8 Effective Branding Tips to Create an Amazing Brand

Branding is one of those terms that’s thrown around a lot but doesn’t get applied properly.

People mostly focus on the logos, colors, and slogans of a company.

While these are important, they’re not the core elements of your brand.

Take Coke or Pepsi as an example. Even if you don’t like the drinks, you likely know what the logo looks like, the colors, and the overall message.

Unfortunately, Coke has been around for a hundred years and has tens of thousands of employees which makes it a poor role model. I’m guessing you don’t billions of dollars to play with or millions to spend on lead gen and figuring it out.

Small business branding tips need to be more actionable and realistic. That’s why, in this post, the branding tips will focus on the things you can do to make your mark in the mind of your customers.

Let’s dive in.

Decided on a stance

Branding has become more than bombarding your potential customers with the same messages over and over again. That worked 50 years ago.

Now, your customers want to patronize brands that have a larger mission or stand for something they also believe in. You don’t have to want to end global warming single-handedly. You do need to choose whether or not to use green products.

In our day and age, that stance is sustainability. Either you’re using sustainable practices and techniques or you’re not.

Don’t think this is just a branding tip that’s a bit gimmicky. It makes business sense as well. 66% of consumers and 77% of millennials will pay a premium for products that come from sustainable businesses.

Alabama Chanin is a women’s fashion brand that infuses its branding with messages around sustainability. It uses 100% organic seed fabric and reclaimed materials to make its collections.

Alabama chanin branding tips

It continues with the same message on its Instagram page.

I’m not telling you to go out and change all of your processes so you can say you’re a sustainable business. What’s more important is choosing what you stand for and what you don’t stand for. You can’t please everyone so focus on aligning yourself with the people you want to have the most impact on.

Communicate it clearly

A common problem with many businesses – both large and small – is effectively communicating their message. They use industry jargon, long-winded statements, and outlandish claims. While this looks good on paper, it doesn’t help get your point across.

Don’t try to be the biggest, best, or cleverest. Instead, strive for clarity. If it can be said in two words then don’t use twenty.

Words aren’t the only part of communicating your brand and goals. You can and should use visual elements as well. It’s been said that images speak a thousand words so it makes sense to use them strategically throughout your branding.

The imagery you choose should make your brand more identifiable and support the messages you create.

Trussle illustrations branding tips

Trussle uses illustrations and a well-defined color palette to support its messaging. It also extends to its social media accounts.

On the KyLeads homepage, we use a clear message that quickly communicates what we do.

KyLeads homepage

If that’s not something you’re interested in then there’s no need for you to continue reading. If it is, you know you’re in the right place.

Create a narrative

This is an important branding tip that many people struggle with.

Books will always sell and movies will always make money. It’s because they tell a story. They create a cohesive narrative that we can follow and place ourselves inside of.

This isn’t an accident.

Researchers in Spain found that stories activate the language parts of our brain as well as the parts associated with performing the activities described in the story.

That means our brains are almost as active when listening to a story as they would be when experiencing it in real life.

Unlock the same effect by creating a compelling story and overall narrative for your brand. Instead of focusing your product pages on why you’re superior, tell the story behind the company, the products, and the people that work there every day.

Beardbrand communicates its roundabout beginning and the reason why the company means so much to the founders. At the same time, it shares some of the ups and downs the team experienced and their commitment to their community.

This story informs the ways they go about creating products, marketing themselves, and interacting with their customers.

Develop a brand voice

There are many types of brand voices. Corporate and formal, irreverent and sporty, or friendly and authoritative. These may work for you but it may not help you stand out from the countless companies you’re competing with.

That’s not a good thing.

Your brand voice is the way you communicate with your target audience whether you’re on social media, sending out emails, or writing articles. It should be consistent across all channels.

There are a few qualities the best ones have.

  • Speaks to the target audience
  • Can be easily personified
  • Is consistent

The last part is arguably the most important. Your brand voice should remain the same across different mediums so customers can easily identify you.

One of my favorite examples of a compelling brand voice comes from Frank Body.

It talks to a specific demographic group and is irreverent. The team behind it loses no sleep when they tread on a few toes because it’s not meant to be for everyone. They know their audience and talk to them alone. They get bonus points for mentioning their ethical practices.

