What is the Unique Selling Proposition?

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a Marketing Strategy that consists of highlighting what differentiates a product from others.

 

The “motto” of Ryanair is a good example of USP.

USP in Marketing

The Unique Selling Proposition is widely used in:

  • Strong and Recognizable Brands.
    • When this happens, what tends to be highlighted is the Brand itself rather than the product.

 

  • Products that are well differentiated from those of the competition.
    • Sometimes the Brand is even ignored, highlighting only the characteristics of the Product.

 

Let’s see the first example:

Example of USP: Coca Cola

 

Coca-Cola is one of the most successful companies in developing Marketing campaigns.

  • Its name is associated to “Happiness” when they only sell sugar-based drinks… Nothing more.

 

However, if you see some old Coca-Cola Ads, you can appreciate How their USP have changed over time:

 

Old Advertisings of Coca-Cola

 

When nobody knew Coca-Cola, they had to highlight what made their product different:

  • The taste.

 

Over the years, everyone knew what Coca-Cola tasted like, so they had to associate new values to their Brand:

  • They decided to use “Happiness”.

 

New Ads of Coca-Cola

 

Either you like Coca-Cola or not… It is the only product whose name has been associated to “happiness”.

 

So, their Unique Selling Proposition is that: “Open Happiness“.

  • Are you Happy, Do you want to be happy, Do you have something to celebrate?… Get a Coke

Although USPs may seem easy to develop, they are not.

  • There are lots of Marketing campaigns and millions invested behind every successful USP.

 

Then, do you have to be a large Corporation to adopt a USP Strategy?

  • No.

 

However, there are some aspects you have to consider if you want to develop a successful USP:

How to write a USP

What you offer must be Real.

  • Never Lie or over-exaggerate (Coca-Cola can do it because they spent billions of dollars).

 

Your USP must be Coherent with the Product and the Company.

  • The message must make sense.

 

The USP must be Easy to understand.

  • Even a Child should be able to easily understand what you offer.

 

The less known the Brand, the more specific the USP must be.

  • If nobody knows your Product or Brand, you must be explicit about what you offer.

 

The USP should be Open to changes.

  • The USP can be modified over the years, don’t use very “closed” statements.

Before looking at more examples, we want to clarify one thing that tends to confuse people:

  • The difference between the Mission and the USP of a Company.

Mission vs Unique Selling Proposition

 

These two concepts are similar, but completely different in essence.

 

The Mission refers to the Role, a Company wants to play in society.

  • How a Company “helps” Clients.

 

The USP refers to what a certain Product or Brand offers, which is different from others.

  • What distinguishes a Product or Brand from others.

 

* For example:

Coca-Cola‘s Mission is: “Refresh the world. Make a difference“.

Coca-Cola‘s USP is: “Open Happiness“.

  • After decades of Marketing, drinking a “Red Coca-Cola” is associated with good times.

Now, let’s see more examples so you better understand How USPs are developed:

USP examples

In these examples we’ll analyze the USPs of different companies.

  • In case we don’t find a clear USP, we will propose a USP that they could use.

 

Let’s begin:

Starbucks - USP example

 

We haven’t found an explicit USP of Starbucks.

 

In their Ads, they highlight:

  • “Good Quality Coffee”.
  • “Good Moments”.

 

Maybe, they released an Advertising Campaign with a well defined USP but, we have not found it.

 

Hence, we’ll propose a good USP that Starbucks could use:

  • Invented by ourselves.

 

Starbucks USP

 

High quality coffee and a cozy atmosphere to make you feel at home.

Netflix - USP example

We haven’t found any USP for Netflix either.

 

Netflix’s Mission is: “To entertain the world”.

But that is something that Disney could also claim.

  • We are looking for something more specific.

 

Again, we will propose a USP campaign that Netflix could use:

 

Netflix USP

 

The best catalog of Movies and Series in a single streaming platform.

McDonald's - USP example

 

Like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s products are so well known to everyone that they no longer need to use USP Ads.

 

Everybody knows:

  • What they offer.
  • What their Products taste like.
  • What to expect from one of their restaurants.

 

However, in the beginning, they had to “educate” the people about what they offered.

 

Let’s see some USPs they used in the past:

 

McDonald’s USP

McDonald’s hamburgers taste Better!

 

We change the way you look at breakfast.

 

Nobody can do it like McDonald’s can.

 

We do it all for you.

Burger King - USP example

 

Burger King: McDonald’s eternal rival.

 

Although you can find ads where Burger King also “educates” people about what it offers…

… We think it is much more interesting to analyze other campaigns they have used.

 

Some of its USPs pointed directly to McDonald’s.

  • By comparing Burger King and McDonald’s products.

 

Burger King USP

Our Whopper is bigger than the Big Mac.

They use an image to say it.

 

Unlike McDonald’s hamburgers, ours do not use artificial preservatives.

They use an image to say it.

Summarizing

The Unique Selling Proposition is a Marketing Strategy that consists of highlighting what differentiates a product from others.

 

The USP is widely used in:

  • Strong and Recognizable Brands.
  • Products that are well differentiated from those of the competition.

 

How to write a successful USP:

  • What you offer must be Real.
  • Your USP must be Coherent with the product and Company.
  • The USP should be easy to understand.
  • The less known the Brand, the more specific the USP must be.
  • The USP must be Open to changes.

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