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The Difference Between Copywriting & Brand Messaging

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You’ve most likely heard these terms before — even if you don’t necessarily know the difference. What’s interesting is that they are both uniquely different, but still related to each other. And if you want to stand out online with your marketing message you must have both.

So let’s break down the core differences between the two and ultimately, how they work together to grow your business.

Copywriting & Brand Messaging Side by Side

In simple terms — your brand messaging is what connects, your copywriting is what converts. Or if you’ve seen my website home page: 

Copywriting is the “what you say” while brand messaging is the “how you say it”. 

Now for sake of example before I dive into each separately, let me show you what this looks like in action. Take a look at this sentence:

“Marketing your business is hard, but it will help your business grow.”

Simple enough right? This is the core message, in other words — the copy. 

Now let’s look at it portrayed in different brand voices: 

  • Nurturing Brand Voice: I know marketing your business can feel challenging but don’t give up. Your message deserves to be told. It’s how your business will grow and reach even more people. 
  • Playful Brand Voice: Marketing your business makes you want to pull your hair out, huh? Truuust me I get it. But what if there was a way to make it easy (and keep all the beautiful hair on your head)? 
  • Authoritative Brand Voice: Listen, marketing your business is not easy. But nothing of worth is ever easy, is it? The sooner you master marketing, the sooner your business will grow. 

Woah — writing each of these from different brand voices gave me an out-of-body experience. They probably felt vastly different as you read them too.

See how they are all saying the same thing — marketing your business is hard, but it will help your business grow — but all in different ways? 

That’s exactly how both work together, seamlessly.

You now have an idea of how they work together — so how do you approach each individually? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A Deeper Look Into Brand Messaging

As I mentioned before, your brand message is what connects. That’s why it has to come first when creating your message. 

Yes I know, there’s a lot of hype around converting copy, but remember the sentence you read earlier: 

“Marketing is your business is hard, but it will help grow your business”

The statement is true. But it lacks a sort of…human element. It comes across bland and honestly, a little cold. 

Would this statement capture your attention as is, if you read it in a headline? Probably not. I could spend an entire blog post on how to develop brand messaging (and I definitely will!) but in the meantime, here’s are key components to keep in mind:

Brand Messaging is created by your unique positioning, core values, and brand mission

Unlike what most marketers say, being a little selfish (at first) will actually clarify your message. Before you take this the wrong way, I want to set a few things straight: 

Your goal is to start with empathy and serve your people really well. Because if you’re like me, you LOVE your clients and want nothing less than their success. 

That being said, your brand is 99.9% almost ALWAYS a direct extension of who you are. Even if you lead a faceless brand or large organization. So if you aren’t sure why your brand exists, how do you expect to show up with a message that will deeply resonate with your audience? 

When you take the time to figure out who you are and what you want your brand to stand for, you’ll creating your message becomes effortless.

Brand Messaging is showcased by language and perspectives your ideal audience resonates with

Great, now you’ve nailed your brand’s vision. Now it’s time to tell everyone else about it! 

Remember: connection always comes first. And how do we connect with our audience? By speaking their language. 

When your audience interacts with your brand or on their own platforms, what type of language do they use? Is it language that is…

  • Dreamy
  • Playful
  • Witty
  • Bold
  • Authoritative
  • Cool
  • Nurturing
  • Thoughtful 

This list goes on and on, but I’ll throw you a hint your way in case you’re stumped. You and your audience most likely speak the same language. 

Are you a naturally laid-back and thoughtful communicator? Your ideal audience most likely is too. 

Are you a quirky-cool, witty communicator that likes to keep things upbeat and fun? Your audience most likely is too. (I think you’ve captured the pattern by now.) 

Once you understand the language of your audience, you simply speak it back to them. 

Of course, you always have clients and audience members who are a bit different than you, and that’s ok. 

However, the more authentic you are in your communication, the more likely you’ll attract the right people.

A Deeper Look Into Copywriting

This is where the rubber meets the road. Once you have your Brand Messaging nailed down, it’s time to pair it with strategic copy. 

