Why You Need Brand Messaging Before Copywriting | Website Copywriting - The Literary Co

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A copywriter and strategist helping you book more clients through the power of your words.


Four years ago, with a master’s in English Literature in hand and a handful of magazine clips in my portfolio, I turned down a PhD program and set out to be a freelance writer instead. 

Little did I know I’d start a six-figure copywriting business and work with some of the top creative entrepreneurs in the business. Over 100+ clients later, I can confidently say that starting a creative business was the best decision I ever made. 

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I'm Kayla

Why You Need Brand Messaging Before Copywriting

Welcome to the second episode of the Brand Book Podcast! This time, we’re going to be chatting about what it means to have brand messaging in place and how you can create your strategy. Before we dive into the topic, we should first define a couple of things:

Brand personality:

It’s the tone, words, phrases, and point of view you use to talk to your clients. You could be visionary, sassy, bold, refined, sweet, relatable, …. You get the point! Basically, there are ways that you’d say things or approach ideas, and ways that you would never talk about it within your own brand. This is pretty much what we mean when we talk about something being on brand or off brand.

For example, Frank Body, an Australian skincare brand selling coffee scrubs, is pretty famous for its in-your-face personality. To give you an idea of their brand personality, here’s a bit of their about page: 

Five years ago in a coffee shop, five friends had a drink and an idea: a humble coffee scrub. Their mission was to remove the hyperbole that saturates the skincare industry and make natural skincare fun. So they called me frank and I’ve been getting babes dirty ever since. That simple, that good.”

To give you a little more on how that works, their email opt-in on their homepage right now reads “Pants off. 10% off your first purchase.” I mean, that’s going to offend someone! But it works for them because their client base finds it hilarious and they love to buy the product because of it.

We’re going to talk about this one more on future podcast episodes but this should do for now. 

Another thing we should define is:

Brand messaging

The heart, meaning, and mission behind your brand; the core concepts driving it and principles; your clearly established ideal client; how you talk about your business with others; your guiding compass when writing anything related to your brand. That’s what’s behind the inspiration of this podcast, the Brand Book that we create for clients so they can confidently know their brand voice. 

This is a HUGE step to take in your business, whether you’re a newer business owner looking to establish that voice as you’re using it for the very first time, or an established business owner revamping their brand or hiring on new team members who need to know the heart, vision, mission behind the brand. Big brands have these to tell their stories… so why shouldn’t yours?! 

But the question I hear a lot is WHY DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED THIS? CAN’T WE JUST DIVE INTO COPYWRITING? Sure, if you want your copywriter to just be guessing what to say the whole time! If you’ve never done brand messaging for your business, even if you have an existing website or some kind of copy on hand, it’s not a great idea to just dive into copywriting without intent. 

So here’s why you should start with brand messaging FIRST:

Reason #1: Copywriting drives design. 

You’ve probably heard this one before but weren’t quite sure what it meant. Copywriting needs to come before design because, especially if you’re going custom, your designer won’t want to design around demo text.

For example, you might end up with too much or too little copy and then you’re writing and dreaming up stuff just to fill in the spaces of that placeholder text. At the end, you’ll have a message but it won’t be tailored to your unique needs. Your website needs to employ good conversion principles, and this truly starts in the copywriting phase.

A copywriter’s job is to create an amazing brand story for you and then communicate it through your website & other materials. Copy drives the structure and framework of your site. It’s integrated with design and the user experience people have on the page.

So why am I talking about copywriting? Where the heck does brand messaging come in? It comes in because if you can’t have great design without great copy, you can’t have great copy without great brand messaging.

Think of it this way: wouldn’t it be so much easier to write your website if you know your mission, your vision, your values, and had them clearly articulated? Wouldn’t it be so much better to have a one-liner you’re actually proud of and can use anywhere when you’re talking about your business? Wouldn’t it be sweet to know your brand story and have a list of on-brand words and phrases to use throughout so you know you’re totally consistent when you’re writing and you’re not completely guessing what to say?

That’s exactly why you want brand messaging first!

Reason #2: Brand messaging helps you excavate why you’re different and articulate to your ideal client the reason they should choose you over someone else.

If you don’t know your offer, believe your message, and have a great grasp on why you’re different, you’re going to struggle to write anything. It’s just that simple. When you don’t have these things it’s completely impossible to write for your business. Sometimes it’s hard to see this as an unbiased observer. Is it your focus? Your experience? How do you approach your process differently? What are you seeing in your industry that isn’t working for you? How do you address that in a unique way?

But don’t worry! You can definitely make it happen. You can go about this by first surveying prospective, current, and past clients and examining testimonials you already have to see what people say about working with you. But there’s also another great approach:

The Storybrand Framework (originally from the book Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller– he has a great podcast and website if you’re interested)  is an excellent process to follow, and it details how you help a character who has a problem who meets a guide who leads them towards success. It’s all about the transformation you give your prospects. So your ideal client, or character, is the hero of the story, NOT YOU. 

I’d highly recommend it to anyone. BUT something to keep in mind with this one is that the book is NOT meant to be an exact roadmap to writing your website copy– it’s A LOT more focused on how you actually tell that brand story and then carry it out consistently.

Reason #3: You want your copywriting to extend across platforms. This is harder to do if you don’t have a brand messaging guide.

Something that’s really important to think about with copywriting is how your website words will extend to your Instagram, your email list, your blog or podcast, your lead magnets, your ads, etc. It’s much harder to repurpose content if you just have copywriting written for your site but it’s completely out of context and not accompanied by voice guidelines that illuminate all these hidden nuances of your brand. 

Sometimes you really do just need a reminder of who you are, what you do, why you’re different, and how you articulate this when you’re writing copy across your business. 

So many clients come to be and they love working on the brand messaging and website copywriting component because it’s a one-time investment that really pays off years into their business. If you’re a business owner you’re probably doing a lot of writing for yourself and having some guidance on what to write. Your brand book makes this possible. Because as cool as it is to have a copywriter to write for you all the time, it’s not always possible. Even if they are, it’s great to work with the same person who developed the voice for your brand and then let them really carry it out across your materials so you have something consistent, cohesive and super sharp no matter what.

To get started with these lessons, I have an exercise for you. It’s my tip for creating a solid brand message when you already have a website and know it’s time for an overhaul. This can also work if you’re new to business and creating a website for the first time.

Here’s a little exercise that can help you determine how you want to sound:

Think about your tone, values, beliefs, and ideal voice. What are those three to four little words describing your brand? (Ours are delightful, creative, personable.) Try to think outside the box on this one! If you’re feeling stuck, checking out some untranslatable words on Pinterest can be super helpful just to get inspired! For more info, feel free to check out our Instagram post for more details!

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issued on

May 15, 2020

Copywriting Education




Together, we're going to ensure your signature offer is well in place and create language around it that SELLS in a way that is authentic, natural, and true to you.


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