Searching for that elusive USP? It's tough when your product doesn't seem to hit the mark.
US brewer Anheuser Busch (and all brewers) are in the same boat. I mean, a beer is a beer right? WRONG. Of course not. It's a bird, it's a horse, it's a pinup girl…
Here's some of the ways Anheuser overcame their 'commodity' problem:
1. Use your logo to tell a story. They added an Eagle to their logo implying it was the Eagle of beers (later one of their brands, Budweiser, was dubbed the King of Beers – there's no limit to this).
2. Be first by creating a geographically unique market out of thin air: "First National Beer". "Brewed Exclusively in Hell, Michigan" (I made that one up, but you get the idea).
3. Get sexist. The 'Budweiser Girl' poster campaign lasted 30 years.
4. Launch a campaign. Anheuser's USP in 1914 was its year-long newspaper campaign against the threat to personal freedom from prohibition. When prohibition began anyway, they created a new alcohol-free product called Bevo (first to market USP). Half the brewers went bust during prohibition.
5. In the 1930's they used heavy horses to show their historical connection with brewing ("you may love your new car, but you can always rely on a traditional brew" – selling old as new).
6. In the 1950's they used their 100th anniversary to differentiate. And they attached further differentiation using the association of famous historical characters with their "The Beer of Your Lifetime Too" campaign.
7. By 1960 they'd become number one by associating their brand with the mass market. The "people like us drink beer like this" concept, or as they put it "Where there's life, there's Bud" ("you're alive, we're alive, fancy a pint?").
8. In 1965 they introduced 'value' as a USP with the simple slogan "It's worth it" (can you see how easy it is to create USP's? – just add a great copywriter). They missed a trick though. They made it about the beer, not the drinker. L'Oreal stole the idea 7 years later and made it personal ("You're worth it").
9. Give it a nickname. Hey, why not use a nickname as your USP? And let's make it all warm and cozy "Fancy a Bud, bud?".
10. You can even USP on sound, as in the famous fizzy "Buscssssshhhhh" sound of the cap popping off campaign in the 1970's (also used by Schweppes in the UK).
Here's a BONUS entry: "If Heineken created copywriters, they would probably be the best copywriters in the world". But since they don't, you can always join my new copywriting class over at ProCopyClub.com and become one.