What Is the Audience Messaging Framework and How Do I Use It?
by Sebastian Fryer
Discovering (or rediscovering) your organization’s brand can be exhilarating, like watching it come to life right in front of your eyes. As things start to come together and communications work begins, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and jump ahead to tangible outcomes: website mockups, ads, slogans, scripts, and so on.
But wait! Are we considering your brand’s communications from a position of clear, thought-out strategy? Do we have a practical, powerful foundation for messaging?
To help with that, we have the Audience Messaging Framework.
What is the Audience Messaging Framework?
A part of Focus Lab’s communications suite, the Audience Messaging Framework, or AMF, provides you with guidelines for your brand’s messaging and techniques for telling those messages. It comes after we’ve developed core messages (your purpose, mission, and vision statements) and situational messages (unique selling proposition and value proposition). At this point, we’re just starting to consider external-facing messages.
Before we can define voice and tone, craft the brand story, or provide example messages, we need to assemble the right foundation. And that’s where the AMF comes in. Informed by our years of experience guiding organizations through the branding process, the AMF takes the form of a large table that’s clearly segmented out and easy to read.
Your brand is unique, and likewise, your AMF is tailored specifically to your organization, your audiences, and the relationship between the two. While it may include a wide range of recommendations — such as how you might handle audience-specific nuances or tricky topics related to your business — each and every recommendation derives from strategy.
How the Audience Messaging Framework works
While every AMF is unique, each describes the same process.
First, we begin with your audience, the people your brand will be speaking to and the things we know about them. We identify who your target audience is, whether that’s one specific group or a number of different groups. We determine their pain points — the practical things that trouble them during their day-to-day — as well as their emotional needs, which are the less tangible things they desire. Maybe your brand has one audience with a specific pain point you’re solving; perhaps your audience is more complex, with a number of groups that have varying pain points and needs. Whatever the case, these factors inform your AMF, which is flexible enough to account for whatever reality your brand faces.
We then consider how your brand is uniquely positioned to solve those pain points and needs. We don’t consider this at just the product or service level; we consider this from a higher, more inclusive brand level. In other words, how might your brand — not just the product or service your brand offers — help your audience? Inspire them?
We carefully consider this interaction. Doing so can bear some fruitful insights, and it’s those insights that inform our messaging guidelines — our recommendations around concepts, themes, and topics you’ll want to lean into in order to craft meaningful messages that resonate with your audience.
Here are a few examples of recommendations you might see in your brand’s AMF:
- Build authority by providing case studies that demonstrate the range of your offering’s applications.
- Position your offering as the easiest to engage with, the only solution your customers need today and as they grow.
- Without getting too specific, explain how your brand designs its offering with the individual in mind.
What the Audience Messaging Framework isn’t
The AMF is your brand's quick-start messaging guide, a jumping-off point for all the stories your brand can tell, driven by the factors that make your brand and the relationship it has with your customers unique. The framework provides you with avenues to pursue when messaging, and it might even provide suggestions for what your brand should say and how you could say it. But importantly, and maybe surprisingly, it doesn’t include any actual messages themselves.
Why is this? For one, the AMF has a specific focus on the “what” of your messaging. It works alongside your brand’s voice and tone — which serves as the “how” of your messaging — to bring your copy to life.
And, while we may be experts on your new brand, you’re ultimately the best expert in what your audience needs and how your brand aligns with that. In that way, the AMF provides a blueprint for you to develop your own messaging. It’s something you can share with your marketing team — or whomever else you trust with your brand communications — to inform your marketing strategy and inspire your messaging.
A flexible tool that grows with your brand
The Audience Messaging Framework provides you with pathways to success in communicating via your brand, a snapshot of sorts that captures the current relationship you have with your audience. But, of course, things change. It’s likely that your brand will grow, your audience will change, and your product or service will adapt. And that’s where the final benefit of the AMF lies.
The AMF isn’t just a framework, model, table, or document. It’s also a way of thinking. A formula that you can keep and use yourself to develop future messages for your brand as it grows alongside your audience. A strategic process for formulating the messages that will resonate most with your audience. One that we’ll give you a head start with — but that you’ll find just as much, if not more, success with once your brand is out there engaging with your audience in the way that only your brand can.