Messaging vs. Copy: What’s the Difference?
In the world of marketing and advertising, you hear the words “messaging” and “copy” quite often. But did you know they mean different things?
In a Nutshell
Both messaging and copy aim to convey your company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)—the key differentiators or benefits that set you apart from your competitors—to your current and prospective clients. But your messaging is your foundation—it must come first.
Messaging defines what your brand offers—why it’s valuable to your target audience. It guides the development of your copy. This is the fun part. Copy communicates your messages in a compelling, engaging way that generates response.
Messaging is what you talk about, while copy is how you say it.
In other words, messaging is what you talk about, while copy is how you say it—the words you use to convey the key ideas behind your messaging.
- What do you want people to know after they read what you’ve written? That’s the message.
- What are the best words to convey this message so people will be convinced to purchase from you, call/email, etc.? What words will truly engage and inform them, helping you achieve the desired results? That’s your copy.
Let’s dive deeper…
Brand Messaging: The Foundation
Brand messaging is made up of the key messages that your organization has agreed should be consistently conveyed about your brand by all your communications and marketing/advertising materials. It’s written to guide the development of your copy. Read more about brand messaging here.
You can also write messaging for a specific campaign or event. In this case, you’d take a close look at the business’ brand messaging to ensure alignment. Any campaign, event, or other initiative with its own messaging should be founded in the company’s overall brand messaging. This continuity builds brand credibility and brand recognition for your business.
Copy: The Attention-Grabber
Copy refers to written content (usually in marketing, advertising, or promotions) that aims to persuade a person or group to take a particular action or to increase brand awareness. Businesses use copy to inform target audiences about their products, services, or cause and persuade them to take a specific action, e.g., to make a purchase, subscribe, change behavior, or visit a website.
Copywriting is engaging and piques an audience’s interest. It can be informative, moving, entertaining, funny, alluring, jarring, evocative, inspiring—whatever will draw your target audience in and motivate the desired response. It should always be authentic to the brand—that is, it should align with your brand messaging and your brand voice, tone, and values.
Your copy should be carefully curated based on your intended target audience. What are their needs? What challenges do they have that your produce/service can solve? Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and write in a way that would convince you to take action. (Check out this blog post for tips on writing copy that converts.)
Messaging & Copy in Action
Here are a few side-by-side examples of messaging paired with copy. You’ll see how the messages are foundational points—like commitments the brands have made—while the copy is made up of benefits-oriented words and calls to action to draw attention, clearly convey these messages, and drive response.
Benefits give customers a reason to buy because they explain how your product or service improves their lives.
|Our doctors provide high-quality, patient-based care.||Get the personalized attention and expert care you deserve. Call our office to schedule your one-on-one consultation today.|
|We’re committed to safety.||Protect your staff and customers with our hygiene shields, CDC-approved to help prevent the spread of airborne illnesses in workplace or retail settings.|
|We’re an eco-friendly company that strives to use sustainable products and minimize waste.||Put the planet first—stylishly. Explore our sustainable jewelry and accessories.|
Messaging and copy are inextricably linked, but they are different. Develop your brand messaging—the most important messages you want to share with your target audience. Then use it to guide your copywriting across all platforms. When your carefully crafted copy reaches your target audience with a consistent, authentic message (and an irresistible call to action) each and every time they come in contact with your brand, you’ll start increasing brand recognition—and likely, generate action.