The Middle Finger Project is another brand with a strong voice. The founder is irreverent, focused on a core demographic, and makes no apologies.

Focus on the long term

In our quest to win right now, it’s easy to lose sight of how our actions will affect us down the line. Will your branding and initiatives be relevant 20 years from now or will you have to rebrand every three years (or more).

Think of it like buying an expensive trench coat from Burberry. You invest a lot in it so you want it to last for a reasonable amount of time.

This trench coat from the ’60s would still look good today.

burberry 1960 branding tips

Not much different from the trench coats from today is there?

Your core brand should be the same way. Of course, it may be updated every now and then but the essence of what makes you who you are should stand the test of time.

Always be consistent

This branding tip is pervasive. If you do nothing else right, be consistent.

Be consistent with your imagery.

Be consistent with your voice.

Create consistent messages. That doesn’t mean spitting out the same phrase wherever you go. It means ensuring that no matter how you say it, you communicate the same message.

Another benefit of consistency is being able to understand what your brand is all about without too much effort. If you come off as different on social media, ads, and your website then it’ll leave your prospects confused.

Let’s say that someone bumps into your post on Facebook, finds their way to your website, and then hears about you on Twitter. If your messages are aligned and harmonized then this will work towards moving them down your funnel. If they’re not then it’ll hurt their perception of you.

The fashion brand, Everlane, does a good job of creating a consistent message and imagery across multiple channels. On the website, it talks about radical transparency and uses a muted color scheme.

Transparency.

Quality.

It’s simple to do this on a website because it’s usually the same person or team. What about their other social channels.

On Instagram, we see more of the same. Transparency and muted tones. They regularly schedule Instagram posts that advance the same branding narrative.

On Twitter, it continues the consistent brand elements with more transparency and muted colors.

 

Focus on your core audience

This branding tip will save you a lot of time and energy. The larger a company gets, the more diverse its customer base. That means you have people from all over the world and from different demographic and psychographic groups patronizing you.

If you try to create messages that appeal to all of them, you’ll most likely fall flat on your face. The largest brands do this with localization when they enter new markets.

As long as you have a single core segment that makes up the majority of your income, focus on pleasing them – not the rest of the world.

Your messages will match their expectations and it’ll be easier to appeal to them.

ConvertKit, a popular email marketing service focused on a narrow audience segment for a long time.

It has since updated its branding but this is how it scaled to millions in ARR.

Avoid being a me-too brand

The last branding tip is one that seems obvious but is a trap many businesses fall into. They end up sounding like everyone else in their space.

This is how it (usually) goes. An entrepreneur enters a niche and has the skills needed to deliver the core product. They look at branding as an afterthought and adopt a lot of the messages they see their competitors use.

If they’re successful then it must be working – right?

Well yes, it works for them but your customer profile is different so those messages will seem off and uninspired to the viewer.

That’s not a good thing.

This also follows on the heels of focusing on your core audience. If you don’t know who you’re servicing then your brand can’t appeal to their specific wants and needs. Take the time to learn more about your customers and what they truly care about.

Conclusion

Branding tips for small businesses is a huge topic that can never be fully covered in a single article. The main goal of this post has been to give you branding tips you can start implementing today.

Almost all of them should apply to your situation now or in the future so take them to heart. If you have a brand already then evaluate it and see where you’re lacking (or crushing it).

If you’re just getting started then make the right moves now and avoid the pitfalls in the future.

Let me know what your favorite branding tips are in the comments and don’t forget to share.

Product differentiation: What It Is And How To Use It To Explode Growth

Having a good product is nice.

A unique product is better.

A good product that’s also unique is like winning the lottery.

Amazing things happen.

They might as well stick an “S” on your chest.

Today, I’m going to touch on a topic I have a soft spot for – product differentiation.

Product differentiation (coupled with solid branding) is why people choose Levi jeans over the jeans you can get at Walmart.

Sure, they do the same thing but it’s a different product entirely.

In this article, you’ll learn about product differentiation, the different types, and methods you can use to implement it in your business.

What is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is a process used in marketing that identifies and communicates the unique value a product or brand brings to the table when compared to competitors.

This is not to be confused with a value proposition which communicates your overarching promise.

Beardbrand positions their products with a specific product ethos.

