The Name of the Game - Unique Selling Points (USPs)

I thought I'd introduce to you a little trend, which has been around for a while. The trend of using USP's in taglines. (Don't worry those who don't understand this just yet- all will be revealed below!)Seeing as the gaps are slowly closing between different areas in design (e.g. graphic, programming, branding, conceptual, web, print, etc) I thought it would be an interesting thing to write an article on a marketing term. As a multi-disciplined designer and involved in advertising and branding, which is applied across many mediums including web and print, it is important that I develop marketing skills. Too often you get a guy who rocks at making things look good - but his work carries no messaging, no purpose, other than "it looks good". The secret is to not only make things look good, but to make the design appeal to the target audience and conveys the message that the client wants to achieve.For example, pick up the nearest fashion magazine. Check out an advert by Calvin Kline, Armani or Dolche and Gabriana. More often or not it will be a black and white photo with their logo in the bottom left. That photo you are looking at is not just a photo. It is a message. It has been painstakingly chosen from possibly thousands of potentials. The model, the pose and the cloths are all directed to send a message. Don't let the casual smile, the slightly tilted camera angle and the over exposure in the top left corner fool you into believing its just been slapped on. Its not. My point is this. Not only will it look good but also it will have purpose - it will have a message that you may not be able to see straight off but your subconscious will. If its directed at you, you will like it, you will then be influenced when shopping the next day in town.When we come to marketing it is all about this purpose. Nothing is left to chance. I am not a marketer but like to feel I can be influenced by its principles. Purpose is what makes a designer different to an artist. How can we get to know what purposes should govern our branding? What messages should our advertising have? What graphic style should we communicate?Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, let me introduce to you the USP.


USP stands for unique selling point (or unique selling proposition). To market a business or product successful it is always important to establish what its unique selling points are. What makes it different form the rest. Maybe you are cheaper, maybe your product is of a better quality, maybe it has features that other products don't, maybe in the context of the fashion example mentioned above it is classier than the competitors. USP's do not have to be real - some can be apparitional. This is part of branding - the messages and the persona which surrounds your company or product. Find out more about Unique Selling Propositions / Points from Wikipeadia.


USPs can be communicated in many different ways. Visually or typographically - or both. The trend I wish to briefly look at however is the specific inclusion of USP's in taglines. Taglines are those supporting sentences, often displayed with a logo. These are there to communicate in a minute amount on time a unique selling proposition. Why should I deal with these guys? Why should I buy this product? A good tagline in my view does this and we see that this is the case with many of the large brands. For example:Sainsbury's - "Try something new Today" - USP = Variation and ChoiceTesco's - "Every little helps" - USP = Low PricesMacDonalds - "I'm lovin it" - USP = Experience and TasteNike - "Just do it" - USP = QualitySkype - "The whole world for free" - USP = CheapBudweiser - "King o beers" - USP = TasteHeineken - "Refreshes the parts others cannot reach" - USP =TasteHalifax - "Always giving you extra" - USP = - "Earth's biggest book store" - USP = Variation and ChoiceRoyal Mail - "with us its personal" - USP = ServiceBMW - "The Ultimate driving machine" - USP = QualityToyota - "The Car in fronts a Toyota" - USP = QualityOlay - "love the skin your in" - USP = Protection and Care - QualityVelvet Tissue - "love your bum" - USP = QualityRed Bull - "Gives you wings" - USP = ExperienceHarvey Nichols - "Heaven on Earth" - USP = Quality and ExperienceRonseal - "Does what it says on the tin" - USP = SimplicityPost Office - "For the little things that make the big things happen"- USP = ServiceYou see how all these communicate a USP.


Sometimes you meet designers who do not understand USP's or taglines. You get the type which use taglines to communicate what the client does. For example an electrician firm who uses the tagline "for all your electrical needs" simply tells the viewer they deal with electrics. However a competitor with the tagline "service you can rely on" tells the viewer that they can be trusted. It is very important to know and understand what to put in taglines - sometimes, in sectors that need to explain their existence, a descriptive tagline might be a good idea. It all depends on the market and the message. Generally though I personally find that USPs have to huge part to play in a company's success and are well worth studying.So are you using them? What is your tagline like?Go on - go and identify your USP - but before you do Let us know your thoughts...This article can also be found on Fadtastic.


interesting article - yes usp 's are very important especially when your business is in such a competetive marketplace, e.g. graphic design, website design, seo etc etc. Thanks