In case you aren’t familiar with copywriting (hi, hello, what I do for a living) I’ll break it down in simple terms — I really like Copyblogger’s definition

“Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.”

Copyblogger

Copywriting is both an art and a science. It uses proven strategies and tactics to prompt action, while also keeping humanity and empathy in mind. This quote always makes me giggle, but drives the point home when we write anything for our audience by David Ogilvy: 

“Your customer is not a moron. She’s your wife”

David Ogilvy

Oof. Did that hit you too? Yes, we can use proven strategies but we always have to remember the human at the other side of the screen. 

Copywriting, like brand messaging, is its own category of complex ideas I can’t fit into one blog post. Instead, let’s look at it from these two perspectives for now:

Copywriting is created by sales and psychology-driven messaging strategies

‘Tis true. There are certain formulas proven time and time again, to prompt humans to take action. 

Although we are vastly different, humans are all wired in the same way. We want to: 

  • Avoid pain
  • Seek pleasure
  • Look out for #1 (ourselves)

Over time, there have been formulas that have helped marketers and communicators, time and time again, capture people’s attention based on the simple principles I just listed. I’ll share a few you’ve probably seen in action without even realizing it: 

P – A – S

First, you identify a problem

Then you agitate the problem 

And finally, you close with a solution (aka – you) 

This is the grandaddy of copywriting formulas. The old good and faithful. You’ll see it ev-er-y-where even if you aren’t paying attention. For example:  

“Stumped on writing a blog post [problem]? Don’t let writer’s block rue the day and keep your message on the shelf [agitate]. Check out this list of blog post ideas to get you started [solution].” 

A – I – D – A

Another simple, compelling formula, especially great for website pages. 

First, you grab attention in a startling way. Next, you pique their interest to keep reading further. Then you tap into their desires to capture their heart. And you close by calling them to take action

Here’s an example I wrote for a client: 

“When you’re ambitious, uncertainty is inevitable [attention]

Whether it be [interest]

  • Launching new products or businesses
  • Leading a team or project
  • Trying new marketing strategies
  • Pursuing a company goal or job opportunity
  • Or pivoting in your business or career

Your ambition will always lead to unchartered territory. 

As professionals and business leaders, the ability to achieve our goals [desire] is predicated on the way we handle uncertainty.”

 

And the page goes on to say more…but the final call to action is getting someone to book for speaking [action]

The 4 C’s

The premise is simple: 

  • Be clear
  • Be concise
  • Make it compelling
  • Prove it’s credible

Again, it can apply to a web page, a blog, or even a social media post: 

“Write better, faster, and finally get your message out there. Even if it’s a blog about scuba diving adventures in Europe. Check out the internet’s most popular writing tool”

This barely scratches the surface, but you should see by now how many formulas are in a copywriter’s back pocket at all times (and can be in yours too!)

Copywriting is showcased by market research to map out audience-specific pain points, objections, & desires

We’ve got a few formulas in our back pocket. Now it’s time to plug and play, ad-libs style, and fill them in with our unique audience situation. 

We don’t want to assume we know what our audience wants. Instead, we simply ask them. 

Nothing says empathy more than giving our audience a chance to share what they are going through, right? 

In my web copy process, I conduct 15-minute market research calls with my client’s clients to understand their perspectives but there are plenty of other ways you can collect this know-how:

  • Surveys
  • Facebook Groups
  • Social media mining
  • Directories/surveys
  • Past inquiries
  • Testimonials
  • And more

Sounds a bit stalkerish, yes, and it does take a bit of time. The insight you gain though is beyond priceless and worth the effort. 

The Takeaway?

You need both — copywriting and brand messaging. It’s like a buttery chicken sandwich. Sure, you can have just a chicken patty. Or just bread (granted, a bit more of an odd request).  

But that takes away the deliciousness and the power of both together, doesn’t it? 

If you’re interested in what my process looks like to develop this strategy for your website, check out my web offerings here or book an intro call to get the conversation going. 

Can’t wait to connect soon!

-Kat