What is a Unique Selling Proposition & How can it Benefit your Business?

The nature of business is based on the idea of healthy competition, with a unique selling proposition providing an advantageous edge. In today’s digital age, consumers are bombarded with choice now more than ever. 

With the introduction of eCommerce and relatively easy international shipping, customers are no longer bound by geographical radius when deciding where to spend their hard-earned money. 

This increase in consumer choice continues to elevate the competitive business market in all industries, making it essential for businesses to stand out from the rest in order to be successful.

This article will discuss:

What is a Unique Selling Proposition? Why Do You Need One?

unique selling proposition definition

A Unique Selling Proposition, often called a USP, is the “x-factor” that makes your business stand out from the competition. Your product or business model’s defining feature or features is the distinct advantage you have over other businesses that provide similar products or services. This is your Unique Selling Proposition. 

Creating a deliberate Unique Selling Proposition helps to influence several elements in your brand, from business operations to your product and even your marketing strategies.

Your Unique Selling Proposition should be obviously indicated to your target audience through marketing efforts, utilizing branding services, copywriting, product packaging, etc. These marketing tactics should play your businesses’ strengths and clearly state what sets you apart from similar brands existing within your industry.

However, it is critical to remember that your marketing efforts should amplify your Unique Selling Proposition and should not be relied upon as “what makes you unique.” Unique Selling Propositions should not be marketing campaigns or tactics like “free shipping” or “24-hour customer service.” 

While these might be effective strategies, they are not unique.

How to Build a Unique Selling Proposition

A strong Unique Selling Proposition plays to your companies’ strengths, brand personality, and inherent vision and values. However, it is important not to think only about yourself and forget your audience when determining your business’s Unique Selling Proposition. 

A compelling Unique Selling Proposition considers what your audience cares about and the actions your brand must take to fulfill this need.

In this way, a compelling Unique Selling Proposition keeps the following principles in mind.

Specific Assertive Statements you Wholeheartedly Stand Behind

Nowadays, it is not enough to make sweeping general statements about your brand or products and hope it resonates with your audience. 

A Unique Proposition Statement should be memorable, assertive, and something your brand integrates into everything you do.

Focus on What Your Customers Want and Value

A Unique Selling Proposition focuses on what makes your brand different from competitors in a way that your consumers genuinely want. 

Unless your Unique Selling Proposition is something your target audience truly cares about, it will not move the needle on attracting new business.

Let Your Unique Selling Proposition Guide Everything you do

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when sharing their Unique Selling Proposition is allowing it to become “just a tagline.” 

Your Unique Selling Proposition should be integrated into everything you do, from your business model and operations to your marketing and customer service. 

It should be the ethos of your brand, not just a byline on your website.

Change the Rules of the Game

One of the best ways to set yourself apart from your competitors is to change the game of the competition entirely.  

Rather than trying to compete in an overly saturated market, blazing your own trail is often one of the best ways to create a successful Unique Selling Proposition.

Get Personal

Many successful businesses’ strategy is to create a Unique Selling Proposition based on their founder or owner’s personal brand. 

Examples of companies that have successfully tied their company brand with their owner’s personal brand include George Zimmer from Men’s Wearhouse, Steve Jobs with Apple and Walt Disney with the Walt Disney Company.

Examples of Businesses Who Leveraged Their Unique Selling Proposition

While developing a Unique Selling Proposition for your business, it can help to use successful brands for a case study on how to set yourself apart from competitors

Below are our top picks for well-known brands that have successfully differentiated themselves from others in their industries.

Temporary tattoo company Tattly utilized its unique selling proposition by marketing their products for adults as well as kids by incorporating designs from real artists. Credit: @tattly/Instagram

Tattly, a high-end temporary tattoo company, was able to change the game and tap into an otherwise undervalued market, premium temporary tattoos for both children and adults. 

Traditionally, temporary tattoos were reserved for children. However, Tattly has completely changed that with their beautifully designed temporary tattoos designed by real artists. 

Tattly is an excellent example of trailblazing their own path as part of their Unique Selling Proposition.

