It is one of the more curious aspects of the marketing universe that businesses try to present themselves as heroic perpetrators of a Unique Selling Point.
The idea of a USP, for the most part, remains an exercise in the assertion of false propositions, designed to look real, by which businesses set themselves apart from their business clones (their competitors) who do, make, say and think exactly the same as they do.
Standing Out from the Crowd
USPs rarely exist as physical or conceptual objects in and of themselves. They are invariably manufactured or accentuated as part of a design process or as branding exercises that create a superficial facade of uniqueness to mask the sameness or indifference lurking underneath.
To this extent, marketers are like artists creating a likeness of life that exists as a metaphorical extension of life, rather than life itself, representing nothing of what is real but adding a fake sheen to the humdrum aspect of what is real. But they are motivated by deception rather than interpretation – and therein lies the mark of difference between them that says it all.
The marketer, certainly, is a trickster, an illusionist, a con artist who peddles untruths in order to make the truth seem better.
But the fact remains that a creative sleight of hand is required for conjuring up a USP that carries a likeness to reality which is convincing enough to make it seem real.
The Invention of Tradition
Arguably, there is no necessary evil or dishonesty, here, but rather a process of adding a cosmetic glitz to an excruciating dullness from which, otherwise, nothing is gained. We are to bear in mind that, in the success or failure of a given product, there are livelihoods at stake, as well as “businesses”. But businesses should exist both for and because of their workforce – not for profit – but for the enrichment of the workforce who allow it exist (which is not, of course, the way it is seen by executive boards and their parasitic shareholders).
And that, surely, legitimises the application of the full palette of artifices: making something seem better than it actually is, to ensure that it exceeds its limitations, for the betterment of the working people as a whole.
USPs are essentially inventions of tradition. Like tradition, they dress up history in majestic robes which are exaggerations of the mundane body of history they represent. They succeed by applying exaggerated terms to products and services which are otherwise so commonplace as to remain unnoticed by anyone other than those who participate in their production and sales.
Abrogation of responsibility
Where a lack of difference persists there is, however, a mark of difference that applies to the product in terms of its design, functionality and the quality of the materials used to build it. One type of kettle may look better, feel better, function better and last longer than another. But this is not a Unique Selling Point. It’s a point of superiority in the product that doesn’t make it unique but makes it exemplary of its kind.
In terms of production, however, what is exemplary should actually be normal, a universal standard. As it is, in practice, the people are sold duds in all areas of the marketplace, compelled to purchase items that are so low in quality that they should never have been built, let alone sold, in the first place.
It is the legacy of capitalism that it fails to maintain a standard of quality in regards to everything it produces and that, in fact, it encourages a race to the bottom in terms of quality in order to sustain a race to the top in terms of executive power, increased profits and jobs for the boys.
It is an abrogation of responsibility that the ruling classes choose to exemplify what is normal to facilitate their enrichment, while poorer people are consigned to the forced ownership of defective goods without any real or lasting value whatsoever.
Dishonesty by Design
Design is perhaps a point at which a measure of difference begins to present itself with an authentic appeal to the claim of uniqueness. And, in many cases, design itself is the reason why the product is sought after and considered special.
But the failure to provide quality as a standard criterion of production means that design is merely a means of disguising the absence of quality – not a mark of it – whereby the product is designed in order to disguise its lack of worth. Such a secondary abrogation of responsibility is one of the defining features of the capitalist mindset: let us perpetuate deception on all levels so we might thrive at the expense of others.
Capitalism is society done on the cheap for the enrichment of a cheap few.