Don’t try to be different, show what you care about

Don’t try to be different, show what you care about

I’ve lost count of the number of times value propositions, positioning, and unique selling propositions have come up in my conversations with organisations.

And at the centre is usually this question: How can we make sure we’re different to everyone else?

Very few businesses are unique on any meaningful scale. The idea that every business has to have something unique to sell in order to survive and be successful is just not true. Sure, if you are exactly the same as the other guy down the road the going might be tough, but there are lots of ways to be not quite like the other guy.

And every day businesses small, medium and large operate head to head, delivering identical products and services in similar ways – I’m sure you can think or more than a few.

What is useful and necessary is to clearly articulate the value of what you do, but to add to that, the burden that it must also be unique from every other business, is perhaps a tad too much pressure for a humble message to shoulder.

The result is an endless and extremely destructive cycle of manufactured differentiation that has been systematically undermining customer confidence for decades.

Originally used to capture the benefits of products for advertising purposes, the various flavours of value propositions today too often stretch the boundaries credibility. Too many manufacture differentiation and over-hype benefits in an endless spiral of competitive one-up-man-ship that just undermines the credibility of the very organisation, product or service they are supposed to be selling.

So I want to float a different approach: the ‘what we care about proposition’. (OK, the name could use some work).

A ‘what we care about proposition’ doesn’t play the differentiation game, it demonstrates value by making a genuine promise that you know you can keep, one that will connect with people who care about the same thing.

It represents the true and deliverable value of your organisation, products and services. It aligns message propositions with actual development, operational delivery and provable results and understands that getting the customer is only the first step – keeping them is what matters most.

It is the result of the organisation getting smart and working to deeply understand its what, why and how. So if you want to build brand strength, customer loyalty and long-term trust and reputation, think about your ‘what we care about proposition’ (and maybe even try calling it that).

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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on Twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].

See you next week with (your question here).

Michel is an Independent Brand Analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at


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