It mentions its philosophy as well as the difference between Beardbrand and similar competitors. It resonates with a certain group of people who then become devoted customers.

When product differentiation is done properly, it becomes a competitive advantage for you. You’re then able to foster brand loyalty and even charge more.

That’s why Rolex can charge a few thousand dollars for a watch and other brands are stuck fighting over $100 sales.

Advantages of product differentiation

It’s nice to have a differentiated product.

It gives you the ability to say “we’re the only ones that do x.”

More than being fun, it has a positive business impact. If you’re able to tap into and take advantage of those factors then you’ll increase revenue many times over.

It prevents you from being another faceless product in the sea of choice.

Increased value to customers

Product differentiation can focus on many factors your customers find important. When your differentiation strategy focuses on the value you deliver such as durability or long term cost savings, it increases the perceived value among customers and potential customers.

You can focus on the initial selling price and why it’s a bit more expensive than what’s on the market, added enhancements, or even lifecycle benefits.

For example, solar panel installation is expensive but in the long run, you’ll save money. Since consumers are saving money, they’re more willing to pay a higher amount on the front end.

No longer compete on price

This is one of the most important advantages of product differentiation. You no longer have to compete in a race to the bottom with similar brands.

For example, a shoe company can differentiate its shoes from other brands in terms of use case and durability. Jordan’s are a great example. It has developed a cult-like following over the years through superior craftsmanship, specialty uses, and limited edition releases.

The shoes below retailed for over $100 in 2008. I know because I happily bought a pair when they first came out.

Better brand recall and loyalty

Since you’re delivering value to customers instead of competing on price, the ones who choose you the first time are more likely to continue choosing you. That’s because it was a conscious decision to buy a more expensive product that provided more value.

They remember you and come back time and again.

The only prerequisite is that you maintain the initial quality they received. When you find yourself in a competitive market, any slip in quality may result in lost customers.

For example, if you’ve made a reputation for yourself as a company that delivers superior underwear in terms of fit, feel, and materials then people come to know you for that. If the quality slips, they’ll find a company that meets or exceeds the quality they’re used to.

No substitute

When your product differentiation strategy focuses on design or build quality then there is no real substitute for what you offer. At least, that’s the perception in your customer’s mind.

Yes, there may be other well-designed products but none are quite like yours. For example, Apple phones and computers have a unique design. It’s believed that no other company has such a recognizable signature look and feel.

Apple also did a good job of making consumers feel like the computer itself is superior (it is in some ways but falls flat in other areas). That’s why this computer starts at $1,300.

Types of product differentiation

There are three major types of product differentiation you can use as part of your strategy. The one you choose depends on your product and how well your consumers understand it.

For example, it would be much easier to understand product differentiation between jeans than enterprise analytics software.

Vertical product differentiation

This is when consumers are able to look at two differentiated products and compare them on a single factor. With this type of product, consumers are clear on the quality because it’s a well-defined product category.

For example, consumers are clear on the quality of shoes, clothes, and certain electronics. These would be vertically differentiated.

When a customer encounters two similar products they can compare them and say “Product A is better than Product B.”

In the fashion industry, there are countless types of shoes, shirts, and any other apparel you can think of. There are also countless price points which are set based on countless differentiation factors. With that being said, a customer can easily say Gucci is better than Toms, but the conclusion is subjective.

This white t-shirt costs a few dollars:

This one costs a couple hundred dollars:

Why?

Vertical product differentiation.

Vertical product differentiation is for products that can be classed as low quality or high quality by the average consumer.

Horizontal product differentiation

This type of differentiation happens when the product is harder to classify because it’s comprised of many features. Due to the complexity of the product, one or two characteristics are chosen as a way to compare and differentiate.

Consumers aren’t 100% sure about the quality of different products in the category.

For example, two foreign dishes served at a restaurant. There are many features that make the dish such as presentation, texture, ingredients, etc. but the consumer will likely focus on overall taste when making a decision. Even though they make a clear choice, they can’t say which dish is superior.

Horizontal differentiation is for products that can’t be classed as high quality and low quality to the average consumer.

Simple/mixed differentiation

As the name implies, this type of differentiation takes elements from both vertical and horizontal differentiation.

This happens when consumers are looking at more complicated products. An example would be software. There are countless features bundled up in software and a consumer will look at the core features and a few additional features when making their choice.

