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Many people think that a brand is just something you see: a name or logo, but that is just a fraction of the brand’s story. Instead, a brand is a person’s overall perception of your business and is the first thing a potential customer or investor will see. These days, people are overwhelmed by choice and want to quickly understand how your product or service is different from others. It is, therefore, crucial to identify the unique benefit that sets your business apart from competitors and use this to guide your branding and marketing decisions. This is known as your unique selling proposition (USP).

This article will consider what a USP is and the key fundamentals when creating your brand and USP.

What is a USP?

Put simply, a USP is what makes your business stand out from other businesses in your market. A USP should highlight the unique benefit of your brand or product that makes it valuable to your consumers. A strong and obvious USP can make or break businesses in today’s competitive landscape, so it is crucial that you utilise your USP in your overall marketing strategy.

Your products or services do not necessarily need to be unique themselves for you to have a strong USP. It could focus on, for example, your story, mission, reputation, or market position. Ultimately, it will be the message you choose to focus on that sets you apart from the rest.

Some examples of famous and powerful USPs include:

  • M&M’s – ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand’. M&Ms uses a unique hard sugar coating that prevents the chocolate inside from melting in one’s hands.
  • The Economist – ‘You’ve seen the news, now discover the story’. The Economist focuses its USP around going beyond a regular service of delivering the news and instead telling stories.
  • Head & Shoulders – ‘Clinically proven to reduce dandruff’. Head and Shoulders anti-dandruff shampoo contains a unique form of zinc pyrithione, a dandruff eliminating ingredient different from other dandruff shampoos.

These USPs highlight a unique benefit of the product or service that other competitors do not have and are meaningful to customers.

How to Create a Brand and USP

It is not an easy task to build your brand and USP from scratch. We have outlined below some of the key considerations to help you get started.

1. Define Your Brand’s Purpose

Every successful brand is driven by its purpose and values. To help define your brand, you should ask yourself:

  • What do you offer and why?
  • How is your offering different?
  • What problem do you solve and how?

This will inform the foundation of your branding as you build it, including through your name, logo, tagline, mission statement, USP, and more.

2. Know Your Market

It is important to understand your market, namely who your customers will be and your current competitors. You can do this by simply carrying out an online search of your product or service to see who your competitors are targeting and analysing the typical traits of their customers. You can also try other strategies such as:

  • speaking to people in your target market directly to understand who they currently buy from and why;
  • testing out the market by creating a Facebook ad and analysing those who are receptive to your ad;
  • reading online reviews from customers who have bought from a competitor’s business.

The approach to determining your target audience needs to be specific. For example, if you are selling sportswear, targeting ‘athletes’ would be too broad. Instead, you should narrow this to a more specific and niche target, such as ‘athletes who are recovering from injuries’.

Determining your target audience and researching competitors is crucial as it will define your brand’s focus and position against existing brands in your space.

3. Make a Visual Impact

Without being able to experience your product or service physically, your brand’s visuals need to grab the customer’s attention and show what you stand for. These visuals make up your brand’s identity, such as your logo, tagline, colour scheme, website layout, typography, shopfront, and much more. Each element should be distinctive and applied consistently across your entire business to ensure a strong brand identity.

Adopting a brand identity that is generic or similar to an existing brand can lead to difficulty in obtaining registered rights in the brand and enforcing your rights in the brand, among other issues. For example, it is difficult to register a trade mark for a generic name such as ‘Garden Centre’ because other traders will need to use these words in the normal course of trade.

From time to time, you may need to change how you present your brand visually as your business and market evolve, which is important for keeping your brand relevant and current. For example, LegalVision started as a free online legal content service targeting individual business owners and startups. To keep up with our audience, we tracked who visited our website, who downloaded our content, and who was talking about us. Over time, our audience expanded to small, medium, and large enterprises, so we updated our branding accordingly.

Key Takeaways

The process of developing your brand does not happen overnight and is much more than choosing a name or logo. The brand development process forms the groundwork for informing how the world will see your business. As part of this process, the following key principles are crucial:

  • understand and define your brand’s purpose;
  • know your market by determining your target audience and researching your competitors; and
  • create a brand that is visually distinctive and memorable.

While you build your brand, it is particularly important to create a powerful USP that clearly defines what makes your business different from competitors in the market. These fundamentals will inform the focus and position of your brand in the market and should be conveyed consistently across the entire business. Once you find your USP, the next step is to protect it from competitors. If you need help with protecting your branding, our experienced IP lawyers can help. Give us a call on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a USP?

A USP, or unique selling proposition, is the message that your branding promotes to stand out from competitors. For example, it can highlight something unique about the design or ingredients of your product or promote the brand’s values, mission or story.

How do I come up with a USP?

You should consider a number of factors, including the views of your target audience, your brand’s purpose and values, and how you will visually communicate your USP. 

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