How to Create a Brand Message That Stands the Test of Time

In any industry, fads come and go and consumer tastes change. Yet, despite this turbulence, there are still brands that manage to survive decade after decade. They’re iconic; they’re institutions. You—and millions of others—know them: McDonald’s Golden Arches, Apple’s sleek, modern tech and Ford’s rugged pickup trucks.

But how did those brands manage to persistently remain in the hearts and minds of people year after year?

Obviously, their products have something to do with it, but a quality product is worthless if it doesn’t speak to people. A brand message that stands the test of time is also required to stay relevant—particularly now with ever-changing cultural shifts thanks to the internet.

In fact, the average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 has decreased by more than 50 years according to the BBC. In the 1920s, a company could expect to stick around for 67 years, but by the beginning of this decade, that number was down to 15 years.

Creating something long-lasting that resonates so thoroughly is no simple task, though. We’ll examine what it takes to create a timeless brand message, but first, let’s look at what a brand message actually is.

What is a brand message?

Your brand message conveys your promise and value proposition to your audience. At its core, it tells people who you are. But it should also help people connect with your brand by inspiring, persuading or motivating potential customers to purchase your product or service. Ideally, in some way, this should be present in everything you create.

Often brand messages take the form of what most people would call a slogan or tagline. For example, let’s look at the brands we mentioned earlier:

  • Apple: Think different
  • McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it
  • Ford: Go further

However, your brand message is more than a phrase you can slap on a bumper sticker or flash during a 30-second Youtube ad. Creative Company sums it up nicely by noting that a brand message requires “messaging architecture,” which provides added context to your audience. According to Creative Company, this includes:

  • Brand promise (promise to your target audience)
  • Positioning statement (who you are)
  • Value proposition (what you do/have/offer)
  • Value description (who you work for)
  • Three key ideas/messages (which make you unique)

In the end, you’re trying to convince people why they should trust you with their hard-earned money. It’s not an easy proposition, but we’ll show you how you can start building a strong brand message that will endure.

Creating Something That Will Last

If you’ve perused one of your old yearbooks lately, you know it’s much easier to jump on a passing fad than it is to stay true to yourself. We’re just guessing those frosted tips didn’t work out long term…

Anyway, here are few things you need to think about when creating a brand message that stands the test of time.

Your Values

The best way to steer clear of fads that don’t mesh well with your brand is to remain true to your values and beliefs as an organization. These are the foundations of your brand, including your messaging. Really take the time to consider what values your leadership team consistently points to, how you do business and what you do for your customers.  

PowerPost Core Brand Messages Image

After making those considerations, you should be able to craft a core brand message. It could be as short as two words like Apple’s “think different” or a full sentence. It should be a relatively concise statement that sums up why your brand matters, what it represents and why it’s different. The goal is to communicate your values and uniqueness without presenting people with a novel about your brand’s history.

Your Audience

Beyond your values and beliefs as a business, you must always be relevant to your audience. Who are you talking to? What do they care about and what will connect with them?

The connections you make with people is what will make a difference in the long run. Successful brands are able to evoke memorable, emotional responses from their customers. If you can touch the lives of your customers with your messaging and content, you’ll win their loyalty.

Furthermore, realize that you’re selling them more than an actual tangible product or service. You’re selling the idea or experience of something, as well. A pertinent illustration of this in action is Harley Davidson.

Yes, there are more technically impressive motorcycles on the road nowadays, but people keep coming back to Harley Davidson. Many of the brand’s customers live and breath Harley. What other brand inspires so many people to willing get its logo tattooed?

In a possibly apocryphal story, it’s rumored that one Harley Davidson executive said, “What we sell is the ability for a forty-three-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.”

Regardless of the genesis of this idea, the point is valid. Harley Davidson sells more than a motorcycle. It sells freedom, a slice of Americana and a certain “bad boy” attitude.

Eric Peterson, the marketing manager for Ford’s F-150 pickup truck, said that Ford’s messaging regarding the F-150—a best selling truck for decades—has always been focused on the customer, as well.

He told the American Marketing Association – Minnesota, “The core strategy has always stayed consumer centric but dialed to the tactics to best reach where our audience is—the farm, construction site, hauling a boat to the lake—and what they are watching and/or listening to in the media.”

Never forget, you’re not just writing a blog post or designing an infographic or editing a video. You’re also talking with (not at) your customers and potential customers.


Your content offers the best opportunity to present a consistent brand message to your audience. Unfortunately, it also offers a pretty big opportunity to muddy the waters if you’re not careful. Without consistency, you’re sending mixed signals to people.

PowerPost Brand Message Consistency Image

Your brand message should be an underlying element of everything that comes into contact with your audience. That includes your regular social media posts, owned media, email newsletter, customer service, traditional ads and much, much more.

You should view them as opportunities to reinforce your brand promise and value proposition. They’re all pieces of a bigger puzzle, and if one is wrong, you ruin the whole picture. Nike is an excellent example of a brand that has had systematic consistency over the years.

Sure, the styles of Nike’s shoes and athletic clothing have been updated over the years. However, you know right away when you’re watching one of their commercials. Their ads and social media posts have used motivating, authoritative and powerful calls to action for years. Similarly, the bold, legible sans-serif lettering in their ads is another calling card.

Part of this comes down to very specific language, too. Brands that cultivate lasting messages often rigorously and deliberately use certain words in their content to evoke specific feelings and ideas. For example, BuzzFeed produced a video that compiled all the adjectives Apple used to describe the iPhone.

The most frequently used words were: revolutionary, breakthrough, beautiful, faster, thinner and lighter. They’re exactly the sort of words that reinforce the idea of Apple as a sleek, technologically innovative brand.

Depending on how many people you have working on your team (internal and external), it might be prudent to draft a list of these “keywords.” That way, everyone has a resource to look to during the content creation process to establish consistency.

Gradually, every little piece copy, every image will flesh out your brand’s personality and create a narrative that reflects your brand’s values. If you’re honest with yourself and your audience, they will see why your brand will make a difference in their lives. Trust will build until you cease to be nameless, faceless business and become a friend.

And when you’re a friend, people have a habit of sticking around.

Get ahead of the competition and stay there with a free demo and content consultation from PowerPost!

By | 2019-01-10T19:47:00+00:00 May 23rd, 2018|Articles, Featured|0 Comments

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