Vertical differentiation may occur in the main features but horizontal differentiation occurs with the less important features.

Methods of product differentiation

Product differences are usually minor. At their core, products in one category are the same.

That means the differences between one product and another don’t have to be physical characteristics or true features. It could be the product packaging, the way it’s advertised, who it’s pitched to, etc.

This section focuses on the ways you can implement product differentiation.

Quality

This is what most people think of when they hear the term product differentiation. It’s a tried and tested path to setting your products apart from the competition.

Quality allows you to charge a higher price point and attract better customers. At the same time, that quality needs to remain consistent or improve over time to keep customers happy.

Customer attracted to quality tend to be more discerning and are willing to pay a premium.

Customer service

You can almost never go wrong if you deliver superior customer service. You can sell a product that’s the same quality as your competitors but people will continue to choose you because of great service delivery.

One of the best examples of this is Zappos. It’s a shoe retailer with a generous shipping and returns policy. It also holds the record for one of the longest customer service calls ever made.

It’s not a marketing gimmick, Zappos has interwoven customer service into the fabric of its organization and was bought by Amazon for just under $1 billion because of it.

Price

I’m not a fan of competing on price if it’s a race to the bottom. Penetration pricing can trigger a price war where everyone loses.

The companies involved in the price war lose.

The consumers lose because brands may go out of business when they can’t compete.

Instead, choose a premium price point. You’ll attract better customers and have to sell fewer products to achieve the same revenue. In addition to that, you’ll keep more of the profits.

Design

It took a while but companies have finally woken up to the power of design in products and services. McKinsey found that companies which embraced design and made it part of their product strategy increased revenue nearly 2x as fast as companies who ignored design.

Design doesn’t mean your product needs to be elaborate. It can mean it works intuitively, is pleasant to look at, or evokes certain emotions.

Take these two images as an example:

That is not how a vase usually looks.

(Image source)

This is not how a chair is supposed to look.

Because of the novel design, it’s differentiated from any other product on the market and will attract a lot of interest (and possibly sales).

There are countless examples of design playing a prominent role in product differentiation.

Another one that comes to mind is Juicero. Though the company eventually closed its doors for other reasons, it had a great product design. People paid $400 a pop for this juicer.

Juicero product differentiation based on design

Benefits

What is the Promised Land your product gets people to?

At KyLeads, we help you understand your audience, generate leads, and segment those leads. All this is so you can send better messages that compel people to buy.

Louis Vuitton helps you get fly and lends you a certain amount of status. BMW is a luxury car brand that helps you get from Point A to Point B while projecting wealth and prestige.

What benefits do your products give your customers? What problems do you solve? Show the value you bring to the table over competitors.

Distribution channels

Where you spread your message (or don’t spread it) can also be an effective product differentiation strategy. For example, if you’re a luxury resort, you may advertise in specific magazines and ignore others entirely.

Some companies advertise strictly on adult websites while others wouldn’t be caught dead there. Some companies can only reach their target market through newspapers so they ignore YouTube, Facebook, Google Ads, etc.

Choose your distribution channels based on the image you want to portray and where you’ll find your customers.

Conclusion

Product differentiation is essential if you want to stand out in a crowded market.

It has many benefits and, when used right, will allow you to command a premium price point, build brand loyalty, and ensure you’re attracting the right customers.

Choose the type of product differentiation you’ll use then focus on one of the methods mentioned in the article. When you start to see success, layer other methods on until you’re truly unique in your market.

Let me know what you think about product differentiation in the comments and don’t forget to share.

How to Craft a Damn Good Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Here’s a quick question. As soon as someone lands on your websites do they know what you’re all about? Do they have to continue scrolling or read the copy to figure it out?

If they can’t figure it out immediately then your unique value proposition (UVP) isn’t doing its job.

A UVP should:

  • Let them know how your product solves their problem.
  • Show the quantified value
  • Illustrate why you’re better than the competition and therefore receive my hard earned cash.

It’s like a condensed elevator pitch.

A drive-by pitch (I chuckled when I wrote that).

A great value proposition is able to communicate the main benefit of using your solution over the competitions.

In this article, we’ll take a deep look at the steps needed to create a Killer UVP.