Third Love
third love
Women’s undergarment brand, Third Love, used the tagline” we have the right fit” across every aspect of their brand as a unique selling proposition to promote inclusivity, customer service and value to their customers. Credit: @thirdlove/Instagram

Third Love, a women’s undergarment brand, made its mark with an online eCommerce website designed to help fit every woman with her perfect bra based on her unique body. 

Third Love’s Unique Selling Proposition was their interactive Fit Finder that helps women find the perfect bra for their shape. Unlike other brands that only provide standard sizing charts, Third Love went above and beyond to create a customized customer experience. 

Third Love’s “we have the right fit” mantra guides everything they do from marketing, customer service, and the services available on their eCommerce platform. It is valuable to note that Third Love also broke the marketing mould by advertising extensively on podcasts with high female listenership, such as true crime podcasts. 

At the time, this market was entirely untapped by similar brands’ advertising.

everlane unique selling proposition
A commitment to brand values through open communication and transparency regarding manufacturing processes is at the heart of clothing brand Everlane Unique Selling Proposition. Credit: @everlane/Instagram.

As we mentioned above, an excellent Unique Selling Proposition doesn’t necessarily mean that your product or service must be unique. Everlane is a trailblazing example of this. 

While their clothing might not be particularly groundbreaking, the commitment to their brand’s values sets them apart from their competition. Everlane is committed to providing an entirely transparent manufacturing process to its customers. Their tag line “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask why.” promotes their idea of radical transparency and lives throughout the brand. 

Everlane’s commitment to how they do business is what sets them apart from others in their industry and caters specifically to consumers who value ethical practices in clothing manufacturing. 

Everlane doesn’t just tell you about their ethical standards. They show you.

Dollar Shave Club
Mail-order subscription service, Dollar Shave Club, offers affordable and simplistic products that enable consumers to set up prescheduled delivery, creating a desirable unique selling proposition that appeals to everyone. Credit: @dollarshaveclub/Instagram

Dollar Shave Club is another example of taking a standard consumer product and elevating it with an experience of convenience. Dollar Shave Club is a mail order subscription for shaving products catering to both men and women. 

What sets Dollar Shave Club apart is their commitment to making things simple for the customers. Their products are affordable and simplistic, and their customized delivery service enables consumers to set up a prescheduled delivery of their favourite Dollar Shave Club products right to their door.  

This customer-experience-first mentality is a rarity for simple, everyday products like razors, creating a valuable Unique Selling Proposition out of Dollar Shave Club’s unique mail-order business model.

Head & Shoulders
head & shoulders
Popular haircare brand Head and Shoulders established a unique selling proposition by honing in on a particular, albeit common, hair struggle, dandruff. Now, for many consumers, it is the go-to brand to help combat this issue. Credit: @headandshouldrs/Instagram

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the classic examples of a strong Unique Selling Proposition, Head & Shoulders hair care. Just look at the hair care aisle of your local grocery for a visual example of the industry’s competitiveness. 

So, what makes one shampoo stand out from the rest in that aisle? Head & Shoulders has done a remarkable job of creating a Unique Selling Position within their industry by making a product that solely targets a particular hair concern – dandruff. 

Although a very common concern, albeit not a particularly glamourous one, Head and Shoulders created a product that appeals to many consumers and sets itself apart from other hair care. 

Despite many brands also carrying dandruff shampoo, for many consumers, Head & Shoulders is synonymous with dandruff shampoo and the first brand they grab without much thought. That is the power of a strong Unique Selling Proposition.

Key Takeaways 

Using the above examples as guides, you can begin to identify and leverage your business’s own Unique Selling Proposition. 

Competition is tough in all marketplaces and industries. As you learned about above, your produce or service does not need to be unique in itself to attract interest, but it does need its own “it” factor to make it stand out from the crowd. 

We encourage all business owners to invest in discovering their Unique Selling Proposition and develop an understanding of what their customers want and what their competitions aren’t doing. 

There are a million ways to market and sell your products to your target audience. Still, without the distinguishing factor of a Unique Selling Proposition, your efforts may never reach their full potential.

Written By Editorial Team

Along with the blog’s editors, we’re a collective of writers aimed at providing valuable industry insights and educational resources for DIY’ers, entrepreneurs, professionals and hobbyists. We range from former scientists, research students to enthusiasts and freelancers. Have a question or suggestion? Reach us at [email protected].