Utilizing your positioning, you can create your branding foundation, which includes messaging and a visual branding strategy. Developing brand assets, such as your logo, helps tie your business’s offerings together, but they offer limited meaning without developing messaging guidelines, so don’t skip any of these foundational steps.
Your messaging should focus on your audience’s needs and the benefits of your services to resolve those needs. The key to messaging in this manner for subscription-based businesses is to do so incrementally, just like you are letting them experience your services incrementally.
Your sales and marketing efforts should be split into three tiers. Each marketing tier should focus on getting the customer to the next tier of services or products. The critical point is to do so without distracting them with other options.
Following this tier-based marketing, your messaging to non-customers should focus only on the entry-level service or products. Then, once they are a paying customer, your messaging efforts should focus on the next tier. This process continues for each tier of your offerings. You will likely have three tiers: 1) Prospects, 2) New Customers, and 3) Affiliate Customers (see Lead Nurturing).
Tip: Each tier should focus on one major value-add to encourage your customers to move to the next tier.
Based on your sales and marketing tiers, you will develop messaging guidelines to help guide your prospects and customers to the next tier. In these guidelines, include what benefits (not features) your products and services offer and only include necessary information. Including additional information beyond the next tier will likely confuse or overwhelm your audience, so be concise and specific.
Remember: Messaging guidelines should be shared across all departments within your company so all team members creating any form of content for your audience will be sure to share the same messages to the right audience segments at the right time. This includes messages on your website, in your email marketing messages, in your platform or app, and more.
Tip: Focus on how you’re different from your competitors when you develop your messaging guidelines. If you and your competitors say, for example, “Our software is easy to use. Try us for free!” you won’t stand out from your competitors. But if you focus on your positioning when developing your messaging guidelines, you will clearly set your business apart in the competitive landscape in such a way that cannot be duplicated.
When developing your messaging guidelines, be sure to add details about your brand personality. This will help your team develop the tone of voice of your content as well as narrow in on how to portray your business to your audience. Depending on your services and your company culture, you will have a distinct brand personality and tone of voice. Your business’s brand personality is tied to the words you use, but it is also emotional. It’s important that your brand personality, messaging, and visual branding are cohesive to ensure a cohesive customer experience.
Developing your brand personality is usually easier for a small business because your brand personality is often much like the personality of you or the founders of the business. Are you formal or funny? Are you modern or classic? Are you young or mature? Are you premium or affordable? Are you masculine or feminine? Will you sound like an industry expert or a mentor – or both?
Overall, who are you as a brand? And how do you want to portray yourself to your audience? This is your brand personality. Use it to humanize and individualize your messaging. This will help you distinctly speak to your audience.
Visual Branding Strategy
After developing your messaging guidelines, it’s important to create visual branding that will resonate with your messaging. Together, your messaging and visual branding create your brand identity, helping your audience identify you in the competitive market over time—as long as it’s consistent. Together, they tell the story of your business, but good visual branding doesn’t need many, if any, words.
Visual branding evokes emotions. Often, when a prospect views your branding and connects with it, they want more; or, they immediately can tell that your brand is not for them based on your visual branding. This is why having a visual branding strategy is so important. Not only must it match your messaging and audience’s needs, but it also needs to represent your brand fluidly, across all projects and platforms. For product-based subscriptions, this even means your offline pieces, including the box you send your products in.
Developing a visual branding strategy is very similar to developing messaging guidelines. You need to consider your business industry, unique offerings, and brand personality with the emotions you want to evoke.
For some subscription-based businesses, you will want your branding to convey a reputable, reliable, and trustworthy brand image, which may include elegant and simple lines and typography, while others will want to convey the ease and joy with which your customers experience when using your offerings, which may include more playful shapes, colors, and images.
Visual Branding Development
Once you know your visual branding strategy, it’s time to develop your assets. Common assets include logo, color palette, fonts, and types of images, but you may require additional assets based on your unique business needs.
As you develop your visual branding strategy, determine whether those pieces feel like your brand. Do they convey the message you want them to, even without words?
If your business is product-based, you may need to prioritize product photography along with your other visual branding development. (If your business is service-based, you can skip this section.) To create and gather your product photo assets, it’s best to streamline your photography processes. To do so, you should plan to take photos of all of your products in one day.
First, you will need to prepare for the photoshoot, including gathering products, a camera, and any background pieces or models, as well as creating a list or spreadsheet of all of the products, angles, and background or model combinations. For more details on how to prepare for a product photoshoot, visit this link.
Remember: Plan your photoshoot well in advance so you can ensure that you will get all of the photos you will need for your marketing and sales efforts for a while. Gathering these assets in a day or two (plus editing) is much easier than taking a new photo every time you need one. Then, be sure to share the edited assets with your team so they will use the right photos for all of their projects. This ensures a consistent look to your products in all marketing and sales pieces.
Tip: Get photos of your product from all angles with and without backgrounds and models. You will generally use your product-focused images with clear backgrounds on your website and your styled images with backgrounds and models for other content efforts, such as email marketing and social media.
Collect your messaging guidelines, visual branding assets, and photography assets, if applicable, in one place that is accessible to your entire team. All team members across all departments (development, sales, marketing, etc.) should use these guidelines so all messages to your customers and prospects are cohesive.
Our team works as a fluid extension of each of our member’s businesses by developing strategies and executing projects in whatever capacity is best for their unique needs.