bridgeDoes the concept of “key messages” make you cringe? Like, you’re afraid you’ll be co-opted into the scions who operate only on rehearsed messages, never deviating and devoid of all original thought.

Sounds like you might be fodder for a political operative who seizes on the fact that you’re saying the same thing over and over again? #scary

Developing key messages for your brand isn’t that risky. In fact, it’s actually necessary, even if you never utter a single one verbatim and keep them in a lock box (after you’ve developed a keen understanding of them and language to help you articulate them naturally, of course!)

You see, when you do this foundational work, it makes telling the story of your business and your brand that much easier, more compelling and more natural.

Here are four things you need to know about key messages:

Your key messages are the foundation of your brand communication

Your key messages, along with your brand story, form the foundation of your brand itself

Key messages are beliefs or assertions, backed up by facts. They are composed of a headline and a proof point.

“Great key messages create a bridge for the audience between what they know and what you can teach or to introduce them to.”

Here are five questions to ask yourself in order to develop a stable of key messages:

1) What do you do?

The answer to this question is your first and most important key message. There are so many great ways to answer this question, but for the purposes of key messages, you can answer it simply by filling in the blanks of this sentence: I’m a __________ who does ___________ for _______________.

2) What do you stand for?

Think about this in the context of your big mission and vision. What is your big bold “I Believe” statement?

Here’s how to home in on this value statement:

What’s “The World According to YOU?”

What do you know to be true about what you teach people to do?

And, what’s possible when someone embraces this idea?

3) What makes you different?

Whether a detail from the past, your training or your approach. This message conveys your key differentiator.

4) What value do you bring to your audience or clients?

What do people get out of working with you…What is your unique value?

5) What do you want your audience to remember above all else?

What’s the big takeaway? If they only remember one thing, what would it be?

Here’s your extra credit — write your mission statement. The previous five message prompts, when combined, deliver the basis for your mission statement. This can be your sixth message — a very important foundational element of your brand.

As you build your key messages, create a headline, then back it up with proof points. You might even consider starting this pursuit by resting these messages on key brand values.

For example, if you are a nutritionist, a key value might be “trust” as in trusting the body’s unique ability to communicate its needs.

The key messages “headline” might be “The body has a unique ability to heal and communicate what it needs to that end.”

The proof point might rely on a mini case study of a client who employed your program or principles to reduce the medications they were taking or the adverse health risks they were facing.

So, tell me: how do you feel about key messages? Important, or no? If you use these prompts to create your key messages, share them with us!