Let’s get some housekeeping out of the way first. In marketing circles the term USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. This is the one thing brands must have to stand out from the competition. Walmart’s USP is EDLP (every day low price), Volvo’s is safety, etc.. Properly leveraging a USP can propel a brand, even if the USP itself isn’t good at all.
For an example of what I’m talking about consider a brand of liquor called Jeppson’s Malort. This stuff tastes bad – like Listerine mixed with Nyquil bad. Given that you’re supposed to drink the stuff you’d have to assume Malort’s bad taste would hurt sales of the product. Instead the opposite is true, thanks to Jeppson’s clever marketing of bad taste as its USP.
A few decades ago Jeppson’s effectively gave up on trying to fight the stigma of their product’s taste. Instead they embraced it with the following ad. It’s sort of a pledge of allegiance to the intestinal fortitude it takes to drink the stuff, and a celebration of the drinker strong enough to keep it down.
Since then Jeppson’s has produced hundreds of tongue-and-cheek ads poking fun at itself. In the process they’ve created a cult following (especially in Chicago), who drink Malort as if it’s a dare they have to fulfill. This goes to show that sticking with the one thing that makes you unique, even if that thing is a huge negative, can help grow a brand.
So who’s ready to raise a glass of Malort to their USP?!?