to any of their advertisements, programs, website, social media or any other communication. They’ll know, each time they do, they’re reinforcing the brand positioning they want. Key messaging, written and used properly, will eventually “train” the market to have the kind of feelings about the brand that are advantageous to its future growth.|
* The lower case initials are intentional.

Best Branding Reads – Week of April 23, 2018

Milan Design Week 2018: The Stand-Out Brand Activations
While the rest of us were at Coachella, the great brands of the world were showcasing in Italy.

Building Brands For The Women Over 50 Market
Still under-appreciated as a market … and as a resource.

Why brands are failing to deliver the intuitive, online experiences that modern women crave
The stereotypes: Men want to buy something; they go to the store, buy it and leave. Women want to linger, shop around, enjoy themselves. To the extent it’s true IRL, it’s true online as well.

Brand Authenticity In The Age Of Post-Truth
An interesting read. I especially liked the line, “Authenticity … the cornerstone of diversity.”

New Logo for Swedish energy company, Vattenfall
I’m more enthusiastic about this than the reviewer. I think the mark is a bold solution and one that will prove versatile and memorable down the road.

MoMA Sues New Café and Gallery “MoMaCha” for Trademark Violation
You’re busted, café owner. Give it up. 

Interview: Asma Shabab Merges Creativity and Tech Every Day at IBM
Excellent interview. Stand-out quote: “60% of data, if not used immediately, is wasted.”

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