One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to focus messaging entirely on features. Think of the times you landed on a homepage and were met with big, bolded bullet points of features with little else. Useful, sure, but not very compelling.
In comparison, think about your top favourite brands. They have something in common – they captured and continue to hold your attention. It’s no longer about a feature or two that you find useful, but something else that brings you back for more. Industry leaders go beyond service and product offerings by establishing a connection with their target audience, thanks to a strong understanding of how they create intangible value.
People buy into the brand more so than a singular product or feature you provide. If you don't demonstrate to your audience what makes you unique, it will become a feature vs. feature battle against your competitors, turning you simply into a commodity. The bullet points listed on your landing page will be compared to the bullet points on your competitor’s landing page. In this case, it will come down to your price point against theirs. You’re now just a commodity. Nice work.
So how do you rise above? Meaningful and relevant brand differentiation. The quality of your product and customer experience, of course, will have an impact on how you’re viewed in the marketplace compared to your competitors – but that’s only once a customer has committed to trying you out. In order to make an impression, you need branding.
Far more than just a logo, branding is the way you communicate and embody your unique value proposition to customers and employees.
Successful brands have promised, and then delivered on, promised value benefits and associations that satisfy their target audience’s emotional and rational needs, whether explicitly or implicitly. By transcending the commodity space, they command customer loyalty unattainable to competitors because of the strong connection with their audience.
Far more than just a logo, branding is the way you communicate and embody your unique value proposition to customers and employees
Identifying your unique value proposition (UVP) should be one of the first steps in building out your business strategy. The UVP is simply what you offer, the key benefits and why you’re the best competitive option. It should highlight both the emotional and rational benefits that customers get when they choose you. It’s an opportunity to delve into all the reasons one should believe in this company, product or service. You’re not looking to create a list or a table, but a well articulated summary of what makes you untouchable in your category.
A thoughtfully-crafted value proposition is far more effective than a laundry list of features when building your brand.
At the end of the day, your value proposition needs to be clear, meaningful and relevant to your target audience, identifying demonstrable benefits.
If you’re new to the game or simply looking for a refresher on identifying value propositions, we’d recommend diving into Value Proposition Design, the sequel to Business Model Generation: Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers.
According to Value Proposition Design, there are three essential steps:
1. Clarify your customer understanding
2. Describe how you intend to create value
3. Draw a line between the two
This resource dictates that the value proposition needs to be user-centric, coming from a place of what users need as opposed to what you happen to offer.
Once you know what needs to be said, you also need to be thoughtful about how you say it. A value proposition is something that needs to be easy understandable for the people you want to reach. It's essential to choose the right words that resonate with your target audience and arouse their emotions.
For a great example, check out how Airbnb articulates their value prop:
Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.
Simple as that.
A strong and impactful value proposition is essential for any business to effectively engage and connect with customers, partners, stakeholders and even employees, by clearly communicating and demonstrating the value of the brand. Once the value proposition is nailed, all else falls effortlessly into place... (kidding, but this is where the fun begins).
With value proposition in hand, you are now ready to create a whole new brand, or revitalize your existing one. Moving forward, the value proposition will be infused into everything related to your brand. Your brand must reflect your value at every brand touchpoint, reiterating your benefits both tangible and intangible.
This is the foundation on which all your key messages should grow from. These messages will be the focus of all branded initiatives and materials going forward. The messaging must be consistent for reinforcement and clarity, always speaking directly to the target audience.
Effective branded messaging based on a solid value proposition makes the difference between a company constantly trying to add an extra feature beyond their competitor and one that is seen as sitting in a category of one. Instead of playing the commodity game, define your company’s unique value proposition to develop a strong brand that will rise above the competition.
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