Elevate Your Small Business Brand with a Brand Messaging Guide

Elevate Your Small Business Brand with a Brand Messaging Guide | Rising Tide Society
image by Lindsay Davenport Photography for Jess Jordana

Imagine with me, will ya?

You sit down to write a caption, an email sequence, or update a page on your website.

You open up a Google Doc to get started, and something weird happens.

Instead of feeling that instant panic, that I-have-a-million-other-things-to-do syndrome, and deciding to go and delete all your old mailing addresses on Amazon (i.e. SO IMPORTANT)…

The writing starts to flow.

You know what you’re gonna say.

You know how to say it.

And it all gets done before you can say, “Ugh. I’m not a writer. I’m not creative. This is THE WORST.”

My friend, it is more than possible. BUT, it’s time we quit starting from scratch when it comes to writing copy or content for our businesses.

In fact, if you want to elevate your brand, you need to flesh out a core, consistent brand message you can use as a foundation for REPEATING WHAT MATTERS to your audience on a regular basis.

What is a Brand Messaging Guide?

A Brand Messaging Guide is the foundational element of our copywriting process over at Jess, XO, and it’s every single one of my clients’ FAVORITE project deliverables.

It’s a magical document that holds all the clarity your message needs. Having your mission statement, UVP, brand dictionary, style guidelines all in one place will equip you to show up consistently with content, yes. 

BUT, it’s also the perfect document to pass off to new team members, contractors, and anyone else who needs to implement your message and stay consistent.

Elevate Your Small Business Brand with a Brand Messaging Guide | Rising Tide Society
image by Lindsay Davenport Photography for Jess Jordana

What to Include in Your Brand Messaging Guide

Mission Statement: Even more than what you do, think about how you want to make people feel and the bigger impact you want to make.

Unique Value Proposition (UVP): This one needs to be concise and clear. What do you do + how do you do it differently?

Elevator Pitch: Imagine you were at a networking event (*shudders*) and you had to explain to someone what you do. That’s your elevator pitch. It could include parts of your UVP or mission. 

But, remember: Your UVP and Mission are speaking directly to your audience. They might be much more aware of the value of what you do than a random person at a marketing event, or the old guy at the grocery store. Having your elevator pitch locked and loaded means you won’t run into a situation where you say, “Um, yeah, I write words and stuff.” Which I may or may not have literally said at one of my first events as a business owner.”

Pro Tip: Even though these three may feel repetitive and inextricably linked, they each have their own magic and purpose, so don’t skip over any of them. Trust.

Core Values: What are the values you live by? Chances are, these are going to be linked to why it is you do what you do, AND/OR they’ll be linked to your audience and what they care about most. Keep these short + concise, so you can remember them or put ‘em up by your desk.

Ideal Client Avatar(s): Chances are, you’ve gone through at least one ideal client worksheet. Probably more like 73 or so. Take the information you’ve gleaned from your actual audience (not just the info you made up!), and dump it into this document for safe-keeping and easy access. You can include the typical age, occupation, level of education, where they shop, etc.

I like to also include psychographics: What do they fear? What do they value? What’s their problem? What are their objections (to what you provide)? Remember to create more than one profile if you have differing services. Don’t try to create a blanket Sally the Sewer who’s age 35-47, has two occupations, a million problems, and all that jazz.

Brand Dictionary: What do you say often? What don’t you say? This can be words or phrases. To get you started, think about how you respond when you’re excited, how you greet people, what you do when you’re fired up (or if you get fired up at all?).

Brand Voice + Tone Guidelines: For this section, think emotions + tone. Are you intense and challenging when you’re giving value to your audience? Are you filled with grace and encouragement? Do you want your people to feel supported, to catch your southern charm, or to see a glimpse into your pop-culture-obsessed life?

Style Choices: I was an English major, so I’ll go to blows over the Oxford comma any day. (Hint: There IS a right way and a wrong way to punctuate a list in a sentence, but you do you, boo.) This style section includes choices you make (think: grammar + punctuation + etc.) that need to stay consistent across all your writing. For example, I use A LOT OF CAPS. I tend to yell when I’m excited, so it works. I use the Oxford comma, cause duh. And I also use a lot of parentheses, because I like to emulate the feeling of making jokes under my breath. (I’m not like a regular writer, I’m a cool writer.) All of this goes into the style choices section!

Email Protocol: Greetings, signature salutations, and how you structure your email responses matter for consistency’s sake. But, they also help you to not have to reinvent the wheel when you respond to an inquiry of any kind. This is also a PRIME piece for finally handing off some aspects of your workflow to your team or contractors.

Elevate Your Small Business with a Brand Messaging Guide

So, are you convinced?

In order to have a consistent brand voice and cohesive content presence, it’s time to stop reinventing the wheel and create a Brand Messaging Guide instead. Capish? 

(Confession: That word is NOT in my brand dictionary, and now I feel weird and awkward, don’t judge me, kthanksbye.)


Jess Paxson

Jess Jordana Paxson is a copywriter (a.k.a. heart translator) who helps creative business owners turn their personality + value into words people actually “get” through custom copywriting and her DIY solution, The Promptlate Shop.

She drinks iced coffee all year round, and firmly believes if date night isn’t tacos, you’re doing it wrong.

She couldn’t do a day in business without her cute hubs (Presley) and pup (Joey Tribbiani). She’s worked with everyone from amazing solopreneurs to organizations like The Rising Tide Society and HoneyBook. BUT, her most impressive accomplishment was surviving teaching in the high school classroom and getting to meet her former students for coffee when they come back from college.

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