What does value proposition mean in branding?

May 31, 2022

Group of people with their hands in the middle overlapping

In the world of branding, a value proposition answers two fundamental questions: “What does the company do?” and “How does it do it?” The “Why?” of the company, a concept popularised by author Simon Sinek, is the brand’s purpose and encapsulates its brand values. These are the key points that will bring a brand value proposition to life if they are well defined and help the customer understand what a brand offers.

There are many different working parts of a brand strategy that support a new brand in establishing itself. One of the most important is a value proposition. A strong value proposition commits to the brand’s target audience, identifying the pain points they seek to resolve and offering the benefits that appeal to them. Some brands struggle with this as they want to be everything to everyone. This is when the brand strategy becomes compromised.

For more established brands  that have lost their way in  a changing consumer market, it is always beneficial to reassess the brand strategy and possibly even carry out a brand refresh in a way that re-establishes the original value proposition or renews it to make it more relevant. This may then be used as part of a marketing effort to remind consumers of the brand’s identity.

How do you create a compelling value proposition?

Making the best value proposition for your company is about paying attention to the strengths of the brand and the founder (if they’re visible), rather than paying too much attention to what other brands are doing.

When Apple released its “Think Different” campaign in the 1990s, no one had seen anything like it. The campaign identified that a core value for Mac users was that they saw themselves as somehow different, they identified with those who think outside of the box (the Apple brand was nowhere near as popular as it is now). Their choice of computer reflected this. The TV advert celebrated pioneers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Silicon Valley had originally grown out of the counterculture of the 60s and Steve Jobs tapped into this essence for the brand positioning.

On signing off his company-wide memo at the time of the campaign, Jobs wrote, “Apple’s core value – that people with passion can change the world for the better, in large and small ways – is as relevant and unique today as it ever was. This campaign is very emotional for me. I hope you love it as much as I do.”

It was unique and extraordinary at the time, because the tagline did not sell the product (it didn’t even mention it), it told the ideal customer about who they were if they owned a Mac. Of all the brand value proposition examples, Apple’s is one which is consistently referred back to and yet it cannot be replicated exactly because it was so singular in its vision. What it does demonstrate is that a great value proposition comes out of a company that knows exactly who and what it is, why it exists, and for whom.

What are the benefits of a good value proposition?

Getting your company’s value proposition right can lead to:

  • A boost in conversions and leads
  • More focused marketing activities that deliver results
  • Clearer communications that speak to your target audience
  • A stronger strategy that shows the way forward
  • Better customer experience and customer services

Essentially, a great value proposition streamlines and optimises many processes throughout the company because it rules out any activities that do not fully reflect the brand. A strong brand remains true to its values and in doing so, carves out a niche in the market.

What is brand value?

If we break down brand value into cold, hard data, it is a measurement of a company’s financial worth.

Using market research and analysis that looks at direct competitors, a brand manager can come to a quantifiable figure of how much a customer is willing to pay for the brand. For this reason, any new company or startup needs to have a strong point of differentiation. Some businesses grow out of a desire to seek this specific point of differentiation, while others naturally and instinctively have it.

What are brand values?

Brand values are statements of who a brand is at its core and what will continue to matter to it regardless of trends. For example, “Integrity of ingredients” or “We believe in scientific research”.

Brand values offer a guide for the tone of voice and copywriting style of marketing campaigns and social media posts. The brand’s communications may be funny, for instance, or they may speak to an audience that is tech-savvy. These brand values – there are usually four to six of them – should ideally be communicated across all touchpoints: from the website’s homepage through to paid advertising and from the formatting of retail signage through to email template design.

The importance of digital marketing

Because most brands now exist online, digital marketing takes a precedent in communicating a brand’s unique value proposition. The overall digital marketing strategy ensures that all activities remain “on brand” and that workflows are aligned on delivering key messages and not cannibalising one another. For example, a new product campaign can eclipse an always-on brand campaign if not well coordinated.

Optimisation of websites ensures that clear messaging about the brand is always visible throughout the customer journey and that there is a call to action (CTA) on all landing pages. SEO can help the brand rank highly in Google searches for customer queries that the brand and its products or services can answer or solve. When it comes to emails, their effectiveness can be measured through A/B testing, which helps the brand understand more deeply what elicits a reaction from the customer.

Although digital marketing is important, other routes to raising brand awareness amongst potential customers can be equally valuable if they are cleverly executed. Less popular marketing and advertising channels such as OOH (out of home, for instance, on public transport) and direct marketing (sending printed material to customers’ homes) can be very effective exactly because they are utilised less and so can stand-out. 

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The marketing world is full of inspiring brand case studies, but what makes a brand a success story? An entrepreneur may know what makes their offering unique and valuable, but to be able to communicate that can take the know-how of an experienced marketing professional who can build a coherent brand value proposition.

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