A value proposition is a simple, clear phrase meant to convey the most important benefit (or value) of buying from your brand. Your company may have one primary value proposition, or you may have many across your different product lines. Regardless of the number, it’s a slogan meant to appeal to a specific subset of customers and give them some idea of what they can expect from your product/service. It may also define what makes you different from your competitors and why a customer would choose you.
Great value propositions stick in your head and become synonymous with the brand itself. Check out these examples; we bet you’ll know what brand they’re from at a glance:
- “The Quicker Picker Upper.”
- “Think Different.”
- “Live Mas.”
- “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for It By Name.”
Clearly, a well-designed value proposition can stick in our minds and create equity for the brand in question. (The above brands, by the way, are Bounty, Apple, Taco Bell, and Meow Mix.)
But what makes a good value proposition? Let’s look at some examples in more detail.
The basics of a good value proposition.
Every value proposition should address some need that your target market experiences. Hopefully, you have some idea of what these needs are, based on your past brand strategy and marketing research. your goal is to identify one or two of these needs and reflect that in a branded slogan.
Keep in mind that this value propositions should be based on how your target market defines your value; not necessarily how you define your value. For example, consider Taco Bell’s above mantra, “Live Mas.” (Spanish for “Live More.”) Taco Bell itself might distinguish its company from competitors like Del Taco or Chipotle on its low prices, efficient supply chain, or authentic Mexican recipes. But none of these values are pushed forth in its value proposition.
Instead, the company speaks to its audience with the Live Mas mantra, offering a loftier value that promises a more upscale experience. And while plenty of people certainly shop Taco Bell for their low prices, its this aspirational ideal that helps differentiate it from similar low-budget quick service restaurants.
Be clear and direct.
At its core, a good value proposition identifies the attributes most likely to resonate with customers and explains it in a clear, memorable way. It can take many forms, depending on your company and your customers. For example, many value propositions tend to be clear and concrete:
- “Save Money. Live Better.” – Wal-Mart
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Renowned for its rock-bottom prices, Wal-Mart wants all potential customers to know that low prices are guaranteed. When you shop at Wal-Mart, you’ll save money and enjoy a higher quality of life. Other examples of this type of direct value proposition include the following:
- “Shave Time. Shave Money.” – Dollar Shave Club
- “Soup That Eats Like a Meal.” – Campbell’s
- “Share Moments, Share Life.” – Kodak
Value propositions don’t need to be direct. They can also be high-minded and aspirational:
- “Just Do It.” – Nike
As a seller of athletic goods, Nike understands that the biggest barrier to our fitness goals (and commensurately, our purchasing of the gear to take us there) is our own motivation. Its tag line is as much a call to action as it is a value proposition: Get out there and do it!
This style doesn’t mention a direct feature or function of the product. Instead, it takes a more imaginative approach and invites users to envision how great things might be with said product behind them. Some examples of aspirational value propositions include the following:
- “Maybe She’s Born With It. Maybe It’s Maybelline.” – Maybelline
- “Open Happiness.” – Coca-Cola
- “I’m Lovin’ It.” – McDonald’s
Some companies opt for value propositions that describe key features of their product or service:
- “Watch Anywhere. Cancel Anytime.” – Netflix
This value prop helps give customers some idea of what to expect when they sign up with Netflix. You can watch shows on any device, with no long-term subscriptions or contracts. These are key benefits that help differentiate Netflix from other streaming service providers in the video-on-demand space, such as Hulu (who has a rather similar brand slogan – “Anywhere, Anytime.”)
Here are a few more examples of brands with feature-oriented value propositions:
- “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.” – M&M’s
- “Can You Hear Me Now? Good.” – Verizon
- “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” – Kellogg’s
Your value proposition can evolve.
Value propositions executed well become valuable elements in your branding strategy. But like any aspect of your brand, your value proposition can evolve to address the changing dynamics of your customers. Many of the above companies went through numerous variations for each of their key value propositions before settling on a winner. And for most brands, this is the best way forward. Take stock of who your market is and what kind of message you’re trying to send. It can be direct, aspirational, feature-oriented, or any combination therein – all that matters is that it speaks to your market and clearly defines what you have to offer. With the above tips in mind, you should have no trouble coming up with a value proposition that suits your brand. But if you need guidance from an experienced branding professional to set you on the right track, contact SmashBrand and our experts will give you a hand.