Imagine a tree — a content tree. If content represents the branches, message architecture would be the trunk from which the branches grow.

Some call it message framework. Others refer to it as message architecture (my preferred term). It’s the message structure behind all your brand’s content.

The Content Marketing Institute defines it as a collection of communicative — words, terms, phrases, clauses, or statements — arranged into a hierarchy according to a brand’s messaging priorities.

It has three primary purposes:

  1. To infuse brand-specific messaging into every piece of content you (and your staff) create.
  2. To create language that identifies your brand in the collective mind of your audience.
  3. To establish guidelines within your organization to ensure message consistency in all content platforms — social media, blogs, images, videos, podcasts, etc.

How it works

Like most good ideas, various leaders in the content marketing industry developed their own signature message architecture templates. Meghan Casey, Content Strategist and Author of The Content Strategy Toolkit, created a message architecture template using three steps of message flow:

  1. First Impression – what a visitor feels the first time they land on your site.
  2. Value Proposition – what the visitor feels after learning the value you provide.
  3. Proof – the content’s effectiveness in assuring the visitor that your brand will deliver.

Casey focused on the customer, not the organization.

Advanced Marketing Concepts created this template in 2013 which extracts messaging from core documentation including mission and positioning statements:

Brain Traffic Founder Kristina Halvorson is hailed for having birthed the concept of content strategy. Her messaging template starts with defining a primary message — a value proposition statement. From there, secondary messages encapsulate that statement.

As you can see, message architecture can take different forms emphasizing different angles. Depends on what you want to say to your tribe.

It doesn’t matter which template you use as long as you have one

The concept of message architecture is a byproduct of the transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing when people started doing business online. It’s a trend that’s here to stay, which means it’s not just a novel idea anymore. It’s integral to your brand’s content marketing strategy.

Moreover, it’s a vital tool in your marketing chest — whether you’re part of a team or going solo. Without one, your online marketing will be, at best, unfocused. With one, you’re likely to efficiently target your audience while reinforcing brand marketing stability with each piece of content.

Now, that’s worth the trouble, isn’t it?

Need help building your messaging architecture? Shaston Writes can create template that will articulate your value proposition while focusing your brand voice, so it hits the target. Let’s talk!


“Align All Your Messaging With This Simple (& Fun) Tool,” By Marcia Riefer Johnston published Content Marketing Institute, JANUARY 28, 2016,

Casey, Megan. The Content Strategy Toolkit: methods, Guidelines, and templates for Getting Content Right. New Riders, 2015, pgs 143-146

“Your Sales Problem is Not the Problem, It’s Marketing, Admarco, Advanced Marketing Concepts Blog, Mark Gibson, February 5, 2013,

Kristina Halvorson’s “Message and Medium: Better Content by Design” UI15 Session Sample, December 22, 2011