Your UVP taps into existing desires

You and I don’t create motivation on our websites.

We don’t create desire (according to Eugene Schwartz in Breakthrough Advertising).

We don’t create need.

The only thing we do is tap into it.

We channel it.

We amplify the motivations, needs, and desires already present.

You can build on them to create something even more powerful. It’s not created out of thin air.

So who creates motivation that makes your UVP shine?

Motivations are created by society, marketing, family, friends, PR, propaganda, and many other factors. When you understand those motivations — when you’ve done the research — you can piggyback off of it.

Your value proposition is a reflection of the motivations, desires, and needs of your audience. It also encompasses how you’re going to make them a reality.

That’s why you do research before you get to this point.

Your unique value proposition is the first thing most people see when they land on your website. It can be defined as:

A unique value proposition is a clear statement that reflects your audience’s motivations, explains how you, your product, or service solves their problems, and lets your ideal customer know why they should buy from you.

Your UVP has a lot of work to do.

Setting yourself up for a compelling UVP

There are a few preliminary criteria before you jump into writing a compelling UVP.

The value proposition should never be written in marketing speak.

  • World class leader in x
  • Setting the industry standard for x
  • A purveyor of best practices for x industry over the last 50 years

All of these are marketese. They don’t help the person viewing it determine how the hell you’re going to help them solve a real problem.

A value proposition is not:

We make widgets that increase the connectivity throughout the system to ensure maximum output and interlinking capabilities for better digital transfer.

Translation: Widgets that make calls clearer.

Run from marketese.

Run from useless grammar.

Your aim is to communicate and convince. Not to show them you know how to speak English.

The elements of a UVP

A unique value proposition has a few moving parts.

Headline: This is the big promise. You tell your customer what they stand to gain from signing up, reading your content, buying your products and services, or just following you around the internet. You can mention the product or the person you’re targeting here.

Subheadline: This is 1-3 short specific sentences that does one of two things:

  1. Further iterate the benefits.
  2. Further explain what you offer.

Bullets: List out the primary benefits of your solution (a rule of thumb is no more than 5 bullets, but test it).

Visuals: Images help us imagine what the “big promise” of the value proposition means in our lives. A hero image, in action image, or graphic image work well.

How does your current Value proposition measure up?

  • Does it have a compelling “big promise” your ideal customer instantly understands?
  • Does it speak to a particular group of people?
  • Does it incorporate at least 3 of the 4 elements that make a great value proposition (headline, sub head, bullets, and hero image)?
  • Is it specific?
  • Is it free of marketing jargon like “world class” “industry leader” or “innovate?”
  • What is your unique angle?

So, a good value proposition is:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Illustrates your unique difference
  • Communicates the end result of your product, service, or message.

How to craft a winning value proposition

If a visitor stays on your website for more than a minute, you’re doing something right.

You’ll spend a lot of time and energy driving clicks to your website through social media, SEO, advertising, and other methods.

Once there, they’ll meet your headline.

What is your headlines job?

Yes, it can convey the benefits of your product/service. Yes, it can show your visitor how you’re different. Yes, it can communicate your big promise.

It can do all these things but that’s not its real job. Its real job is to make people so interested in what you’re offering they read the next line.

Let me repeat that.

Your headline should be so compelling that it gets your visitor to read the next line.

Your subheadline should get them to read the line after that.

Your bullet should get them to read the line after that. On and on until they’ve gotten beyond your value proposition, are in the body copy, and have finished the last word on the page.

If the UVP isn’t read then it’s all for naught

If no one reads the next sentence then all the time you’ve spent fighting to create a value proposition is lost.

Not to mention the time you spent creating everything else on the page. Understand, the only purpose of each line is to be so compelling that the one after it has to be read.

While they’re reading, your message will jump out.

Now, Back to The Big Promise

The headline of your UVP is the big promise. It’s what you can do for your customers and what they can expect from you. In essence, it’s how you position yourself in the market. Unlike some titles in blog posts that can be curious, click bait, or resemble a news headline, the value proposition must be clear.

  • If it’s not clear, no one knows what you do
  • Without clarity, no one will stick around
  • If it’s not clear, you’re wasting your time and your visitor’s time

A clear headline has your unique promise. By unique, I don’t mean you need to be the only one in the world with that promise. I mean you need to be the only one in your customer’s mind that can do what you – and do it well.

