Tech companies often attempt to duplicate other sensational websites or brands, hoping to achieve the same success. While it’s beneficial to implement a proven business model and stay up-to-date with emerging trends, it’s also crucial to incorporate elements that differentiate your company. Succeeding in today’s crowded digital marketplace is all about building a unique selling point (USP).

The most useful question to ask when defining your brand’s USP is, “What do we do that sets us apart from our competitors?” Let’s take Zappos, for example. The company started as a shoe superstore, but has now branched off into other product lines. Zappos’ USP is built on superior customer service through its “family core values.” They reinforce the message of superior customer service in every step of the shopping experience — including 24/7 customer support, free shipping both ways, and a 365-day return policy.

Another online retailer that stands out is Warby Parker, an eyewear boutique with a “rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point.” They sell vintage prescription eyewear starting at $95. Customers can choose five styles to try for five days and keep their favorite pair. Plus, for every pair purchased, Warby Parker sends a pair of glasses to someone in need.

I’ve created a nine-step checklist to help tech companies properly configure USPs. After analyzing hundreds of top brands, I’ve found that most had these qualities in common:

  1.  Positivity: The message tied to your brand should be confident and optimistic.
  2.  Customer-centric: Your USP should speak to the customer and how she can benefit from your product or service.
  3. Empowering: Strive to inspire your clients.
  4. Self-explanatory: Define yourself with a straightforward name, logo, and tagline.
  5.  Specificity: Less is more. Be particular about what you’re selling and whom you’re selling it to.
  6. Core: What’s at the heart of your business? What makes you who you are?
  7.  Relevancy: Understand your market. Why do your customers need your brand?
  8.  Long-Lasting: Strong brands have timeless names and messaging.
  9.  Differentiated: Why should people rely on your brand, instead of others in the industry?

Brainstorming sessions are great ways to develop your USP. There’s no such thing as a bad idea. Create a list of potential messages, and then decide how each measures up on the USP checklist.

Of course, there will always be exceptions to the rule. Most brands can’t fulfill all nine qualities, but the more, the better. For instance, if your name doesn’t explain what you do, your tagline should.

Typically, USPs with a direct and positive message will have the most success. Most importantly, however, you must perform market research. Survey those people who are part of your target demographic. Let the customer tell you what he wants. This isn’t a guessing game.

It’s crucial that your entire company embody your USP. It’s more than just your logo and name; the customer experience is significant, too. From your initial advertisement to your website’s landing page, every aspect of your customer experience should be consistent with your brand.

Peter Nguyen is President of Literati Institute, the leading Internet marketing private training program created to help people launch their own products or services online. Peter is an entrepreneurial thought leader and one of the foremost authorities in Internet marketing. He has created several multi-million-dollar Internet campaigns and is the creator of Advertiser360, which is now being taught at the second-ranked entrepreneurship university in the U.S. He welcomes anyone to reach out to him @peternguyen.

This article is published on March 08, 2013 on and Peter Nguyen thoughts on Selling your Brand.