A Checklist: Benson Marketing Group’s Brand Messaging Plan

One of the most common pitfalls in marketing is to focus on tactics without first defining your strategic goals and messaging. Defining and documenting your messaging provides a compass for all sales and marketing tactics. Best of all, you can do this for free.

Born from years of working with wine and spirits brands of all shapes and sizes, we’ve developed a checklist of exercises that will help lay the foundation of your own Brand Messaging Plan.

The first step is to gather together key decision makers in each functional area (ownership, winemaking, DTC, etc.) and schedule a 4-hour brainstorm meeting. Identify a moderator or two who will lead the discussion, preferably in an offsite location equipped with a large whiteboard and free from interruptions by calls or emails. We also recommend designating one person to take notes.

Here’s the checklist of exercises, in the order in which we think they are best discussed:

  1. SWOT: The basic SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis is a great way to get people to start talking.
  2. Purpose Statement: If money were no object, why would your company still exist? Why would your team want to continue working for you?
  3. Envisioned Future: Pretend it’s 10 years in the future. What were the key milestones that defined your success? Eg, reaching 10,000 cases or being on the list at the French Laundry. (This is less intimidating than asking, “what are our goals?” and you’ll get more insightful responses.)
  4. Brand Essence Wheel: Identify your brand’s essence.brand-essence
  • Values: What concepts are important to and represented by your brand?
  • Personality: What is the core disposition of your brand?
  • Properties: What are the physical attributes and assets of your brand?
  • Essence: After identifying your values, personality and properties, distill these down into the 3-4 basic, inherent qualities of your brand. These become the main concepts that are communicated consistently and repeatedly throughout your sales and marketing actions.
  1. Key Brand Benefit: Identify WHY consumers should buy your wine: “Consumers purchase our brand because it (fill in with solution), and it makes them feel (emotional response).” If you have trouble coming up with this sentence, try this working through these three steps:
  • Capture your brand’s most important attribute in one sentence
  • Provide 3-4 verifiable supporting points
  • Summarize in one sentence why a consumer/trade buyer will care
  1. Positioning Statement: Complete the sentence:“For (target audience), our brand is (differentiated, sustainable position).”
  2. Elevator Pitch: Describe your brand to a stranger in 10 seconds. During the brainstorm, develop this sentence together.

After four hours, stop. These meetings can be tiring for everyone.

Over the next few weeks, synthesize the notes and results of the brainstorm and return with the same group to review, refine and complete the document. You’ll arrive at group consensus on what messages you should – and shouldn’t – use and why. Then, armed with your Brand Messaging Plan, you can get down to the nitty gritty tactical details of creating a PR plan, advertising, email marketing, social media, trade promotions and more.

The process is relatively easy and fun, plus you’ll get the team on the same page and have clear direction on the right tactics to pursue.

This Checklist was adapted from a presentation delivered by Jeremy Benson the UC Davis Wine Executive Program, March 25, 2015.

Looking for help refining your brand strategy? Our team is here to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.