Key branding messages and multiple audiences … don’t let this confuse you. This topic comes up quite a bit with nonprofits. They think their key branding messages are different for a funder than for their users. This is incorrect. The key branding messages for the organization need to be consistent in order to build a successful brand no matter who you are addressing. 

For some reason this is easier to understand when we look at businesses. If a department store’s brand is synonymous with being helpful and going above and beyond, then would their return policy be different in their men’s clothing department than in their women’s shoe department? They are different audiences, after all. No, the service and policies that demonstrate their brand are the same in all departments.  

The key messages are the same, what could be different is the conversation. 

The family dog died. 

To demonstrate this difference in conversation, I bring your attention to the family pet. Losing a dog is crushing. Sure, it’s not a brand message, but it is a message. You have a different conversation with your significant other than you do with your children about this issue. Some tell the flat-out truth and some sugar coat it (lie) according to your family’s branding policies, so to speak. Did your family dog go to live on a farm? Hmm. 

Get the picture? 

To help you sort this out, you can create a message matrix that looks something like this table below. Put your key branding messages across the top. These are those descriptors you want everyone to immediately attach to your company/organization. 

Your Target Audiences can be defined by demographics (what boxes they check on a form) and psychographics (how they think; their attitudes about things that don’t necessarily follow demographic lines). Some people like to create personas from these descriptions by fully fleshing them out and giving them names. If that’s helpful for you, go for it! 

Once you know who you are addressing, figure out how you would relay each message to them either in words or behavior

Key Branding MessagesMessage AMessage BMessage C
Target Audience 1   
Target Audience 2   
Target Audience 3   

Imagine you sell garden art made from recycled materials (or host an art program if you are a nonprofit) and your key messages are resourceful, affordable, and creative. Your main target audience is middle-class families who appreciate cool things, but don’t have a high disposable income. They care about the earth and want their children to adopt a recycling mentality. Your second target audience are professionals in sustainability who you want to purchase large art for their company’s offices and refer/endorse you to their clients. And the third is museums and galleries who can show your art.

Key Branding MessagesResourceful AffordableCreative
Middle Class FamiliesArt comes from what others discard. I pass my savings on to you!The garden art is a complete transformation of the trash. Can you see the Tide bottle? 
Sustainability ProfessionalsState how many pounds of plastics and scrap metal were used in the garden sculptures each year. Art is affordable; can sell more units to rescue materials from landfills. A creative part of the waste solution; recycled art on a large scale can make a big difference in landfills
Museums and GalleriesShows how people can re-use their trash, and make mindful choices about the products and containers they buy. This art is on display and for sale at prices that are accessible to middle class families on up. Not your typical art installation. Ecological and clever, while being a model for people to follow. 

Do you see how the conversation changes for each of those target audiences? The key branding messages are still the same. The brand is consistent no matter who’s listening. I encourage you to try it out for yourself. You can call these talking points, just make sure you don’t deviate from this key branding messages. 

Do you know a nonprofit professional or small business owner who can be helped by this? Please forward this to them and encourage them to subscribe. 

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