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Use the 3-Step Brand Book Method to Define Your Key Messages

We all love a good story...all the elements that make up a captivating read (or movie, or play).

What if we could take the 'book approach' and use it to help write our brand story.

Even just write the title of each chapter to help start fleshing it out! To give it a clear structure. To provide a basis to write our unique brand story that really captures the soul and the core values of what our brand stands for and what it is all about - our company, our heritage, our product or service offer, our commitment to innovation, our people...all these things make up what our brand is about.

Some people can get a bit freaked out when the word 'brand' gets thrown around. And I suppose rightly so, as the word 'brand', a bit like the word 'strategy', or even 'digital' these days, gets thrown around a lot and is used as a label for many things.

To keep it simple, think of a brand as the name of your best friend.

Then think of how your best friend makes you think and feel when you think about that person.

Then think about how your best friend acts, or what they say in certain situations - do they show up when you need them?, do they arrive on time?

Think about how they look? what they wear? What they believe in? What they stand for?

....this is brand.

Now imagine if you were writing a life story book about your best friend - what are the key chapters or areas you would talk about? These now take the brand into the Key Themes and the Key Messages.

Importantly, the key messages drive everything you communicate about your brand.

And great communications is like a the DNA definition of your brand.

Whatever your marketing communication mix (online, offline, through-the-line), unless you have a well-defined set of overall Key Themes, which flow into your Key Messages and all your Topics and Sub-Topics, then your messages will not be as unique and will not be as clear.

It's a noisy world out there - effective messaging is art, science and technology.

  • The art of turning the communication strategy into an incredible execution that connects and engages.

  • The science of understanding and influencing customer decision making (or buying) behaviour.

  • Then using all the available and relevant current and future-thinking technology to help deliver and engage with your audience.

It's very important your key messages are crystal clear and unique and you stick to a proven formula.

Sure, you will see the final advert or website or social posts etc, but the best brands have a well thought out strategy on how all these messages all link together.

It's the power of lots of tiny messages told consistently well that will add up to a powerful brand voice over time.

The secret to the most effective marketing communications is consistency.

Your brand story needs to told consistently well, over time - once you have defined it.

It's all these messages, using all the relevant communication mediums, across all the relevant communication channels that will add up to defining your brand.

Ultimately, your brand is not defined by you though! What? say.

Yes, you can heavily influence it - but your brand is ultimately defined by the thoughts and feelings of your audience.

The view, or the perception of your brand (that supports your product or service) is the true test of your brands positioning...this is in the mind of the consumer. A 'perceptual map' is a great tool to help flesh this out.


>>> Think of any of your favourite brands and think of the key words or images in your mind.

>>> Think of all the famous global brands and think of the key words or images in your mind.

>>> Even personalise it - think of your best friends - what images or words do you think of when you think of them?

We have always said that 'messing with branding, is like messing with Mother Nature, you only do it if you really have to'.

Branding is like a force you don't really see - it's very intangible.

And you should not mess with your branding too many times - unless your really have to - as every time you interfere with it, you are taking it off on a different direction.

Like we say...'messing with branding, is like messing with Mother Nature'.

The same is for the Key Themes and the Key Messages that define your brand or tell your brand story - these themes should be locked in for years at a time.

So what is the best way to define the key themes and key messages to support your 'voice of brand?'....the Brand Onion is a good one for defining the brand essence, but it doesn't really get into key themes and key messages.

There are lot's of fantastic models and methods out there. We find starting at the highest level and use the simplest and one of the most proven and effective methods, we call the 'The Brand Book Method' of key theme definition.


STEP 1 Imagine a book and put your Logo on the front cover

Even write your positioning statement or tagline underneath it

STEP 2 Write a list of 10x Key Themes your brand stands for

Just a few words or a short phrase - like a title for each chapter them you want to talk about

Think beyond the obvious ones such as your product or service

Think of everything that makes up what you do, your company, your offer

Put a few notes to each theme to help define it and explain it to others

STEP 3 Put these Key Themes in order from 1 to 10

Start from the top and think about the absolute most critical things

Then keep adding the others and re-sort them as you need

Add a few more if you need to

Now think of these 10 Key Themes as Chapters of a book

These are essentially the titles of each chapter

You now have to flesh out each Chapter (key themes) into more detail

Start by writing up to 10 Key Messages that could define each broad theme

There might even be more Topics underneath to help define it more


Over time you will end up with;


    • 1 logo - 1 brand positioning statement / tagline


    • 10 key themes or chapters of your book


    • 10 key topics under each theme (10 x 10 = 100)


    • 10 sub-topics under each topic (10 x 10 x 10 = 1000)

    • Add examples to help explain

    • Use different mediums to explain things (photos, videos, graphs)


This method can be done in a word document, an excel spreadsheet, or any idea generation tool you like to use.

As you define each 'Chapter Title OR Key Theme', go as wide as you can with your thinking - to make sure you capture everything and you don't miss anything.

After you have exhausted your version 1 draft, share it with a few people for feedback.

Leave it for a few days or even a week. Test it with a few people.

Then refine it to Version 2. Go again.

Then your Version 3 should be close to the final!

Think about it hard - don't think about it - review / refine - then lock it in!

We hope you enjoy using this simple but highly effective tool - please like / share / comment below.

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