What makes you and your business truly unique?
We’re often asked by businesses of all sizes – from early start-ups to global brands – to help them find their ‘unique selling point’. They hope that this will be the thing that will get customers flocking to buy from them.
Many expect to find the USP in a product, service, feature or idea.
Still more believe that if they can only be more innovative and be the first to bring a new invention to market, they’ll be sure to get ahead of the competition…They’ll be winning!
There’s just one problem…
Even the greatest invention with the most cleverly conceived USP is not enough. There’ll either be another company out there with something similar or – if it’s truly novel and successful – someone will soon copy it. Even trademarks, patents and design registrations are often worked around by determined lawyers.
So, how can you actually stand out as being unique?
The perhaps, surprising news, is that in a world of AI, technology and rapid innovation – the answer is in being more human.
For a start, as the leader of your business, no one else is exactly the same as you. No one else has the same blend of knowledge, skills, experience and – of course – personality and leadership style.
This influences the way you run your business and therefore the experience of your customers and other stakeholders.
If you have a team, this brings an added dynamic. No two teams are alike. Your values and unique culture further influence the shape of how they interact with your business and, therefore, how it is perceived.
Also unique to you, is your story.
Your brand story delves into the ‘why’ of your business.
While many others are focusing on promoting their ‘what’ – such as product or service features – when you have your story – your ‘why’ – at the heart of your marketing, you are instantly more appealing.
Stand out with a great brand story
When you have a strong brand story, you connect with customers on a deeper and more memorable level. Therefore, you’re more likely to be both ‘first in mind’ and the preferred choice when customers are ready to buy.
A great brand story has four key ingredients…
1: An authentic origin people will care about
The narrative around your origin captures the reason the brand was established and its journey through its challenges and achievements.
The ethical – and premium – clothing brand, Patagonia is a good example. The company’s mission is not to just create durable things to wear – but to protect the environment and help slow global warming. The company wants to reduce the 85% of clothing that ends up in landfill or is incinerated in the US. Its ‘Worn Wear’ programme gives fresh life to used Patagonia products. They’re refurbished and re-sold at discounted prices. Less landfill, more to wear.
2: An emotional connection
Aligning your desires as a business with the desires of your customers creates an emotional connection.
Through its advertising, John Lewis is a master of this. The company’s adverts are designed to move the audience, whether it’s through empathy, connection, warmth or optimism. Every advert subconsciously says: ‘This is a brand that cares about people living well’.
3: Something that makes you different
The third ingredient in your story is to identify what makes you different, particularly the way you do things or the way people feel when they interact with you.
This is where your culture comes in.
Take the brand Lush for instance. It’s a vibrant brand that is as much about the sensory experience in-store, as it is about making us feel good for buying from a company that supports important causes or ideas, like avoiding animal cruelty. Lush is not afraid to be controversial. Its culture is woven through everything from its website to customers’ interactions with its people to its colourful products.
Lush gives customers something to talk about, helping them spread the word among friends.
‘Word of mouth’ is one of the most powerful forms of marketing.
4: Why your products and services matter
The final ingredient to a strong brand story involves getting across why your products and services matter. It goes beyond features to a bigger purpose from your customers’ point of view.
Apple, for example, doesn’t just make phones. Its devices enable customers to feel stylish whilst connecting with the people they care about or capturing great memories. In some ways, they become one of life’s companions.
The best brand stories ensure that people don’t just know about your company but feel something about it too. Brands that master the art of a great story often command premium prices because personal desire or connection with the brand, replaces cost as an driver in the buying decision.
Beware, though. It’s not enough for your brand story to be just words. It must be woven into your culture, your systems and every interaction you have with with customers and suppliers. Today people are more informed but also more sceptical than ever. They are alert to inflated claims and any inauthenticity.
Create a great brand story
If you want to create a remarkable brand story that compels your audience to take the actions you desire, ask yourself four sets of questions…
- Why do we do, what we do? What was the mission of the company when it was founded or what is its mission now?
- Next, what do we want people to think, feel or do about us? How can we appeal to people on an emotional level? What challenges or desires do we share?
- Thirdly, what makes us different? What is unique about the way we do things? What are our values? What is our culture? How does that relate to our customers?
- Finally, why should people care? What is important about our products and services? What impact do they have on the world and how do they make lives better?
Use the answers to these questions as the basis for a strong story.
Once you’ve polished your brand story… shout about it.
Weave it in everywhere. In your advertising. On social media. On anything your customers and key audiences interact with.
Stand out as the brand in your industry!
- Your Unique Selling Points need to be more than product or service features.
- Your true USPs are you as a leader, your team, your culture and your story.
- Successful and memorable brands use their unique story to create a special connection with their audience and can therefore sell at a higher price point.