Our marketing team recently had a pretty big milestone, and it was probably one of the most challenging things that I have worked on in my marketing career. I learned a lot though, so I figured I would share my learning with our readers!
So – now that I have your attention, you might be wondering, what IS this big milestone? Well – we finally did a full company roll out of our Unique Selling Proposition! Our marketing team worked on these for a pretty long time, and it was a real relief to have them finished. I want to give you some tips on how to go through this process, but first, a brief explanation of USP’s and branding:
A brand is how people perceive your company. It is made up of a number of things, and there is definitely a science behind really successful brands. When you think of a company, let’s take Apple for example, you might think it’s a premium brand, maybe you would even say that Apple makes the best smartphone that money can buy. Or, maybe you identify more with the brand attributes of Google Android, and think that Android is technologically superior to iPhone. If you are asked why you think that – you may not even be able to explain why. That is a clever, successful brand at work.
There are many pieces to a brand. The below graphic is an oversimplified visualization of branding, but in general, a brand is made up of a company logo, personality, messaging, and unique selling proposition. There are other things, a tagline, for instance, but really that falls under messaging anyway.
A unique selling proposition, or USP, is how a company distinguishes itself in comparison to the competition; in other words its distinctive value. In our world of marketing, we created one line impactful sentences that emphasize our unique value we provide clients. So now that you know what it is, how can you begin developing one for your company?
There are probably multiple ways to go about finding your brand, but here is one method we found works well. Start by answering these questions:
1. Who is your target market?
2. What is the description of the target?
3. What are key demographics of your target?
4. How do they benefit from your product/service? What problem are you solving?
5. How does your target know about you?
6. Who is your competition?
7. What is your SWOT? (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)
Now, a little disclaimer here. These questions seem really easy to answer, until you actually try to answer them. It will take you some time to work through them, but that is actually a good thing. These are really important answers, and will help shape your company message.
Once you have some answers to those questions, take them to some key stakeholders in the company. By stakeholders, I mean those members of the company that really have a stake in the perception of your brand. This might be the Marketing Director, CMO, CEO, CIO, or if you are an entrepreneur – it will be you! You are essentially giving those stakeholders something to argue with, so be prepared to be flexible about the feedback you may receive. Now is not the time to be sensitive about what you wrote.
Crafting the Sentence
Once you have some key questions answered, you are ready to boil those down into a one or two sentence impact statement. This isn’t the same as a tagline, but your tagline may include some elements of your USP.
Your USP should say concisely what it is your provide clients. It could also include for whom you provide this product or service for, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be in the USP. But the USP should speak to the target audience. Our client support USP, for example, is: We Solve Problems that Keep CIO’s Up at Night. So we explain what we do, and for who. It’s impactful, and might just get your attention.
Again – there are more parts to making your brand, and USP’s are just one step. As I mentioned before, this is hard work. But it is an incredibly important piece of your overall brand and putting in the work now will pay off eventually, when potential clients see you the way you want them to see you! We have a great team of marketing branding gurus, and we can help, so contact us if you want assistance with any part of your branding strategy.