Unique Selling Proposition

What is a Unique Selling Proposition? A definition for this widely diffused marketing concept using a Value Proposition Designer perspective.


The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is the one thing about your company that makes people want to buy from you instead of your competitors. It’s the one thing that differentiates you from everyone else out there. And it’s something that you should always keep in mind when trying to figure out how to make your business stand out from the crowd.

In fact, according to research conducted by Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, companies that have strong USPs tend to outperform their peers over time. So if you want to stay ahead of the game, then you need to start thinking about what your USP is right now.

The Unique Selling Proposition is one of the fundamental building blocks of a well-formed Value Proposition.

These three main blocks are:

  • The Core Values (CVs)
  • The Promise (P)
  • The Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Here are some things to consider when figuring out what your USP is:

  • What do you offer?

    This question is pretty straightforward. If you don’t know what you’re offering, then you probably won’t be able to answer this question. You’ll need to think about what services or products you provide to customers. Do they help them solve problems? Are they convenient? Is there anything special about your product or service that makes it worth buying?

  • How does your product/service differ from others?

    When you look at your own business, ask yourself these questions:

      1. Why would anyone choose my product/service over those offered by my competitors?
      2. How does my product/service differ from those offered by my competitors and what makes me better than them?
      3. What makes me unique?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be well on your way to developing your USP.

  • Who are your target customers?
  • Think about who you want to sell your product or service to. Who are the people who will benefit from using your product or service?
  • What problem does your product/service solve?

Are Unique Selling Proposition the same as a Value Proposition?

A Value Proposition (VP) and a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) are similar concepts, but they are not exactly the same.

A value proposition is a statement that explains how a product or service provides value to a customer. It answers the question, “Why should I choose your product or service over someone else’s?” A value proposition should clearly and concisely describe the benefits and features of a product or service, and how it meets the needs and desires of the target customer.


A unique selling proposition (USP) is a specific feature or benefit that sets a product or service apart from its competitors.

It is the one thing that makes a product or service unique and differentiates it from other offerings in the market.

 A USP should be something that cannot be easily replicated by competitors, and it should be closely aligned with the needs and desires of the target customer.

In summary

A value proposition is a broad statement about the overall value and benefits of a product or service, while a unique selling proposition is a specific, unique feature or benefit that sets a product or service apart from its competitors.

A value proposition is directly related to a Value, a Unique Selling Proposition to a direct benefit provided by an offering.

Both value propositions and unique selling propositions are important tools for marketing and sales, as they help to attract and retain customers by highlighting the benefits and features of a product or service.

Breaking down the Value proposition structure, each Unique Selling Proposition is strictly correlated with a single Promise and each Promise+USP pair is bound to a specific target, along with its declination and marketing execution.

There is not limit of Promise-USP pairs a brand can introduce to a market, as long as they are very specific to a market context (target and offering): it’s very common to see a business line, composed of different product offerings, holding for each of them an individual promise + USP for a specific target, eg: Apple with its iPhone business line, composed by a wide range of offerings of iPhones (Pro, X, SE, Ultra…) each of them with a specific Promise+USP for a particular target (Fitness people, Photography lovers, Millenials peace of mind driven…)

Each Promise+USP must be always aligned with one or more Core Values.


A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is important because it helps a business to stand out in a crowded and competitive market. By identifying and communicating the unique benefits and advantages of a product or service, a business can differentiate itself from its competitors and attract the attention of potential customers.

It’s all about the benefit you can provide, therefore it works in tandem with the promise you make.

In today’s market, consumers have many options to choose from, and it can be challenging for a business to get noticed and stand out. A strong USP can help a business to cut through the noise and communicate the value of its products or services in a clear and compelling way.

A USP is also important because it helps a business to build a strong brand and reputation. By consistently delivering on the promises of its USP, a business can build trust and credibility with its customers and establish itself as a leader in its industry.


Being coherent with your actions and messages to your audience.

You are selling one specific overstanding solution to a specific problem, don’t try to be generic and sell everything to everyone. Having a Unique Selling Proposition well-defined allows your teams and outsources to be coherent with all actions and messages you need to convey to a well-defined target. 

No dilution of value across channels and no waste of resources.

Value Propositions don’t change during a strategic plan, your USP can, and the more is focused on a specific context, the easier is to change it depending on market feedback, without the risk of hurting other components of your offering.


  • Core Values

    Core Values needs to be already defined, agreed and shared across the organisation.

  • Offering and Promises

    Starting with the business line, a clear formulation of the offerings (what, how, where) along with their intended promises will help you in the design of your unique selling proposition.
    Always think about concrete benefits you can provide to your audience.

  • Audience

    To Whom is always the most important factor in the equation. It's never a target by itself, but an extended knowledge of all targets you need to reach, where and why you try to reach them.


Defining your offering Unique Selling Proposition is a straightforward process.

By defining all the USPs of your offerings(promises), along with your brand core values, you will be able to define a more structured Value Proposition for long-term strategic direction. 

  • Analyze the competition space

    Try to identify whether or not your direct competitors are operating according to established values and USP. Is there anything they are doing that offers you an opportunity or space to establish a more dominant set of values or even the same value with different USPs? Look at what other businesses in your industry are offering and how they are positioning themselves.

  • Define Audience

    Define your target audience: Identify the specific group of customers you want to target with your product or service.
    Create a Matrix with a set of three variables:

    1. Target Audience
    2. Core Value / Motivational Driver
    3. Channel / Context

    In every intersection, decide if the triplets is valuable audience option for your organization

  • Identify your customer benefits and unique selling points

    Determine what makes your product or service different and better than the competition. Consider factors such as quality, price, features, and customer service. Isolate distinctive traits of your offering, which may not be in direct correlation with your product, rephrase those from a customer benefit point of view.
    Choose your selling points accordingly with your strategic plan and the benefits you can promise.

  • Craft the Unique Selling Proposition

    Use your unique selling points to create a clear, concise statement that explains the benefits of your product or service to your target audience. Always use Core Values as a starting points and again check their consistency with your final output.
    Avoid being generic: an USP should be specific, remember you will always have the chance to evolve and change it over time, you don't have only one shot to get it right to the market!

  • Implement the USP

    Test your USP with a small group of customers to see if it resonates with them. Use their feedback to refine and improve your USP as needed.
    Use your USP in all marketing materials: Once you have a strong USP, use it consistently in all of your marketing materials, including your website, social media, and advertising. This will help to differentiate your business from the competition and attract the right customers.


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To design your Unique Selling Proposition, you need to deeply understand the benefits you can provide to your audience. A simple tool to help you “make order” is the Benefit Hierarchy and its evolutions, such as the Benefit Ladder.

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