The value proposition doesn’t start with you; it starts with your customer.

Sure, 30 people offer fitness services in the metro Atlanta area. Your unique value proposition can focus on how you offer a bespoke fitness service for busy executives so that they can….

Fill in the blank.

Being unique in something your customer doesn’t care about or something that doesn’t have utility is just as bad as not being unique at all.

“The inner lining of our pants are green.”

And so bloody what?

Conversions don’t happen in a dead space in the world. They happen in the minds of individuals.

Finding The “Unique” of your Unique Value Proposition

What pains and objections are your customers repeating on Amazon, forums, Reddit, and every other place you’ve checked?

Why do they want to alleviate that pain?

What benefits are they happy they’ve been able to receive while interacting with the products, services, and messages being used in your niche?

Here are a few examples from a quick search through Amazon.

Just from these Amazon reviews, I can see messages I can work into my headline. Messages people care about.

  • Easy workouts
  • Not time-consuming
  • Foods to eat and not to eat
  • Meal plans
  • No more dieting
  • Simple way to measure food servings for protein, fat, and carbs
  • Well researched
  • Prefer videos
  • Bodybuilding without weights

These messages can become a part of your big promise — your headline — and many of the others can become the subhead and the bullets of your value proposition — on to that in a moment.

Go through your data and reevaluate what people say they want and already have.

Now, move on to what your competitors are talking about and showing their customers.

Are they emphasizing the same things you picked up in your review mining? Can you do it better than them?

Can you do it in a slightly different way?

Can you target a different segment?

Your big promise isn’t something you rush into because it’ll determine the direction you take for the next few weeks, months, and even years.

It’s a combination of what you can give and what they want.

Take your time. You only need one big idea.

The Subheading and Bullets

After you figure out a concise headline that’s done its main action — resonate with visitors enough to get them to read the next line — it’s time to create a stunning subhead that follows up.

The subheadline can take one of two forms.

  1. Can show off benefits
  2. Can further explain what you offer

Let’s look at benefits.

A common thread you’ll see on many websites is confusing features with benefits and listing fake benefits.

What’s a fake benefit you ask?

A fake benefit is something that seems useful on the surface but actually isn’t.

“Lose weight naturally!”

There’s no true benefit therein.

Clayton Makepeace — an amazing copywriter — prescribes a simple test he calls the “forehead slap” test. Have you ever stopped what you’re doing, slapped yourself on the forehead, and exclaimed: “I need to lose weight naturally!”

You probably never will.

Getting me or anyone else to buy that is going to be tough — really tough.

Nobody really wants to lose weight for the sake of losing weight. The real power behind that statement is what can happen if you don’t stay in good shape. Public ridicule, lower self-esteem, premature death, predisposition to diabetes which comes with its own host of problems, hypertension, increased risk of stroke, cancer, blindness, kidney disease, heart attack, etc etc.

An overweight person wants to avoid the dangerous complications associated with obesity. That’s the real benefit of the fitness program or dieting regime being offered.

Features Vs Benefits

Features and benefits can be hard to sort out and easy to confuse — especially when you’re close to the message or product being sold.

Features are facts about what you’re offering.

Benefits are the ways it helps your customers.

A good portion of your time will be spent educating your customers on what you’re offering and how it can make their lives better.

Sure, they know they need to lose weight, but they don’t know why you’re the best person for the job.

Take off the glasses of the creator and put on the glasses of your customer and ask yourself “and so what?” about every benefit and feature you think you have.

Imagine you’re selling laptops and one of the features of is a 1 terabyte hard disc. It’s a feature because it’s a fact about the laptop you’re selling.

The laptop has 1 terabyte of hard disc space.

And so what?

So you can store more things.

And so what?

Life is less stressful, you don’t have to worry about what you download or store because there’s enough space to accommodate it. Take as many pictures, record as many videos, and install as many games as you want knowing your laptop will always have room for more.

Let’s keep going.

The chairs have a reinforced steel frame.

And so what?

No matter how much weight you put on it, your chair will keep your loved ones secure.

Our shirts or made with patented stain resistant fibers.

And so what?

Your life becomes easier because you won’t have to worry about your children messing up their clothes five minutes after being dressed.

