Recent decades have brought about a significant shift in power from brands to consumers.

Gen Z and Millennials now have immense buying power. This means the pressure is on brands to lean heavily into what makes them different: their Unique Selling Point (USP). 

media update's Jóreke Kleynhans gives you the run-down on the USP and why you need it if you want to beat the crowd.

What a USP is

A USP is a well-stated summary of a brand's product or service that differs from the rest of the market. You get bonus points if the message can be brought across in just a few words.

It is based on what matters to your audience. A luxury brand's pricing will not matter to its target audience, but its client support policies most certainly will.

It is an attention-grabbing, factual statement that makes a targeted, unique offer based on consumers' needs.

What a USP isn't

A USP is not a slogan, promotion or an unofficial, self-awarded "world's best" decoration.

It isn't a common trait of successful brands, like quality service or trustworthiness.

It isn't meant to draw attention to something irrelevant to the core of the brand. No matter how unique the office kombucha dispenser might be, it doesn't benefit the consumer, and it sure doesn't interest them either.

It can be anything, as long as it’s different 

Often when coming up with their USP, marketers automatically try to find something that their brand is the very best at. While a USP can emphasise the areas where you lead in the industry, it really doesn't have to.

For example, if your brand offers three services commonly covered by competitors, but is the only one providing all three in one place, the intersection of those three is where your USP lies.

A USP makes your brand distinctive

Having a distinctive brand not only means that your brand is easily identifiable among competitors but also that your brand proposes a clear benefit to consumers.

For example, Ryanair is an Irish airline with the USP of constantly trying to find ways to make flights cheaper for their customers. Everyone knows Ryanair as one of the cheapest airlines in Europe and expects nothing more from them. Other airlines may be more luxurious, but Ryanair stays in business because they know their low prices make them unique, and they capitalise on that.

Consumer brand loyalty is what keeps many consumers from trying new brands, as long as their beloved brand stays the way it is. That's right — it doesn't even have to improve! 

Your brand can be just as good or even better, but people gravitate towards familiarity. So, unless you can provide a distinctive and new benefit to consumers, it isn't very likely that your market share will grow at a desirable rate.

It narrows down your target audience

A common worry that keeps marketers from making their campaigns too niche is excluding possible customers because of "overly specific" marketing. The truth is, you're missing out on much more by not niching down. It's more beneficial to target a market segment that needs exactly what you are uniquely good at. 

Your marketing now resonates with a far greater percentage of the target demographic. It ensures that no resource goes to waste, and that your marketing reaches a higher return on investment. No brand will ever truly be without competition, but this will significantly decrease how much of it you face.

It helps increase your revenue

When consumers are considering supporting a brand, the question they ask is, "Why?" and not, "Why not?"

For that reason, not providing a clear reason why consumers should choose you over your competitors can be detrimental to revenue. Distinctive branding, niche marketing, high return on investment and a streamlined sales process are all products of an effective USP that make great contributions to growing revenue.

Have any questions about the USP? Ask away in the comment section below.

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*Image courtesy of Canva