Monday, January 22, 2007

The Elusive USP.

The USP. It is probably the lead in the branding show. It takes a great deal of careful consideration. Every time I take on a focused brand project, it crosses my mind - "I wonder what USP we will develop?" As a matter of fact the thought is rather intimidating. I would probably compare it to stage fright. As with any discovery it is part intellegence, a lot of sweat and a dash of luck. Add to that the ability to dig, challenge and inspire everyone present.

The USP once discovered usually lights up the whole room. It is their aHa! moment. It is when they 'get it'. I really enjoy helping companies to focus their corporate brand. It definitely invigorates all the stakeholders in the room. I imagine that among brand practioners there are as many ways to reel in that USP as there are practioners. I enjoy the brainstorming session, where I challenge the company to dig deeper, ignore the obvious and the low hanging fruit. Don't worry about cost or practicality, let's just be great! Worry about how to do it later.

Do we have to invent a new category, do we have to sproat wings and fly? So long as the USP reflects our brand values and personality, we can truly shine. We strive to choose something that will make the competition whince and the customer embrace. Developing the USP is a lot of fun once you bravely take the stage and belt out that first line. It is a good story with a happy ending. Are you as annoyed as me when you read of a major "re-branding" effort and recognize that they confuse slogan with USP? Or use some weak statement like "The center of it all" to describe their uniqueness. Since I'm using theatre analogies here, this is where the big hook should come out.

So I guess you could say we are looking for the USP that is a big enough hit that we can take it out on the road and wow audiences everywhere. Everytime that happens, I'm the proud director backstage, watching another USP take their first bow.

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