Paul Martin en Professional Branding, Branding & Social Media, Personal Branding Owner • Knackhäus 7/11/2016 · 2 min de lectura · 1,7K

Why Your Brand's Value Proposition Sucks

If you continued past the title of this post, then you’re intrigued or offended. I don’t even know you, but I can say with assurance that value propositions suck. The problem lies in those two words. Proposition sounds too much like proposal, only one of the scariest commitments imaginable. And then it reduces that to the word value, what you get from that commitment. Brands, especially startups, have the job of communicating value. It’s just rarely that simple or enough.

Value Proposition

Why Your Brand's Value Proposition SucksThe overlap of users’ wants with your offer is the value proposition.

If you’ve read online, been a part of a cohort, or just done your homework, you know what a value proposition is. You might have seen it represented this way.

The value proposition visualizes the relationship between a typical brand and their target audience. It’s useful to some degree in that it helps a company focus what they can do for a potential customer. However, it reduces the relationship to only that aspect.

before and after the brand

Why Your Brand's Value Proposition SucksThe Gap

Your relationship with your target is really more of a process. Your brand takes a possible consumer through an experience. If it ends at the value proposal, then it looks like this. The arrow in the middle shows the value proposition. It’s the gap between what a person looks like before and after experiencing your brand.

The Merit Delivery

There is something that beats a value proposition every time. It’s a story that changes a person’s life. Stories do that. It offers merit, instead of just value. Value describes the relative worth of something. It could be an object or an experience. Merit implies something that deserves or justifies a reward. The merit delivery is always better than a value proposition. It points to something bigger than the value. It’s an ongoing experience that seems huge comparatively. It looks more like this.

Why Your Brand's Value Proposition Sucks

The experience of the deliverable is bigger

Here is the big delivery for the brand. Consolacon is a company that specializes in high-end, custom kitchen cabinetry. They make cabinets using only the best wood, the best finishes and the best assembly of those materials into the best kitchen cabinets. Their value proposition is a higher quality kitchen cabinet. If that’s where the brand ended, then there’s little excitement involved.

A Better Story

The merit delivery is huge compared to just a value proposition. For Consolacon, it goes beyond just cabinets. It offers a kitchen designed to give you the best cooking experience possible. It also ups the game on anyone who entertains, since, as we all know, most of the time hosting those parties, people gather in the kitchen. A different kind of life comes with a kitchen built by Consolacon. Look at it like this.

Why Your Brand's Value Proposition Sucks

The merit delivery is an awesome cooking space that’s great for entertaining

The problem with a value proposition is it ends too soon. If Consolacon offered a value proposition, it would show better wood and paint. But the merit delivery would show people gathered around plates of food, smiling and laughing because of the experience of cooking.

The average consumer has no idea what makes a kitchen cabinet. They don’t know the value of cabinet grade wood. Their understanding of the challenges of keeping cabinets level and plumb in a house that moves and breathes is minimal. They likely don’t know the first thing about paint finishes and hardeners added so that the finish is strong enough to be wiped down for years, but isn’t too brittle and flakes off.

What the average client for Consolacon knows is their life. They want to be able to have a functioning kitchen that helps them make good food and probably looks nice for the parties they give. It’s the merit of that deliverable that makes the difference, not the quality of wood, right?!

The Result

In the end, great brands focus on the merit delivery. Think about Apple for a minute. Their commercials feature people doing awesome things – skydiving, kendo, ballet – and then their products allowing people to experience them in deeper ways by recording video, or making music, or connecting with someone through Facetime. That’s a merit delivery. Other computer companies focus on the value proposition. Here’s our computer. It has a good processor and a sturdy case. Here are the specs. 

Which would you rather buy?



Hassan Aman 7/11/2016 · #9

#6 I totally agree with that, Paul. If you keep emotions, passion and interest of the audience in mind, you will actually influence their decision making more than anything. Quote (thinkwithGoogle) ''Consumers choose the brands that engage them on their passions and interests 42% more often than they do those that simply urge them to buy the product being advertised. As a result, their path to purchase is actually their path to purpose.'' https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/the-path-to-purpose.html

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Christine Stevens 7/11/2016 · #8

#6 I agree that more people make decisions based on how they "feel" rather than based on what they "think". This, in my not so humble opinion, is one of the fundamental reasons why this country is such a bloody mess at the moment.

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Paul Martin 7/11/2016 · #7

#1 Hassan, you quote "experiences" like it has a lot deeper meaning. Love that! Thanks for sharing.

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Paul Martin 7/11/2016 · #6

#5 Being an analyst, I would hope that's true. However, the science is now saying that decisions are made through the limbic system and are actually more emotional than rational. Do you agree? Thanks for commenting.

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Christine Stevens 7/11/2016 · #5

I might be the odd man out, but I'll take the product that gives me all of its specs over a black box any day.

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Fran Brizzolis 7/11/2016 · #4

Great article, required reading @Paul Martin. Relly fantastic!

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zeca dilaon 7/11/2016 · #3

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Hassan Aman 7/11/2016 · #2

A recommended read.

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