So, is the premise a USP (unique selling point) or not?

As seen in the last two examples, modern positioning is all about the story, and every story has a premise. So in this case, your USP (unique selling point) is also a premise.

But from a copywriting/promotional campaign standpoint, a premise is a specific story or concept that supports and flows from the top-line positioning. Here’s a famous example.

Nike has one of the most powerful positioning statements on the planet, expressed in three little words — just do it.

Beyond selling shoes, this is life philosophy boiled down to its essence, and that’s why it’s so powerful.

Now, think back to Nike’s Instant Karma commercial. Better yet, watch it again here. So what’s the premise?

First, notice how you don’t see a logo or company name until the very end. In fact, the camera barely shows the shoes of the athletes. It’s all about the lyrics married to the visuals.

The first lyrical tie-in hits with“Join the human race.”Then things really kick in with“Who do you think you are, a superstar? Well, right you are!” And then the unifying chorus paired with images of athletic adversity punctuated with triumph, as John Lennon repeats “As we all shine on ….”

This individual promotion supports Nike’s overall brand positioning of Just do it in a powerful, unique way. Did it sell shoes, or only expose John Lennon to a new generation?

I’m not sure, but Nike is one of the best at using emotionally-charged premises in its messages. And this is the skill you need to get good at to create a great copy.

In essence, every promotional premise is an aspect of positioning, but it’s not the whole thing. It’s a new chapter in the story that a particular company, product, or service is telling the marketplace, and it further shapes and defines the role in the marketplace and in the minds of prospects.

When you get right down to the fact that as a copywriter you’re a storyteller, you know that story is all about how you tell it. It’s not just an idea or a benefit, it’s the way you communicate that idea or benefit in each and every message.
But first, we need to come up with that killer premise.