Your label is your USP

Posted on October 12, 2017

Let’s call a spade a bloody shovel why don’t we! 

For years producers have tried to figure out the complex game of effective marketing. This is and never will be a straight forward strategy that you can simply read in a book or follow on a step-by-step instruction manual. Instead its more often a challenging gauntlet of design vs competition to acutely suit your brand and even more so your product.

There are of course far too many “knowledgeable professionals” out there who will advise you on upping your budget, going online, re-defining your target audience, tweaking your message, re-analysing your strategies, and the list goes on… BUT, if the point I am going to focus on is one of your most import USPs (unique selling points – in case you’re not familiar with the term) it’s got to be your LABEL. Your label is without a doubt one of your most powerful marketing tools and for this reason you shouldn’t take the challenge lightly. 


Let’s take a look at how people get to meet your product. There are of course gazillions of ways in which your potential market could be introduced to your product, but for all intent and purpose, lets tease out the obvious.


Be it through print media or online media, you will at most of these opportunities include a visual image of your product. The blurb (or content) around your product can be as creative as you like, can be as seductive or attractive as possible, but the image it ultimately the bullet they may or may not strike the target. 

Exhibitions, promotions, etc. 

The actual tasting or testing of a product is king – and we won’t contest this. But if your product is great and it’s compared to another equally great product, what is going to make it stand out and sell? Packaging. (maybe a little reputation and price-point can be added to that, but packaging is often highest on the consumers list of priorities.) 

Word of mouth. 

That’s a simple one we can all relate to. If and when a product really appeals to you in such a profound way that you would make the effort to recommend it, then the producer has done something significantly right. But in that case, it’s fortunate to have moved beyond the aspect of packaging alone – which by that time has done its job, and it’s progressed to become a product you love.  When a product is that great, the packaging almost doesn’t matter anymore to those who have become loyal to the product, but it still needs to convince others, and for that reason the packaging remains important. 

In essence, whether you have a reputable product that sells itself based on it being a really good product, or your consumer base is strong and profitable, you will still need the traction of your USPs to gain growth in the market and expand on your business brand footprint. 

Focussing on the wrong thing? 

Sometimes producers make the mistake of trying to wheedle their market with what they think are important or impressive qualities (strictly referring to those that dominate the label). Now I’m not going to shoot this plane down entirely, because this will always remain a highly debatable topic (controversial even), but the idea or intention will never appeal to everyone. The qualities or product profile characteristics I am referring to are things like organic or not, heritage, sustainable farming practices, accreditations (of which most consumers know very little about), production techniques, etc. Yes, we are most definitely impressed by these things and the brand undoubtedly gains our added respect for such efforts, but the degree to which these qualities actually affect the sales is most likely less significant to the design itself. 

Action plan. 

Labels are a USP that have way more power than many care to think. People are visually stimulated – vulnerable I’d prefer to say in fact! If I must be honest about the way I shop, I might as well go to confession. The truth is we buy with our eyes. Yes, we read a bit here and there and yes, we take the advice of another (occasionally) but the brutal reality is that we choose that which our eyes find appealing. 

With this in mind, the message herein is that you should never neglect the marketing ability of your labels. Be creative, be clever and listen to or figure out what the consumer is looking for. Aside of analysing the quality of your product (this would have been part of your initial focus in terms of your brand values, missions and goals) but within a marketing strategy, your product label is key to presenting your brand, the product and more specifically convincing the consumer.  

Do trends and fashion play a role in the game of labelling? Oh yes, they do. Here’s an example. I went to buy a bottle of bubbly as a gift for a close relative the other day - and although I know the taste preference of the person I was buying it for, I am also acutely familiar with their interior style and brand awareness… My choice was therefore firstly based on the appearance of the label, secondly by price and thirdly – whatever was in the bottle!  I’m not going to disclose what it was that I bought, but it was a R300 bottle of bubbly with a really chic label!  Whether it was a brut or fruit, blah, blah, blah was irrelevant, and I don’t really recall… but what made me buy it? The label. 

The purpose of this article is to encourage all and any producers out there (trying to battle the contest of competition) to take a fresh look at your labels. Ask yourself if they are still performing a contestable role in the market and if they are appealing to the right target market? If the answer to that question is in any way heading toward the negative, then you know what to do! 

Cheers to fantastic labels – powerful ones that reach out to the consumer! 

By Rene Reece

Veritas Labels

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