Brand Messaging: Clarifying Your Narrative

Brand Messaging: Clarifying Your Narrative

Personal fulfillment. Achieving goals. Living deliberately and consciously. These are key pieces of your personal brand, and you have total control over them.

But where do you begin when you’re faced with such immense concepts? What do you do to get the ball rolling in the right direction? And will this blog post be free of geeky pop-culture references? Your answers await…

Brand Messaging

Everything you do or say establishes or reinforces some part of your personal brand. Everything. It only makes sense to determine what you want that brand to be so that your words and actions are deliberate and meaningful to your goals and your fulfillment. This is where brand messaging comes in.

By laying out exactly what your brand is, exactly who you are/want to be, you are taking the first steps towards strengthening your brand and amplifying your successes.

The exercise:

Part one of the exercise takes the shape of an interview that begins on a broad, superficial level, drilling down through several layers and ending as an intimate, personal exploration. Each set of questions gathers important information and opens the door to the level down. The structure of the exercise is such that surprising insight develops from this (typically 1-3 hour) conversation. We’ll look at that structure in-depth in another post.

Part two of the exercise is where the magic happens. In a collaborative effort between the facilitators of part one and some fresh eyes, The information is filtered, restructured, spun, and distilled into three brand messages:

  1. What do you do?

  2. How do you do it?

  3. Why do you do it? – This last question is meant to drive deeper than merely the product or service. If you were doing anything, why would you be doing it? What gets you out of bed and into the office every day?

Steering clear of industry jargon and corporate lingo, the product of the exercise is a set of plain-language descriptors that can be used by you and your team. Each of these is intended to encapsulate a specific layer of your brand; together, they drive your brand narrative.

Case Study:


Nettleton Shoes


Nettleton-Oversized-Box-4-of-5_Paintings_11This high-end men’s footwear brand was wildly popular since its inception in 1879, gracing the feet of commercial titans and men of state. Due to various interruptions in supply lines and economic stressors that saw the company change hands (eventually returning to the original owners), Nettleton Shoes came off the market for a number of years. Rediscovered and reinvigorated for a new generation, Nettleton Shoes is poised to once again become ubiquitous with fashion-minded professional men.


What do you do? – We make the classic shoe for the True Modern Gentleman.

How do you do it? – For over 120 years, Nettleton has infused old-world craftsmanship and the finest materials into timeless statements of style and prestige.

Why do you do it? – A man of worth deserves a lifestyle as rich in quality as it is in tradition.


Those three simple messages are the elegant transcription of dozens of pages of notes, with cross-referenced subjects and oft-repeated words and phrases. The messaging team for this account sat in a dimly-lit room and listened to the Godfather soundtrack as we worked. By integrating the people that were “in the loop,” and by having them explain the company’s positioning to the new people, everyone was able to reach a more concise understanding of the client and their story.

Once you have your core messages, there are a lot of options available to you. The important and often difficult work of distilling the brand into three phrases gives you and your team a jumping-off point from which to begin your marketing journey.

…and I did it! No comic book or science fiction references in sight (I hope I haven’t been replaced by a Cylon)!

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