The Unique Selling Proposition, or “USP,” is a marketing proposition that originated in the early 1940’s at the Ted Bates advertising agency, some 20 years before what’s depicted on Mad Men. The USP originator was advertising pioneer, author, and agency VP, Rosser Reeves. USP got picked up by agencies all over the world, and quickly became a pretty ubiquitous concept, although the actual use of the term has faded somewhat into advertising history.
Great concept if the choice is between you and one other competitor. That’s right. The notion of USP can be traced back to a time when “commodity” was not part of the marketing lexicon. Consumers weren’t faced with the dizzying array of choices they now face when they hit the supermarket aisle, the electronics retailer or any other overcrowded display of any number of products in any number of industries.
The current “sea of sameness” did not exist when the choice was only vinegar or oil, ITV or BBC. As a result of same sounding claims from same sounding brands consumers are paralyzed when it comes to making decisions between products that, on the surface, all look like reasonable choices.
The birth of UVP.
To truly stand out of the crowd today, your brand must stand for something meaningful—meaningful to the lives of consumers who now demand more than feature-filled products. Consumers who reach out to brands that share their values. The point is this—product attributes, no matter how compelling, cannot build a relationship with today’s consumer. The most powerful method of building a lasting bond between brand and consumer is to discover and communicate your brand’s Unique Values Proposition. Not a focus on what you make but rather a focus on what you believe.
Your brand’s UVP is not only the most compelling way to communicate the “true” difference between you and the host of competitors vying for attention in your category, it also serves as a powerful rallying cry inside your company bringing a greater sense of purpose to your employees and attracting future talent.
Potential employees are increasingly looking for a connection with the organisation's purpose - a set of beliefs that are visible and lived that they can rally behind. What truly sets your brand apart? If the answer is “great colleagues” success will continue to be illusive. If the answer centers around your UVP you’re on your way to building a more sustainable and differentiated employer brand.