I was in a Vodafone store, about to purchase my first proper smart phone a few years ago. Android or iPhone? It was a big call as I was likely to stay with whatever platform I chose for many years. I called a few tech journalist pals in-the-know and the gurus offered a resounding answer: it’s got to be Android. Armed with this clear instruction, I call over the sales assistant, “Hi,” I say, “I would like to purchase an… an… iPhone please.” I had unwittingly become a victim of Apple’s incredible brand that seemingly overwrites all logic.
Apple’s messaging is very powerful. As one of the world’s most successful branding and marketing companies, Apple uses a mantra to brilliant effect: ‘Think different’. Ryanair, arguably Ireland’s most impactful business, is another great exponent of the power of a mantra. ‘The low fares airline’ mantra both guides its strategy and communications with customers.
There are many learnings PR professionals can take away from these two enterprises. This blog provides the simple steps needed to create aligned communications that will talk to customers, employees and other relevant stakeholders in a consistent way that enables you to create an authentic brand that people will trust and want to engage with.
Revealing the message
We have such fun helping our clients craft their messaging platforms. It is great to see their reactions as our process unfolds to reveal their strategically aligned messaging in a format that’s simple to use and recall, as well as being differentiated and substantiated.
But first things first: What is a messaging platform? In Comit, when one of the team opens a messaging platform, it is not typically Viber, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. It is more usually a client’s one-page messaging platform, which we use to quickly and easily craft press releases, develop interview briefs and a host of other communications for them.
The value proposition
The messaging platform is an expression of a business’s fundamental value proposition, from which all communications and brand tools should be built. It is an outline – on a single page – of why a business is best-placed to add value or solve problems for its customers or market.
When used effectively, a messaging platform becomes the baseline for all communications – from press releases and media interviews, to advertising and presentations. The best messaging platforms are not just a public relations or advertising tool; they are a reflection of the strategic advantage of a business or product.
How does Ryanair do it?
The world’s best marketing-led companies align their messaging strategy with their business strategy. Ryanair’s customer message couldn’t be simpler: ‘The low fares airline’. Its business strategy is to be the industry leading low cost airline and all communications substantiate this.
When was the last time you heard Michael O’Leary, or one of his team, fail to deliver the company’s low fares mantra several times – and in multiple ways – in an interview? Look at Ryanair’s website, its ads, its press releases. The message is unavoidable; it’s omnipresent.
So what does a good messaging platform contain?
1. An overarching mantra.
In Ryanair’s case the mantra and core value message is obvious: ‘The low fares airline’.
2. Key additional value proposition messages.
Again, in Ryanair’s case, we see messages such as ‘Most on-time flights’, ‘Industry-leading safety record’ and ‘Europe’s favourite airline’.
3. Evidence and substantiation of each of the value messages.
This includes facts, proof points, customer statements and statistics which substantiate the message. Here are a couple of facts that Ryanair uses to support its value proposition:
“Ryanair carries 119m p.a. on more than 1,800 daily flights from 86 bases, connecting over 200 destinations in 33 countries on a fleet of over 360 Boeing 737.”
“Ryanair has a team of more than 11,500 highly skilled aviation professionals delivering Europe’s No.1 on-time performance, and an industry leading 31 year safety record.”
Comit’s secret sauce
We have built a unique model for simplifying the messaging platform in an easy-to-use one-page format. It has been successfully deployed by many of our clients to transform their communications and brand awareness. They use their message platform to turn every one of their team into marketers. The platform describes the benefit they provide and how they are uniquely positioned to provide this benefit.
We run a workshop - and sometimes customer interviews - which pose critical questions to reveal:
What underpins a customer's choice? Only by understanding customer motivations can you know what message your brand should deliver.
The company’s unique model, strategic advantage and focus.
Some of the questions we ask include:
What are the different customer needs you serve?
How do you expect your solution set to change?
What is unique about your business model?
What existing alternative solutions does your customer have?
What do your customers really buy when they buy from you?
If your company were to cease to exist tomorrow would the world be worse off and why?
We develop – and sometimes test – a mantra and core value proposition messages.
We substantiate these with facts, proof points and evidence in a single one page messaging platform.
Creating a mantra – Apple’s ‘Think different’
The most powerful and essential element of your messaging platform is your mantra. This is the essence of your company strategy, mission and customer value. It should express what you care about and how you make the world a better place. A successful mantra will draw customers and employees to you in their droves, as Apple did with “Think different”.
Just read this Apple press release announcing the new Apple Park to see how they capture that ‘Think different’ message relentlessly. The press release contains phrases which express this mantra in many ways: “a centre for creativity and collaboration,” “the home of innovation,” “exhilarated, and inspired,” “open environment for people to create, collaborate and work together” and “Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.”
Apple has not always led with “Think different.” “Keep things simple” was its mantra in its earlier days. Think of how this principle has guided its strategy and communications. There are so many examples of how Apple has applied this right through its business:
Minimalist packaging design
Very clear language
Products that work easily and reliably
Less product options: The first Apple iPhone was launched against a vast array of Nokia phones designed for every possible market segment
This message still echoes through the business as is evident from marketing that produces ads like this one promoting a simple life on iPhone.
The power of this consistent and aligned messaging is Apple’s ability get raving fans* to queue-up for hours to be first to get their hands on a new product, and to persuade a new phone buyer to ignore logic and purchase an iPhone anyway.
*Note that I used the word ‘fans’ not ‘customers’.
Using a messaging platform
Messaging platforms provide a basis for talking about one’s company, products or solutions. People use messaging platforms to build their ads, website copy, email marketing, social media messaging and even impact on your team’s conversations with customers and stakeholders – and we are not just talking about your PR agency and representatives. They are a great aid when attending a media interview too.
Messaging platforms also provide a ready source of content to call from when people are writing any copy, ranging from press releases and email newsletters, to websites and even slides for a presentation. They allow marketers, PR agencies and sales people to cut the time needed to create powerful and on-message content that ultimately adds value to the business and brand. Some clients have spent months trying to come up with an elevator pitch, but once they turn to us to create the messaging platform, it emerges very quickly.
The end result is a company strategy that is completely aligned with its communications. In a competitive, cluttered marketplace, you can succeed in spades by building distinction, authenticity and trust. The messaging platform is the ultimate tool to achieve this.
If you would like our help creating your own very powerful messaging platform, contact us today.