If you have a company, a brand, a product, or a service you need to stand out in order to make headway in the overcrowded market. Marketing is all about creating that message which will accomplish this goal. Now, the question becomes, “do I create a UVP, a USP, a positioning, or all-of-the-above for my offering?”
Let’s define the terms first. Based on everything I researched, these are the best descriptions I have been able to create that clearly show how these terms are different. Whatever you want to call them, each will help you describe and/or communicate exactly how your product or service brings a unique value to your customers and why they should choose you over someone else.
- Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is an “inward facing” statement about who you are as a company–a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. UVP is a STRATEGY. It provides a “peg” upon which to hang all the company deliverables: product, experience, service, etc.
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is an “outward facing” statement about how your company is different from the competition when a customer has already decided to make a purchase. Generally, a USP is a single feature or benefit of a product hammered home through ads that focus powerfully and solely on the USP. USP is a DEVICE and may change over time.
- Positioning is the space you own or want to own in your target consumer’s mind. A positioning statement is generally more powerful than a USP because it requires you to explain the “why” you can deliver your promised benefit(s) better than the competition to a specific target. A positioning is a STRATEGY to convince prospects to try your products or services.
So let’s take a real example with a company that does a really great job at this–Volvo. Probably when I just mention the name, words or images immediately flash into your head. Volvo is all about “safety” and started effectively communicating this in 1944 with the introduction of its steel safety cage. Many of you may remember seeing advertisements from yesteryear showing the Volvo dummies remaining intact after a major crash. I pulled this picture from the Internet as a reminder.
So let’s look at Volvo in terms of our definitions:
UVP: The customer will feel far safer in a Volvo because they know their family is more likely to survive or escape injury because of the safety features. This is of the mindset that all the engineers work to deliver enhancements to the car, and that has become the North Star upon which everything is evaluated.
USP: Volvo is one of the world’s leaders in automobile safety. Current selling line is: Volvo. For Life. This cleverly articulates that Volvo will be your lifelong car AND save your life.
Positioning: Volvo is one of the safest family vehicles available because the Volvo Company has been in the forefront of safety engineering from its initial design innovation of the steel safety cage to today’s pedestrian and cyclist external airbags. The positioning gives us the “why,” and probably what most of you don’t even know is that Volvo has been one of the driving forces in many of the safety features many cars have today: improved windshields, 3 point seatbelts, whiplash protection, etc.
Now, here’s a fun tidbit your probably didn’t even know, but “Volvo” means “I roll” in Latin. They named the car this in 1927, so they had a UVP before the term was even coined (although the name was originally created for ball bearings in 1915).
As you can see, while theses statements are similar, each serves a unique purpose for the organization. So, take a hard look at what you are selling. Do you have a clear vision for what you are trying to accomplish and communicate? If not, it is time to sharpen the pencil and get started!