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Jul 20, 2023 | 6 min read

Striking the Right Balance Between Aspirational and Functional Messaging


A successful messaging strategy involves conveying the perfect blend of aspirational and functional values. Here’s how to deliver that perfect balance to your target audience.

Your brand platform has two essential parts: the functional element, which describes your competitive advantage, and the aspirational element, which highlights the emotional rewards you offer. While it’s important to utilize both types to attract your ideal clients, striking a balance between the two in your messaging strategy can be a little tricky.

All too often, companies only talk about themselves from a functional lens. Internal discussions about product features and new capabilities in the roadmap make their way into the marketing of the product itself. And to an extent, this makes sense; this type of messaging encompasses the practical and helps consumers understand the brand’s functional value. For example, if you’re a grocery store brand, you’ll want to promote your fresh produce or affordable prices. But while those things are great, it’s also critical that you ask yourself: what emotional value do you offer your shopper?

Enter aspirational (or emotional) messaging, which helps drive your products into the hearts of your consumers by appealing to their feelings, goals, or desires. But, if your brand leans too heavily on promoting these intangibles, such as how your products can help customers achieve their dreams, you’ll still miss the mark because no one knows what you sell or why you’re selling it.

So how do you strike the perfect balance?

In a modern world where consumers are spoiled for choice — from shampoo brands to types of cars — nailing this balance between aspirational and functional messaging is critical in setting yourself apart from the competition and maximizing your reach. Here are five tips for leveraging both methods in your messaging strategy:

  1. Prioritize customer value over product or service descriptions
    Whatever it is that you’re offering, you want to provide something that customers will enjoy and come back to use or buy again and again. A great way to achieve this is by leaning into the value that product or service will bring into your customers’ lives.

    Focus on what the (positive) outcome will be if consumers opt for your brand instead of your competitor’s. By tapping into what motivates them to seek a product or service in the first place, you can tailor your product messaging around those needs and fill them. Put simply, engaging with your brand should be an experience for customers, not an encyclopedic experience that forces them to sift through an exhaustive list of features.
  2. Understand your audience
    You can’t reach your customers if you don’t know who they are. But you can gain insights into your current customer base (and target audience) by creating a buyer persona.

    A buyer persona is a detailed description that represents your target audience. While the persona is fictional, it’s based on deep research of your existing or desired audience. This helpful tool allows you to hone in on demographics, consumer behavior, location, and pain points — allowing you and your product or service to step in and address their needs directly.
  3. Know the right tone
    Once you understand your audience, you can begin crafting messaging to reach them effectively. While you won’t want to overdo the casual approach, you should also avoid using too much industry jargon. Overly technical language will go over your customers’ heads, and they’ll likely disengage from your message. Instead, try incorporating some witty references and other language that makes your brand feel like a knowledgeable friend.

    Whatever tone you decide to take, make sure it’s consistent throughout your marketing materials. Inconsistent messaging will only confuse consumers and undermine their trust in your brand.
  4. Make real, measurable claims
    Making real, measurable claims increases your brand’s credibility while helping you avoid risky regulatory issues. Measurable claims satisfy the deal-seeking part of a customer’s brain by proving that your products or services work. So, when incorporating these claims into your messaging, consider including specific data and testimonials.
  5. Complement content with UI/UX
    Finally, don’t compete against yourself. Every piece of content you produce, whether it’s a landing page or a blog post, should reflect your brand’s value proposition and visual identity. Not only will everything on your website lead back to those company values and product benefits you’re trying to advertise, but the alignment between your content and user interface will also give customers a positive perception, thus increasing their trust in your brand and the likelihood to utilize your services.

    Also, don’t forget to add relevant calls to action to drive conversions and guide customers on their buying journeys.

We can help you get started

Striking the right balance between aspirational and functional messaging can be challenging as you find what works best for your brand. However, working with an experienced team like Thunderfoot throughout the process can help you drive successful outcomes faster.

Our knowledgeable team of designers, content creators, and digital marketers can assist every step of the way. See our recent work for a web3 startup that involved optimizing its visual identity and key messaging to expand brand awareness and reach. Partnering with us means preserving what you love about your brand’s personality and elevating it, often in ways that exceed your expectations.

Learn more about our work.

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