Value Proposition, Positioning, and Messaging – Oh my!

Differentiating your Elevator Speech, Unique Selling Proposition, and Value Proposition

Once you know your niche, it’s time to nail down all the who’s, what’s and why’s of your branding. We’ll use one of our clients as a case study…

Elevator Speech

An Elevator Speech is a short, 1-2 sentence statement that defines who you work with (target market) and the general area in which you help them.

One of our clients is a small regional credit union. Their elevator pitch is:

“We offer a comparable array of banking services to our membership than the big banks, but with lower fees, better rates, and a personal touch.”

Unique Selling Proposition

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement about what makes you and your company different from other vendors.

The credit union’s USP sounds like this:

“Our credit union has a number of benefits over the big banks, but is also differentiated from other credit unions by a personal touch and sense of humor and authenticity with who we are.”

Value Proposition

A Value Proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services.

Their value proposition is:

“Our members enjoy the same services as people who bank with the big boys. They pay less in fees, at the same time know if they run into trouble, they can call us up and explain the situation with someone who knows them and want to help. They have the confidence that when they need to move on an opportunity, we are there ready to find a great solution for them. And, they can invite their families and co-workers to share their benefits as well.”


Nothing too complicated to understand here. Positioning is just that: your position in relation to others in your industry, and your customer’s perception of that. Companies apply this strategy either by emphasizing the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.) through advertising. Once a brand is positioned, it is very difficult to reposition it without destroying its credibility. Also called product positioning.

Our little credit union’s position would be:

“We’re as powerful and accessible as the big boys, but we are human and recognize you as a human. We know you.”


Seven Components to a Comprehensive Brand Strategy

  1. Purpose: What is your WHY, and does your visual messaging convey that?
  2. Consistency: Are you staying on topic with what your content says, as well as how it looks? Are images consistent? Same fonts throughout? Sticking with your color palette?
  3. Emotion: Is whatever you’re selling something your customers feel certain emotions about? Is it cool, does it give them pride to own it? Does it make them feel smart? Be sure to convey that in your messaging.
  4. Flexibility: It’s all about staying relevant and interesting to your audience. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition.
  5. Employee Involvement: Your brand strategy for your messaging isn’t just for your marketing department. All of your employees should have at least a surface understanding of what you want to convey and how you plan to do it. This helps keep consistency across the board, from the online ad to the company picnic flyer.
  6. Loyalty: Be sure your customers know you appreciate them – give them a reason to connect with you.. Our customers get homemade gingerbread farm animals during the holidays, because oh, how we love them so!
  7. Awareness: Keep an eye on the competition. Don’t copy their style of messaging, but make sure you know what’s going on out there, and what else your customer is seeing besides you.

How we increased loans by 9% this year!

So, how did we develop the messaging for our little credit union? It started with a lot of research into their current membership, as well as other demographics they wanted to attract. We had several discussions about what sort of styles and colors appealed to their personas, and developed a logo design that they felt conveyed better who they were. The colors were different than most banking logos, and the letter forms were streamlined, but had a friendly feel. More curves, less angles.

cecu_logoOnce we had the logo, we began designing the rest of their visual band identity; how the rest of their marketing materials would look like in various situations. At this point, the credit union was relying solely on print media to inform their membership and attract new members, which was limiting, to say the least. Because much of their current membership was between 45-85, we decided to add online and email marketing incrementally. We started redesigning their print materials alongside a refresh of their website.


Part of their original goal included beefing up their younger demographic as well. Adding online banking, remote deposit, and a number of other mobile services, as well as being sure to have a mobily responsive site, were first orders of business. Designing art to make their portals seemlessly work with their brand was critical to keeping their new brand consistent.

Once all of these basic day-to-day branded items were in place, we began to think about a year-long campaign to call attention to great low-rate loan opportunities for their  membership. The CEO realized campaigns we had run in the past that generated the most talk around the branch, among both the staff and members who came in, also generated the most revenue. In talking or laughing about the campaign, members would also learn more about the offer and get their questions answered.

CECU-2016-campaign-flyersWith this knowledge, we decided a funny, throw-back to sit-coms from the 70’s would be both nostalgic for their older members, and also interesting to millennials who are into retro shows (like the original Star Trek series). We also wanted to give the campaign a personalized feel, so we played dress-up with some of the staff. We certainly had moments where we wondered if we went too far, but from the first membership drive and auto loan campaigns, the members responded positively!