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Whether you realize it or not, your brand has a message. Simply by existing, you’re putting a message out into the universe about who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

This message is your North Star. It’s the guiding light that helps you determine what to say and how and when to say it. It’s what allows you to build a bridge between yourself and your audience, develop a cohesive content strategy, and stay connected to your deeper purpose.

But having a North Star won’t do you much good if you can’t see it clearly.

That’s why it’s important you take time to examine exactly what your message is. Without that clarity, you’ll:

Struggle to create relevant content. Without an understanding of your underlying message, you may struggle to create content that ties into your business goals, your values, and your audience’s needs.
Find it difficult to connect with your audience. A clear, concise message is what allows your audience to know if they resonate with what you’re offering. Muddying the waters makes it more likely they’ll skip past you and onto someone else. Worse, you might wind up sending the wrong message.
Hurt your potential ROI. For all of the reasons above, your business goals may wind up further away than you’d like. How you communicate your message has a direct impact on how well your message leads you to success.
So what exactly is a business message, and how do you make sure it’s well-received (and understood)?

To clarify your message, you need to take a closer look at the four key elements that make up your North Star—elements that (not so coincidentally) also comprise a key part of the Brand Voice Process our clients experience when they book a Brand Voice Intensive

By considering these four components strategically (and re-examining them periodically), you can start to convey your message with intention and create a business that truly thrives.

Element #1: Identify Your Mission

Blog Image of White Puzzle Piece With Black Text Overlaid Vision and a Missing Yellow Space Overlaid Text Mission To Clarify Messaging
The first part of clarifying your message is identifying your mission. When asked what mission drives your business, you may be tempted to respond with your mission statement (if you have one)—the pithy, one or two sentences that summarize your mission on paper. In reality, however, your mission statement is only part of it. 

The mission itself runs deeper. It’s a part of your culture. When you talk about the mission of your company, you’re looking at the profound, consistent “why” behind your brand. This is your business’ reason for existing, and it’s a reflection of the values you support as a business.

As soon as you’re clear on your mission, you can make sure it’s reflected in your content strategy. For example, if your overarching mission is to improve access to healthcare, then it’s a good idea to review your content plans to make sure that focus is represented throughout.

Four questions you can ask yourself to identify your mission:

  1.  What is the single most important function of my business?
  2.  When people think of my brand, what do I want them to picture?
  3.  What core values are represented by my business?
  4.  What am I unwilling to compromise on?

Element #2: Understand Your Audience

Your mission is inseparable from your audience, which is another key element of clarifying your messaging. You need to know, intimately, who you serve and how you’re helping them in order to fulfill your business’ ‘why’.

When you’re clear on who your audience is, you’re able to speak with them more easily using a message they can connect to. It’s like constructing a bridge—comprised of a common language, relatability, education, value, and the offer of help—that makes them feel heard and understood. 

The clearer you are on your audience, the better. With this knowledge, you can create strategic content that speaks directly to their frustrations (and how you can alleviate them), which increases their trust in your brand.  

It’s particularly important to cultivate this intimate understanding, because as your business grows over time, your audience may shift. Be sure to check in periodically to see if your audience has evolved.

Three questions you can ask yourself to begin refining your audience:

  1.  What is the primary frustration or aspiration my audience has?
  2.  What qualities do my best customers/clients share?
  3.  What would disqualify someone from working with my brand?
Photographic Image of the Back of a Professional Speaker Addressing an Audience

Element #3: Elevate Your Vision

The third aspect of clarifying your message is your vision. Where your mission focuses on the now, your vision looks to the future. This isn’t just a fun “What if?” activity. It’s an opportunity for you to intentionally define where you want your brand to go.

When you’re clear on your trajectory, it becomes a simple matter of working backward. For example, if your mission is to improve literacy, and your audience consists of parents and schoolteachers, your vision paints a picture of how your work will look in the long term.

Will your brand be sponsoring literacy events? Will it be recognized in one specific urban area, or in cities across your country? Will you be the face of your brand, taking to stages and workshops to help teachers? Or will you have a group of trained experts to spread the message?

Once you’ve answered these questions (you can start with the ones below), you can begin to shape your long-term content strategy around your vision. For example, if you have a vision of eradicating illiteracy on a global level, include pieces of that goal, and the values inherent in it, right from the get-go.

Three questions you can ask yourself to clarify your vision:

  1.  What impact do I want my brand to have on my community? My industry? The whole world?
  2.  In five years, how will my brand ideally interact with customers/clients?
  3.  What role will I personally play in the spreading of my brand’s message? Will I be the face of it, or will I play a behind-the-scenes role?

 

Element #4: Define Your Content Pillars

Photographic Image of the Base of Four White Pillars to Illustrate Content Pillars
The final piece to clarifying your message? Your content pillars. These are the 2–3 topics that build the foundation of your content, and they have the most direct impact on your content strategy.

Often, we fall into the trap of creating a lot of content about a lot of different things. The problem with this is it can confuse our audience. It’s far better to be really good at talking about a few topics that align closely with your brand.

For a deep dive into identifying your content pillars, and what fits within them, head here.

Once you know your pillars, make sure they’re aligned with your business goals. You may need to periodically rework or refine old content so it aligns with your pillars, and that’s okay. The good news is that, with only a few main topics to focus on, you can create a powerful content strategy that requires minimal effort and shares your message across multiple channels.

 

Four questions you can ask yourself to choose your pillars:

  1.  If I broke my mission into 2–3 main topics, what would they be?
  2.  What product or service(s) does each of those 2–3 topics tie to?
  3.  What content do I already have that fits within these areas?
  4.  What new content can I create to fill gaps (or what content can I rework to erase confusion)?

Revisit the Process of Clarifying Your Message Periodically

As your business grows and changes, these elements may change slightly. That’s okay—it’s normal. Odds are they won’t alter drastically (unless you pivot or start an entirely new business). That said, almost every business endures a micro pivot or two, and even if it doesn’t, it’s important to have a pulse on where you stand.

You can easily remember the four elements you want to evaluate periodically with the acronym VAMP: Vision, Audience, Mission, Pillars.

The word VAMP actually has its roots in music. 🎵

In musical terms, “vamp” means to repeat something. Your brand’s North Star—its VAMP—is something you will come back to, time and time again, refining it as you shift and grow.

Once you hone in on your North Star, it becomes a guiding light for everything you do in your business. It creates a strategic pathway to a more successful business.

Gain Even More Clarity With a Brand Voice Intensive

Your VAMP is essential to your brand’s messaging, but these four components aren’t the only pieces you should focus on.

Understanding your brand’s personality—or Brand Voice—is key to creating content that aligns with who you are, cuts through the noise, and builds trust with your audience. Through our Brand Voice Intensive, we spend time getting to know you and your brand and capture and document what we learn in a detailed guide made just for you.


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