If you don’t create messaging about your company and your products, the market will do it for you. And you probably aren’t going to like the story.

Whether intentionally or not, each of your products, and your company overall, have messages attached to them, messages that are heard by your current clients and prospects. The message may be, “This is an ideal material for construction in hurricane-prone areas” or, “This company always comes up with innovative lighting solutions.”

Alternatively, however, the messaging around your product could be, “I’ve never heard of it, so I don’t trust it.” Even worse: “I’ve heard bad things about defects and durability issues with this product.” Leaving messaging around your brand or products to the marketplace is a dangerous roll of the dice.

Rather, if you expect to become the commercial architectural firm standard, it’s essential for you to develop compelling messages for your offerings. These are statements that define how you want to be perceived and that must be used consistently in both written and oral communications. Well-structured messaging can help you gain trust and preference among architecture firms and can help you overcome and often reverse negative messaging coming from outside sources.

Here’s how.

Create brand messaging around your unique value proposition.

What makes your product different from and superior to that of your competitors? What does or could make your company stand out in the commercial marketplace? What features of your offerings will solve specific problems for architects and designers?

Your unique value proposition, or UVP, is a clear, direct statement of what makes your product—or your company—distinct from all others and supplies the reasons that an architect should choose your product as the standard specification. In short, the UVP communicates what your company offers and why people should consider doing business with you. This is your primary message.

A primary message, furthermore, should be supplemented by a handful of supporting messages that provide more details or “reasons why.”

For example, New York-based W&W Glass, working with Point to Point, developed this primary message: “We change the face of every building.”

That message is complemented by the more detailed supporting message, “We engineer, design, supply and install functional glass solutions that modernize the look, feel and performance of any building facade.”

Then, the company offers half a dozen separate “reasons-why” messages targeting its distinctive features and capabilities, such as, “From project concept to completion, our bottom-up approach brings your vision to life. With unlimited customization, specification accuracy, and validation through testing, we help set your work apart.”

Another W&W Glass reason-why statement is, “Keep projects on time and on budget with unitized glass systems that minimize on-site assembly time, improve quality control, and reduce shipping costs providing the most efficient installation.”

If your company is just now entering the commercial segment, messaging that shows how your organization and its products specifically meet challenges the commercial architect faces will boost your standing among the architects you meet. Additional messaging can illustrate how your product already has served as the standard in segments other than commercial architecture. Such messaging can demonstrate your commitment to innovation and to serving the architectural community in the commercial sector, building trust and confidence in your products.

Your primary message may change, depending on the vertical segment you are addressing.

You should prepare multiple primary messages for different segments that may hire the architectural firm. For example, your textiles and wallcoverings may have durability and high performance characteristics that make them a great option for the hospitality segment where easy cleanability, antibacterial properties and the ability to withstand wear and tear are core requirements for product selection. The same products are also great for the education segment where safety and sustainability often dictate product selection. Here the product benefits focus more on being free from harmful chemicals, wall protection and acoustic benefits.

You should have separate primary messages for each of these segments and should support them with additional messages specific to the interest of the architect designing these buildings. That means it’s important to know which architectural firms create projects that best align with the needs that your product meets. Your product will have the best chance to become the standard for these firms, because they can most easily appreciate the product’s benefits and because these are the firms for which you can most successfully develop effective messaging.

How to find your unique value

Your unique value proposition must differentiate your product from all competitors, but how do you know that it will?  Finding your unique value requires insights that will necessitate some digging.

A strong UVP is a combination of three key discoveries:

An audience insight. What is something that only you know about the audience? What does your customer need and care about?

A brand insight. What is true of your brand? What do you have or what do you do that’s inherently different from everyone else?

A competitor insight. What are your competitors doing well — or not well? What need are you fulfilling that your competitors are not?

You can employ a variety of methods to discover your UVP, but we’ve found that the following approaches may best help you in uncovering and focusing the uniqueness of your brand or product:

Stakeholder interviews: Talk to the people who invented your product, who produce it, and who have in-person contact with your customers. Include executive leadership, sales, marketing and company communicators who tell your brand story.

Competitor audits: Closely examine the products your competitors offer, the messaging they use and  the market niches they are attempting to occupy. Determine a product or service that you’re bringing to the market that your competitors are not.

Customer and market research: Discover what your customers think of your brand and what they see as its unique points. Conduct surveys and solicit and analyze online reviews of  your product. Also, work to gain a perspective on your industry as a whole. Are your customers happy or upset with what’s available in the market? Is your product leading an industry trend—or is it bucking a trend to blaze its own trail?

With these insights you can build a highly compelling UVP that attracts attention and that may sway the market clearly in your direction.

Your story can become a powerful message for gaining acceptance.

Chances are that many of your products originated because an unserved or urgent need for them emerged. For instance, the COVID epidemic spawned improved ventilation systems and better sealing technologies. Violent outcomes of climate change have led to products that meet tougher building standards.

The origin story of your product—the challenge that erupted, the way you confronted that challenge, the speed bumps along the way and the solutions you developed to reach your destination—can help architects understand your innovation process and your dedication to helping satisfy the architectural demands of a project.

Even if your product is simply an evolutionary advancement, rather than a response to a pressing need, recounting what you were hearing from customers, why you chose to take this next step, how you innovated, surprises that occurred in developing your product, and how the product performed to meet the architect’s need can be a story that gains you consideration as the standard for architectural firms.

Knowing compelling storytelling can enable architects to better visualize how they can apply your product and its importance to their own projects.

Use your messaging consistently when you write, when you speak and when you exhibit.

All the marketing materials for your product—your website, brochures, advertising, news releases, sample boxes—should be constructed around your primary messages. Consistency in your messaging is essential if you wish to impress the benefits of your product on architects and designers.

Your imagery selection should also reflect the innovation behind your primary messages and the results obtained by installing your product, while videos and client testimonials can provide greater depth of understanding around your product’s usage and impact.

Your messaging also should be top of mind when you meet with clients and prospects to discuss why your product should be a candidate for the standard specification of the architectural firm. Structure your conversation around the UVP that is most applicable to this particular professional’s need and use supporting messages to provide details.

A great way to test your messaging is to have 1:1 conversations with four or five architecture professionals from your target firms. Present your messaging to them and ask if those messages make the professionals interested in your product, what images your product conjures up for them, what you may have failed to include in the messaging that would help them engage further, what changes they would suggest in wording your messages, and other questions around your product. Show your product and see if it reflects what the group expected it to be. If not, your messages may need tweaking.

Getting voice-of-customer input yields qualitative, rather than quantitative, information that can be immensely valuable in understanding how the target of the messaging perceives it, which may be different from what you intended. They also serve to establish tighter relationships and to promote your product among some of your best prospects.