Brand Communication

Communicating in large organizations can often feel like that old game of telephone. Messages get distorted and misinterpreted as they are delivered through various channels and by an assortment of people with communication accountabilities. The teams in charge of communicating often think they’re delivering the right message and usually have good intentions. However, by the time a message is churned and reprocessed, the original intent may be slightly or completely altered. This can result in competing or conflicting information that may create confusion or mistrust among audiences, whether internal or external.

Message Architecture Provides a Communication Road Map

How can communicators avoid message conflicts and ensure consistency in content, tone, and style? A message architecture is the place to start. It provides a road map for those who create and distribute content, whether internal or external. We always tell clients that a message architecture should simplify and amplify. It should break down complex ideas and concepts into basic information that emphasizes the most critical elements and details. Then those elements can be used to create a hierarchy of message blocks, starting with the most basic contextual statements. These foundational elements are supported by other blocks of content that have more in-depth information and may be written to address the needs and questions of specific audiences.

The ultimate goal of any message architecture should be to align the communication behind the brand. Key messages should be put through the filter of your brand to ensure that every communication, whether internal or external, aligns with the customer promise.

Best Ways to Use a Message Architecture

We’ve blogged in the past about how to create and use a message architecture to communicate change initiatives. There are many other instances when a message architecture can be useful in communicating key information including:

  • Product or service launches. Use a message architecture to ensure that internal teams understand the value proposition and positioning of new products or services. This can be helpful to sales and service teams, and also plays an important role in connecting new products or services to your existing brand.
  • Training initiatives. If employees need to learn new processes or skills, a message architecture can build context for the training by emphasizing why it’s important and how the new skill or behavior connects to the brand promise.
  • Re-branding. When undergoing a brand change, a message architecture can help internal and external audiences understand the change and what it means to them. Internal audiences will want to know how a re-brand affects their accountabilities. External audiences will want to know if this change could impact their relationship with the brand as a customer, vendor, or partner.
  • Organizational changes. When a shift in strategy or leadership requires a change in the structure of an organization, a message architecture can provide context and rationale. Creating strong and consistent messages is especially important when employees have concerns over the status of their jobs and how their accountabilities may change.
  • Employee value proposition. Consistent and aligned messages play a critical role in communicating your value proposition to current and potential employees. In large organizations where there may be many people with hiring accountabilities, the message architecture ensures consistent information is given to all prospective employees and also help managers and leaders communicate to current teams.

Investing time to create a solid message architecture will make it faster and easier to build content that aligns behind your brand while communicating key messages to internal and external audiences. It provides a clear roadmap that any communicator in the organization can follow, which will ensure consistency in content, tone, and style across all communication channels. Kennedy Communications has created message architectures for a number of leading national and global brands. If we can help you organize and align your messages, contact us today.

 

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.