Real Benefits Connect Desires

The real benefits to your customer mirror their desires, wants, and needs. Saving time, cutting costs, making money, becoming healthier, and being happier all qualify.

When you know the real desires of your customers, you can write a string of benefits that work every time.

When you don’t know the desires of your customers, your benefits will seem hollow and uninspired.

That’s why you’ve done the research.

That’s why you’ve picked out their exact words.

That’s why you took the time to figure out their real objections.

Go through your research and figure out what your customers really want — listen to what they’re telling you. At the same time, look at the benefits your competition is offering your customers for choosing them.

Look for ways to structure your message so it taps into their deepest desires.

Perform the “and so what” test on every benefit you list in your subheadings and bullets to make sure it’s filling a real need/desire.

When you’re done, the subheadline will be a short, powerful, benefit-driven sentence. Your bullets will continue that interaction.

Let’s talk about that hero image

Is a hero image strictly necessary? No, it’s not.

Does a hero image help? Yes, it does.

The hero image is usually the first thing someone sees when they land on your page. It sets the tone for the rest of the interaction with your website. It tells a story.

If your hero image shows class and sophistication that’s what they’ll expect throughout your website. If your hero image has a playful edge then that’s what they’ll expect throughout your website.

Here are a few tips to help you make or choose a better hero image.

1.     Show them where to look.

Directional cues have been used for a long time in advertisements. Countless studies have shown that we tend to follow the gaze of people we’re looking at. Use a photo or image that points your customers in the direction of your UVP. People work best but arrows and other directional cues are still effective.

Fashion Metric, an analytics agency that caters to fashion ecommerce brands, uses this approach well. Notice how the lady is looking at her tablet which happens to be blocked by their value proposition.

The proposition could be clearer.

 

2.     Let the Image Support Your Value Proposition

Your promise to the people visiting the page should be supported by the elements and images on that page. It’s shouldn’t overpower it. A hero image can mirror the exact statement of your value proposition.

For example: if you’re a fitness trainer, a hero image of people in action at the gym or obviously healthy smiling people would be in line with what you’re promising.

I have no idea what the value proposition is but the image makes it clear that they make fit people happy. They get points for using directional cues.

3.     Emotions

An emotional appeal, used the right way, can almost never go wrong. A thick, guttural, emotional reaction will entice visitors to stay on the page and find out more.

Another benefit of an emotional image is quickly showing the world — and your customers — who you’re serving.

4.     Bold Colors

Nothing grabs attention like the right colors. You have your brand colors and then you have complimentary colors. Switch it up here and use a color that contrasts sharply with the one’s you’ve chosen for your brand.

Conversely, you can choose a plain color background that puts more emphasis on the message of your value proposition.

The green against the muted background begs to be clicked and interacted with.

5.     Illustrations

Your hero image doesn’t have to be a picture. You can use illustrations to set yourself apart. They’re harder to get right and usually require a deeper understanding of the people you’re serving.

Just make sure your illustration doesn’t overpower the message of your value proposition but rather compliments it and you’ll be fine.

6.     Show your customers themselves

If you know your customer is a young college student, a hero image of young college students works well to reinforce that.

Grain and Mortar does a good job of letting you know real people — normal people — are behind the spectacular results they achieve for their clients. This is a hero image of people who aren’t heroes at all.

 A few Things to consider for your UVP

Your hero image is there to compliment your unique value proposition, not overpower it. Let’s dive into some things you should always keep in mind when choosing a hero image.

  • Subject and Text Placement

There are a few ways you can use a hero image on your page. Subject left aligned, subject right aligned, and no subject. Let’s look at each one in turn.

  • Subject left aligned. The hero image is pushed to the left and the text is on the right. Usually, the text will also be left aligned — not a must — to keep the overall balance on point.

  • Subject right aligned. This is the exact opposite of the subject left aligned. The images are on the right and the text is on the left. The text itself can be right or left aligned.

 

  • No Subject. No subject seems to be the most popular type of hero image and it’s easy to see why. This keeps the messaging front and center and truly makes the image complementary to the value proposition.
  • Contrast

No matter which type of image alignment or hero image format you’ve chosen, there needs to be contrast. There’s nothing worse than people struggling to see what you’ve written.

