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Part 2. Message Hierarchy: getting your points in the right order!

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

Brand Strategy. The key to getting your messaging in the right order!

To make sure the point of your brand is crystal clear you need to tell your customers how you can solve their problem — what makes you relevant — and what makes you different from all the other brands claiming to do the same. I covered this in the first of our series on key messaging, which you can find here.

In this second blog, I’m going to show you how to put together a key message hierarchy, which is simply a way of you deciding what are the most important things you want to communicate and in what order you want to communicate them.

It’s one of the most practical applications of a brand strategy because it gives your team and your agencies a clear direction about what’s important to communicate about your brand.

The messages that make up the hierarchy will include a mix of benefits and features. The customer experiences the benefit of your brand when they use it to solve their problem. The brand’s features are the way the problem is solved, they are not in themselves the benefit. You can see the two play different roles and it’s important to lead with the benefits because that makes your brand relevant to customers.

OK, so let’s look at how we can build a messaging hierarchy.

1. First start with the features

OK, this is counterintuitive because when you are communicating messaging you need to start with the benefits, not the features. BUT this is about building not communicating the messaging and in my experience, it’s an easier place to start.

So, list out the different aspects of what your brand delivers, how it provides value, its functionality, and features. Once done you should have a list of around 5 and it’s worth trying to bullet point them so they are easy to read and work with. Now we are ready for the next step.

2. Then define the benefits of those features

Now ask yourself, what is the point of this feature, what does it mean for the customer, why should they care, what is the benefit this feature delivers?

Once done, you should be able to assign every one of your feature bullet points with a benefit bullet point.

3. Once done, place in order of importance

OK, now take those bullet points and do the following:

  1. Swap them over so that each bullet point starts with the benefit and follows with the feature - in effect you get this benefit because of this feature.

  2. Put the 5 bullet points into an order of importance to the customer (not you). Ask yourself if you were to write a sales deck what would be on the first chart? Or, if you were to rewrite the website homepage, what would be the first message? What would follow the message?

  3. Now take each one and spend some time editing each bullet point into a sentence that the customer will understand (no jargon) and then if you feel creative, write a headline for it!

So, there it is. Key message hierarchy. It’s not a nice to have or an optional extra, it’s the lifeblood of your brand because it enables you to communicate the important things about your brand and do it in the right order.

If you missed the first blog in the series you can read it here, or why not come along to one of my free taster workshops or grab copy of my book here.

I regularly speak at conferences, business schools and facilitate workshops on the subject of brand strategy. I’m also the author of the award-winning bookWhat’s Your Point?’ which can be purchased from Amazon.

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