What is a message map?

A message map is a highly effective, one-page communications tool that ensures every employee – from senior management to front-line staff – is talking about your company and its brand the same way, every time, when they are dealing with the media, potential clients, the general public, and other audiences important to your organization.

This graphic representation of your key messages is used to ensure all central points are touched upon consistently during speaking engagements and one-on-one meetings. It is particularly useful during media interviews. Journalists often have their own agendas, but with a message map in front of you, you can easily pull the conversation back to the topics you want to focus on.

What does a message map look like?

At the center of the message map is your central message, a concise statement that is generally 21 words or less. We like to call it your “elevator speech.” This message captures the essence of your company’s brand in a nutshell. It should be easy to remember and the meaning should be very clear.

Branching off from that central message are secondary messages, pulled directly from the central message and connected to it like spokes on a bicycle wheel. Underneath each secondary message are related statements, generally fact- and figure-based, that support the validity of your key messages. Take a look at the message map example we’ve included to get a better idea of what this looks like.

The end result is an easy-to-follow “map” of what your company does, communicated in a way everyone will believe and understand.

How does the message mapping process work?

We conduct an intensive brainstorming session with you to determine what points needs to be incorporated into your message map and how that information should be conveyed. Materials that are helpful to bring with you to your message mapping session are your mission and vision statements, background information on your company, economic impact data, a list of awards and accolades – any documentation that will help us tell your story in a way that will resonate strongly with your target audiences.

As the first step, we help you develop an XYZ statement. An XYZ statement is the equation “We do X for Y, so they can Z.” An example would be: Zack’s Boots creates quality footwear (X) so the whole family (Y) can enjoy the outdoors, rain or shine (Z). Through this exercise, we help you define what you do, who you do it for, and the need it fulfills. This serves as the basis of your central message or “elevator speech.”

Once the XYZ statement is determined, we work with you to outline the other supporting points that are the most important to share with your target audiences. For example, what makes you stand out from the competition? Why should a consumer choose your product or service over another? Why should a funder support your cause? These points will flesh out the secondary messages in your message map.

Once the groundwork is done, we set to work crafting the first draft of your message map. Throughout the review process, we listen carefully to your feedback and make adjustments as needed until you are completely satisfied.

GIF of a Message Map Infographic

Why Marshall Communications?

Marshall Communications has developed message maps for dozens of different industries. Our strategic messaging expertise has helped our clients build stronger brands and establish goodwill and trust with the news media.

We are also available to train you and your key staff on how to use the message map to maximize opportunities for media coverage and to take control of adversarial media interview situations. Through our guidance and leadership, businesses and nonprofits alike have been able to improve their brand perception through the media and mitigate or eliminate potential crises or controversies.

We look forward to introducing you to our unique message mapping process and using it as the first step in building a stronger loyal following for your brand.