Is a unique selling proposition (USP) the same as a tagline, a value proposition, or a mission statement? Not necessarily.
A tagline and a proposition distinguish your products or services. A tagline, sometimes known as a slogan, is a concise and memorable form of your selling proposition. A mission statement defines why you’re in business.
By contrast and its original definition, by adman Rosser Reeves, a unique selling proposition is more benefit-oriented:
- “Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer…Each advertisement must say to each reader: ‘Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.’
- The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot or does not, offer. It must be unique–either a uniqueness of the brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field of advertising…
- The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.”
Some see a USP and a value proposition as the same. Compared to a USP, others view a value proposition as a more specific claim about the effectiveness of products or services.
Here’s how Nike, maker of athletic gear, has expressed their uniqueness through each type of messaging:
- Unique selling proposition: “Nike delivers innovative products, experiences and services to inspire athletes.”
- Value proposition: “Customizable performance or lifestyle sneakers with unique colorways and materials.” (Specific to their Colorways footwear)
- Mission statement: “Bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world.”
- Tagline or slogan: “Just do it.”
The basic building blocks of a mission statement or a tagline may form your unique selling or value proposition.
How to Write a Unique Selling Proposition, a Value Proposition, or a Tagline
1. Consider your “how” – What do you do? What sets you apart from competitors? Which problems do you solve? Your personality and how you do business, combined with your expertise, make you “you.” They’re part of your brand.
Example: The Law Office of Brady Skinner: “The No B.S. Attorney.”
2. Hear your “who” – Who do you serve? Do you have special knowledge or experience that helps you help certain people?
Example: Arizona-based real estate divorce specialist Bob Adelfson helps people going through a divorce sell their marital homes.
3. Find your “why” – Why do you do what you do? Why does your work matter to you — and why should it matter to others? Which problems do you solve? Answering these questions helps customers understand why you can help them. This ties to your core brand values.
Example: Some doctors at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center were also cancer patients. Their experiences led them to feel more empathy for their patients. They also better understood the side effects of the treatments they prescribed.
Their knowledge and personal experience add to their “why” and differentiate them from providers who haven’t had cancer.
4. Add them up – How + Who + Why = Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This equation helped me create my new business USP and tagline.
Example: Quality custom content that boosts service firms’ brands to win the right clients.
A USP defines an aspect of your business that distinguishes it. Using two of the three parts of the USP equation (“how” + “why,” “how” + “who,” etc.), you may trim your USP to a tagline.
Example: Based on my USP, my tagline becomes, “Win the right clients with quality custom content.”
5. Take a step farther – Add a specific claim to your USP or your tagline to form your value proposition. The benefit can include the results customers may expect or will get from working with you.
Example: “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.” (Geico)
Learn more about how to write a unique selling proposition (and other brand messaging) to reach ideal clients.
What’s your unique selling proposition? Feel free to comment below.
“You’ve got to start with the customer experience then work backwards.”Steve Jobs
“A unique selling proposition is no longer enough. Without a unique selling talent, it may die.”Bill Bernbach