Writing for Your New Brand: 5 Simple Steps
by Wade Livingston
Your custom colors are popping. You’re ordering nifty swag sporting your new logo. Your website is looking … wow. Just wow. It’s near the end of your branding project, and you’re ready to write.
I’m ready to write? Yes. Yes, you are.
CMOs and VPs of marketing at companies the world over know this moment of truth. At Focus Lab, many of our current and past clients have recently experienced it. (Future clients: Know that we’re ready to stand in the breach with you.) And whether you’re personally responsible for clicking the keys or the task falls to an in-house writing team, it’s a good time to take stock. So, let’s.
Let’s celebrate the new tools we often have at our disposal. Refined purpose, mission, and vision statements. An updated unique selling proposition and value proposition. Audience-specific messaging guidance. A narrative-driven brand story. An authentic voice and tone — even a fresh style manual. Everything you need to keep growing your brand through writing. Still, you’ve also got a lingering question.
How do I put it all together to actually create content? We got you. Let’s start with the Focus Lab trifecta.
During a Focus Lab project, we create some really cool deliverables (all those goodies mentioned above) that build on each other. But here’s a secret: You don’t have to go back to all of them individually to start generating content. Why? Because we value your time, and we’ve gotten pretty good at packaging stuff. You’ll need just three things:
- Brand Messaging Framework (BMF): Comprehensive but concise, the BMF contains all of your approved statements and outcomes, plus audience-specific messaging guidance. Short. Sweet. Super useful.
- Voice & Tone (V&T): While you’ll find a description of your brand voice in the BMF, V&T offers a deeper dive: applied examples and channel-specific advice. It helps you sing, in the right key, at the right moments.
- Style Manual (SM): Good writing has strong bones, and those build on consistent style and grammar. Look your best. Be your best. Turn the page on typos.
OK, I’ve got the tools — now what? Well, let’s sit down and put them to work.
Does practice make perfect? Maybe, but we prefer, “Process makes prose.”
First, a disclaimer: The process we’re about to outline isn’t the only way to draft effective messaging. Every writer is different, and some people don’t desire as much structure. But whether you’ve got a dedicated writing team or you’re a smaller shop wearing multiple hats — and regardless of whether you rebranded with Focus Lab or another agency — these steps work. They not only focus your messaging, but create muscle memory for faster writing with every rep. Let’s turn-and-burn.
- Identify your audience: Figure out who you’re speaking to and what they care about. Use the BMF’s audience messaging framework to ground yourself in their needs and pain points. If your intended audience isn’t included, that’s OK — just ask yourself what’s most important to them and go from there.
- Consider the medium: A tweet will read and feel differently than a blog post or an email or a case study. Browse V&T for pro tips on various formats. Evaluate how much real estate you have to play with, and how you can play with length, tone, and other variables to complement the channel and occasion.
- Draft targeted messages: Consult your unique selling proposition, value proposition, and audience messaging framework to emphasize your business’ key capabilities and benefits that matter to customers. Create a first draft of your content that gets to the point and prioritizes clarity. Think functional, not flashy.
- Inject personality and ethos: You’ve got a focused draft of what you want to say; now we can inject a little personality and adjust how we want to sound. Use V&T to decide what aspects of your voice to play up, where, and how. Look at your purpose, mission, and vision statements and see if you want to echo or evoke parts of them in your writing. Watch your content come alive.
- Edit and ship it: Break out the SM and double-check your prose — not only for grammar, but for key words and phrases to include or avoid. Check it again, and get another set of eyes on it, if possible. Done? Send it and smile.
Let’s recap: audience, medium, message, personality, proofread — AMMPP. Before long, that’ll be ringing in your head, and you’ll have the trifecta’s content committed to memory.
But if you’re still feeling stuck or lacking inspiration, try these bonus tips:
- Re-read your brand story: It’s the culmination and combination of all your messaging and verbal identity outcomes — the spirit of your new brand. It’s chock-full of example copy you can riff on and repurpose.
- Revisit design deliverables: Study early visual iterations and the verbal concept and expressions that accompanied them. These laid the groundwork for future storytelling.
- Riff with a buddy: Writing is hard; don’t shoulder the keyboard alone. Grab a coworker and spitball ideas. Fifteen minutes of brainstorming now beats hours of brow-furrowing later.
I can do this? I can DO this. Yes. Yes, you can.
Lean on the steps above to get started. Stick with them to get quicker. Make them your own to get even better.
Does practice make perfect? Maybe, but we prefer, “Process makes prose.” So, instead of straining for perfection, strive for momentum. You’ll succeed, and we can’t wait to see the word magic you make.
In the meantime, here’s to hammering the keys with newfound happiness.