5 mins

According to Seth Godin, “a brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

In this blog, we’ll explore what comprises a brand, taking a deep dive into these four essentials:

  1. The USP 
  2. The Target Audience 
  3. The Brand Story 
  4. The Visual Design 

The USP  

Your USP is a one sentence statement that you own to differentiate your brand from competitors. It sets you apart and clearly communicates a big idea so simply that any manager, executive, intern, CEO – anyone – can repeat it. It’s the core of everything you do at the moment and everything to come from your business in the future.

Car rental company Avis have done this to a tee.

Their USP is that “we’re not the best, but the second best, so we try harder.” A really powerful message and a great example of turning a negative unique point into a positive one, and communicating it to perfection.

How do you go about defining your USP? There are four steps you can take:

  • Finding a need and fulfilling it

A good example of this is the lady who invented Spanx – Sara Blakely. She actually invented the first ever pair for herself, before realising that it was something that a lot of women would want access to.

  • Specialise in a category

Elon Musk, inventor extraordinaire, specialises in sustainable electric transportation, and other initiatives that will benefit the planet, rather than manufacturing and making anything that moves.

  • A non-existing desire or a brand new solution

Usually seen through an innovation in tech, these things literally don’t exist at the moment, so we don’t know what they are. There’s the famous quote by Henry Ford where he talked about his customers and said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” A great example of innovation and how sometimes you know what a customer needs before they know themselves.

  • Experience

An example of an experience first company is Nap York, New York City’s first and only 24/7 automated sleep station offering on-demand sleep pods – a business, product and brand that is curated to deliver a unique experience.


Another method of identifying your USP and how you compare to your competitors is through perceptual mapping.

A perceptual map is a visual technique designed to show how the average target market consumer understands the positioning of the competing products in the marketplace. Typically revolving around quality vs price, you can also go a bit deeper than that, and, for example when comparing car manufacturers, position yourselves on an environmentally friendly vs luxury grid.

In a nutshell, a perceptual map basically refers to the consumers’ understanding of the competing products and their associated attributes, and where yours fits in.


Naturally, your target audience comes next. Your product or service is not designed for everyone – hopefully, through the position you take you’ll have a specific audience in mind. 

It’s essential that you understand your customers’ needs and wants. That is, after all, what marketing is all about. Understanding your audience is however a journey…a process of constant review, refinement and readjustment. Knowing your target audience helps you gain clarity, create accurate messaging, and will help to define your values and also help to inform your designs. So it’s pretty important!

Understandably given the global pandemic, consumers’ needs, motivations and behaviours have changed over the last 18 months, so you’re going to want to consider these questions at a very minimum:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What are your customers’ pain points?
  • What pain points do you solve?
  • Who needs this product or service?

Another way that you can break down your audience and identify your tribe of users is to use this matrix:


“The King died then the Queen died is a plot… the King died , then the Queen died of grief is a story”

E.M. Forster

A brand story is an emotional narrative that opens up an opportunity for your customer to resonate with your brand. Without a compelling story you are just another nameless company asking for someone’s time or money. 

Humans create narrative to give our lives meaning. We are hard wired to attach thoughts and feelings to otherwise arbitrary events. But how can you define your brand story?

  • Through a concept
  • Through a personal narrative
  • Through a manifesto


With the USP defined, the target audience identified and the brand story discovered, we now need to think about how we communicate this visually. Design helps us to communicate intangible ideas in tangible ways. Even something as small as your font can change perception.

Sarah Hyndman, a leading graphic designer, conducted a study on font influence on human perception. People involved in the study were offered the same jelly bean and simply had to eat it whilst looking at one of two fonts. One soft, one jagged. 

The results?

  • The jagged font saw a 17% increase in reported bitterness of the jelly bean
  • The soft font saw an 11% increase in the sweetness of the jelly bean

It’s amazing that something as small and “insignificant” as your font can have a massive influence on how you’re perceived.

Your brand is the most powerful marketing tool you have in your arsenal, with each of the four essentials just as important as the other.

If you’re interested in exploring your brand, undergoing a brand evolution or need help identifying your brand values, get in touch with our creative experts now.


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