USP explained

USP is a term you may have heard bandied around when discussing marketing and brands. Just another one of those ACRONYMS right. Well kind of. I agree there are lots of useless, complicated ACRONYMS out there most of which I avoid like the plague. But USP is a rarity. It is actually very useful in branding. So let’s break it down. What does USP it stand for?

U= Unique

S= Selling

P = Proposition


So we all know what these words mean individually, so where is the value and insight in such a simple phrase for brands? The killer word in Unique.

What this phrase is asking for is THE (singular) UNIQUE (different to all others) SELLING (the act of..) PROPOSITION (a suggestion you might consider) for your product of service. And why is this so important? Because it makes us critically focus on our offer. The phrase is not interested in all the selling propositions you may have, the top three selling propositions you are proud of or a list of the types of propositions that are valuable to your customers. It wants just one. One that is different from everyone else’s. The one proposition that is going to sell you product or service to your customers when comparing with your completion. And there is a reason why designers, advertisers and marketers want brand and business owners to answer this critical question. Because we are charged with selling your product or service and we need to be single minded with our communication messages so it sticks in your target consumer’s minds. And we need something we can pin down and own!


Examples of rationale USPs are: cheapest, strongest, lightest, fastest, brightest, smallest, prettiest, oldest, tastiest, healthiest, bluest, smelliest, fastest growing, longest lasting.

Examples of emotional USPs are: most authentic, friendliest, most stylish, most trustworthy, most french, happiest, meanest!


It is helpful to contextualise your USP in a phrase. For example.


‘At 10,00 lumens, our bike headlight are the brightest headlights on the market.’  A singular, unique selling proposition for those looking to buy bright bike headlights. If you’re in the market for super bright headlights, you are definitely going to stop and take a look at ours. Whether or not you end up buying them will depend on lots of factors, but the job of getting your attention is done.


Get the idea?


Think about your brand or business. What is your USP? Come up with a list. Firstly make sure that they are true. Then test them versus the ACRONYM. How did you go? Do you have one stand-out that you can own?


Working out you USP is a very important excise and sometimes one that opens your eyes. You must do it. What if you don’t have a USP – your product is just like everyone elses. Say you are an accountant that does tax returns. All the same right? Wrong. You can be the fastest, the cheapest, the most expensive (lots of people choose based on high price!), the expert in cleaning businesses, the most local, the smartest, the only one in your city that speaks Thai!. What-ever it is you need to give your customers a reason to pick you. Find your USP. If it doesn’t yet exist, then build one into your business.  If you are starting a new business, there is no better strategic foundation than starting with your USP.