Your core message is what your message really says – underneath all the slogans, hyperboles and corporate-speak. It’s what people really remember.
For example, let’s take a look at banking. HSBC’s message is simple: they’re the bank you use if you’re a global citizen. They’re “the world’s local bank.” Simple and easy to remember. Everything they do is designed to make international banking easy.
Contrast that with Bank of America’s “bank of opportunity” slogan. What does that actually mean? How does that translate to a benefit to the end user? Is it actually a real promise of opportunity? Or is it just a slogan? It’s much harder to tell.
Your core message should have a snap to it. People in your target market who hear your message should feel excited. There should be no confusion. Your message has to actually stand for something, rather than just sound nice.
==> Price Is Not a Message
Your price should not be your message, unless it’s also your brand.
Southwest Airlines’ price is their brand. They’re the cheap local airline. For them, this is actually their core message.
The same can be said for Wal-Mart. They’re where you go when you want to shop for cheap items. Price is their brand.
However, if price is not your brand, you should absolutely avoid using price as your message.
Virgin Airways doesn’t try to compete with Southwest on price. They just don’t have the infrastructure for it. Instead, they compete on service.
The local corner market across from Wal-Mart can’t possibly compete on price. Instead, they have to compete on something else. For example, a market dedicated to Indian foods and spices.
Use price as your message only if it’s also your core brand. Otherwise, pick a different message.
==> It Should Carry a Promise
Your message should carry a motivating promise. Domino’s Pizza’s was “Hot pizza to your door in 30 minutes or it’s free.” It solves a need, makes a promise and is inherently motivating.
A slogan that just sounds nice doesn’t actually carry a promise. On the other hand, a real core message does.
==> Avoid “Me Too” Messages
Has your message been said and done before? If so, avoid it at all costs.
For an illustration of this point, look at the online dating market. Match.com was the first generic online dating site and was very successful. Ever since, dozens of generic online dating sites have tried to launch and most have failed.
EHarmony and JDate both succeeded by using very unique messages. EHarmony offered matching services using a very complex personality testing algorithm. JDate catered to the Jewish only.
Two free online dating sites also succeeded, with the unique message of “free.” Apart from these sites, very few have stuck, because they were all “me too” messages.
Is your core message inherently motivating? If it’s not, it may be time to revisit what your company brings to the table.