The world has come a long way since the days when branding was just a simple way to identify cattle that belonged to different ranches. In the marketing world, branding has become an intricate process that aims to both attract and persuade customers. Today’s brands do so much more than just distinctively mark products belonging to certain manufacturers. Branding creates a complex identity that can be infused into all company activities from manufacturing to marketing.
Brands are multilayered structures that encompass different components such as core values, a brand vision or mission, a slogan, design elements, website, and tone of voice. Shaping a successful brand takes tremendous effort as all pieces of the puzzle need to fit together perfectly. It all starts with choosing the right brand values that help your company connect with consumers and stand out from the competition. We cannot stress enough the importance of this step. In time, your company’s website might change, its logo might change, services and products can evolve, but your brand’s values should remain stable regardless of the shifting tides. Otherwise, the connection with the target audience might be lost forever. So, choose wisely.
Brand values directly impact other aspects of a brand. They can be distilled in a catchy slogan and they can directly inform the company’s mission, showcasing the real-life impact they have on company actions and objectives. Even the brand’s visual identity is heavily impacted by brand values. In fact, it serves as an effective, intuitive tool for communicating the brand’s core values. To put it plainly, a playful, young brand will choose a bright, modern color scheme and logo, while a more traditional brand will opt for more subdued, elegant hues. However, the brand’s visual identity is not purely focused on brand values, it equally caters to user preferences and expectations. Nevertheless, in order to bring the consumer’s perspective to the forefront other pieces of the brand puzzle are needed.
Today’s brands are quite complex and verbose. Marketing campaigns employ different types of messages and media in order to highlight the major benefits offered by a certain brand and connect with audiences. And with so much complexity, important aspects can get lost in translation. That’s why most brands create a value proposition, a concise phrase that tells the audience what the most appealing brand benefits are. It contains the essence of the brand from a consumer’s perspective, making it more persuasive than a brand-centric slogan.
A brand’s value proposition is the equivalent of an entrepreneur’s elevator pitch, so it should be concise, persuasive, and memorable. These may seem minimal requirements, but clear and persuasive value propositions are quite difficult to come by in a business world where differences between services and products are minute. However, there are some best practices one should consider when attempting to craft an effective value proposition.
1. Make your value proposition relevant
Naturally, the best way to get started when looking to create the perfect value proposition is to look closely at your brand’s values and mission. However, after identifying your brand’s core values, it is important to take a step back and try to see these values from your audience’s perspective. After all, the best way to connect with potential customers is to prove that you have shared values. Which of your company’s values are the most relevant for your target audience and the experience you offer? Your proposition should reflect your consumer’s interests, not just the company’s identity or brand experience.
That said, aim to be truthful and relatable, and never promise more than your brand can actually deliver. Business is business and consumers don’t expect private companies to take on the world’s problems, but they do expect them to provide the quality they promised. So, be extra mindful when embracing ethical values or making grand promises. It’s best to focus on how your product or service actually impacts the lives and businesses of consumers.
What problems does your service or product address? Are those pain-points relevant for your audience? How does your product and service actually benefit the consumer? Your company’s value proposition should provide a short but extremely persuasive answer to these questions.
2. Make your value proposition unique
Once you establish what your product’s most important benefits are, from a consumer’s perspective, it’s time to compare and contrast. Your value proposition won’t attract attention unless it’s unique. Make sure you examine your competitors’ messages thoroughly and differentiate your product and service. Even if your product is not totally unique on the market, your company still provides certain services differently, simply because it is a different enterprise with its own company culture. So, what is your competition focusing on: quality, speed, great customer service and assistance? Identify their main focus and try to focus on something different or just create your own unique mix of services and benefits.
As we’ve already stated, ideally your company’s value proposition should be unique, but in today’s highly competitive world this is not always possible. There are dozens of services offering pretty much the same thing all over the Internet. In these cases, numbers speak louder than words. So, if you are outshining the competition when it comes to certain services, make sure you are proudly showcasing the relevant numbers.
3. Make it visible
If your value proposition is relevant and unique, it just needs an extra push to effectively grab user attention. While it should be as concise as possible, your company’s value proposition is not a slogan. It can be lengthier as long as it’s structured in a clear, straight-forward way. For instance, on a website, you can choose to display your value proposition as a headline, a subheadline and a paragraph, a bulleted list, or a video. By including your value proposition in an image or video, you will most likely attract more attention and enhance your impact.
4. Make it memorable
Once you’ve gathered everyone’s attention, it’s important to find the most concise and straight-forward wording for your value proposition. If we consider Skype’s value proposition: ”Skype keeps the world talking, for free. Share, message and call – now with group video on mobile and tablet too”, we notice that very little is left to the imagination. Although the value proposition starts like an inspirational slogan, it becomes more consumer oriented once it highlights the fact that it’s a free service. Next users are simply presented with a list of services available through Skype. It’s the mix of services and low cost that makes Skype stand out to potential users.
FreshBooks, a popular accounting software, is more focused on its users, without offering details about the software itself. While its value proposition is quite long if we consider the explanatory subtitle: “Small business accounting software designed for you, the non-accountant – FreshBooks is the only accounting software designed exclusively for service-based small businesses”, users will remember the main advantage, namely, that this software can be used by small-businesses that don’t employ an accountant. The website even provides different personas that represent the company’s target audience: marketing and creative, legal services, trades, IT. Regardless of what you want to focus on, finding the right value proposition is no simple feat, it takes patience, determination and testing. Testing multiple versions can help marketers gather insight into what consumers truly resonate with. After all, it’s all about finding that unique spot where brand values, product benefits and user needs converge. However, even after finding the perfect value proposition, as the market evolves and audiences change, it’s recommended to periodically revisit it and make adjustments.