If possible, add an opaque overlay or slightly blur the background image so you’ll be able to see the text more clearly. I know it’s going to sound obvious — use dark text on light backgrounds and light text on dark backgrounds.

If you’re ever in doubt about the readability, change the image. As far as where to source your image, I suggest you take one or design one yourself.

If neither of these are an option, you can use a stock photo service, but avoid the free ones. Shell out the few dollars it’ll cost for a compelling image.

Why? Because people in the same space browse the same websites and you don’t want your hero image to be the same image someone else has used as a featured image for one of their blog posts.

Now it’s your turn, sit down and think about the message you want your hero image to deliver and the type of images that’ll embody that. Once you’ve gotten an idea, capture it yourself with your camera or design it.

If those options aren’t viable, go to a premium stock photo site like Fotolia or Shutterstock and browse their library for something you can use.

Examples of Unique Value Propositions

Stripe

What is the company selling? Web and mobile payments platform.

What is the benefit of using it? It lets you easily accept and manage your online payments.

Who is the target customer? It’s been built for developers and businesses that know a thing or two about technology.

What makes the offering different? They start out with tons of API’s so you — as a developer — can easily integrate it with custom payment solutions you’re using in your business.

Bonus The two mobile phones have the apps of two well-known Stripe customers for a bit of subliminal social proof.

Dollar Shave Club

What is the company selling? Shaving supplies.

What is the benefit of using it? Blades and other accessories delivered directly to you.

Who is the target customer? It doesn’t explicitly say it, but it should be men (for something as universal as shaving, it’s not necessary to be so explicit).

What makes the offering different? It’s incredibly cheap. If you’re a guy, you know how much it can cost to buy good razors. On top of that, they’re delivering it to your doorstep.

Vimeo

Vimeo UVP example

What is the company selling? Video hosting platform.

What is the benefit of using it? No ads (like YouTube), strong community, privacy for your videos.

Who is the target customer? People who create videos, but there’s a catch. You agree to “make life worth watching,” not to spam the platform with dozens of cat videos. You can go to YouTube for that.

What makes the offering different? They don’t have an advertising model so you watch only what you want to watch. Another benefit, which you can infer from the value proposition, is a community of high-quality creators.

Freshbooks

What is the company selling? Small Business Accounting Software.

What is the benefit of using it? Made for small business owners who’ve not gotten a degree in accounting. Simplicity

Who is the target customer? Service-based small businesses.

What makes the offering different? Built exclusively for service-based businesses as opposed to anyone and everyone that needs accounting software.

Bonus Great hero image showing the type of people who’re using the software.

Tortuga Backpacks

What is the company selling? Traveling backpacks.

What is the benefit of using it? You can carry everything you need without extra luggage.

Who is the target customer? Travelers.

What makes the offering different? That’s where it gets dicey. It’s not exactly clear how they are different from other backpack companies.

Skillshare

What is the company selling? Online creative courses.

What is the benefit of using it? Large library of courses to learn a new skill at your own pace.

Who is the target customer for this product or service? People who want to learn new skills but can’t (or don’t) want to commit to a physical location.

What makes the offering different from competitors? It specifies that you’re going to be learning creative skills. Not accounting, not financial planning, and not fundamentals of engineering.

Bonus: They use a background video that shows people learning and practicing their newfound skills.

Zapier

What is the company selling? A way to connect the apps you use.

What is the benefit of using it? Automate tasks that would otherwise be repetitive and utilize your data more efficiently.

Who is the target customer for this product or service? People who want to be more efficient with their apps. Anyone who uses more than six apps has had the trouble of organizing all that information and would love to connect them and make it easier to manage.

What makes the offering different from competitors? Instead of offering another app, it’s a way to connect your apps through one app. On top of that, many of the functions are automatic.

Conclusion

You’re equipped with all the information you need to make a truly powerful value proposition.

  • How to create headlines that communicate your value by using your customer’s words.
  • The ins and outs of creating a powerful subheading that showcases benefits rather than features.
  • How to use bullets to engage your reader
  • The different parts of a hero image and how to choose the right one for your business.
  • Examples of companies that have made great value propositions.

The only thing left is to create a unique value proposition and test it in the wild.

Let me know what tricks and insights you use to craft a powerful UVP in the comments and don’t forget to share.

 

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