“One stop shop” is not a value proposition. It’s a cliché and a terrible way to describe your brand image. Do your brand a favor and eliminate the phrase from your vocabulary.
“One stop shop” is a shorthand to describe a broad service offering. The phrase originated in the late 1920s as a positioning strategy for an automotive repair store. At the time the business model was unique. Auto parts, auto repairs, and auto sales were separate businesses. If a customer needed to fix his car he’d have to visit two or more stores. Bringing parts and services together in one business at one location was a paradigm shift in the automotive industry in the 1920s and 30s, and it created a huge value proposition for customers.
Describing the company as a “one stop shop” was a brilliant tagline during that time that accurately contributed value to the brand image. The service offering was unique, and the phrase summed it up perfectly, and the alliteration of one stop shop made the phrase fun to say and easy to remember. It was so good that the tagline outlived the business.
The catchiness of the phrase propelled one stop shop into pop culture. Generalists in every industry — printing, marketing, electronics, legal, distribution, you name it — have used it. The phrase has transitioned from a brilliant tagline into a cliché, and that’s why you should avoid using “one stop shop” with your brand.
Now, established brands with a broad product offering focus on what makes them unique:
- Walmart provides everyday items for the household at low prices. The current tagline is “Save Money. Live Better.”
- Target is jokingly referred to as Targét. It’s a discount retailer with style. Its tagline is “Expect More. Pay Less.” The “expect more” is what the company emphasizes in its store layout, customer service, product selection, and brand identity.
- Amazon is the “Everything Store.” The company’s mission is to create “a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Each of these mass retailers sells a lot of stuff, but that’s not what makes them unique. Every company has pushed beyond their product inventory and created clear strategies to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
This is my challenge for you and your brand: Drop “one stop shop” from your vocabulary. Better still, ban the phrase from your company, your brand image will thank you. Push yourself to find a better phrase — one that truly describes what makes your business unique.
Create Your Brand Image: Describe Your Brand in 10 Words or Less
I can rant on the failings of “one stop shop” for days, but that’s not the point of this article. We need to find better ways to describe your brand and what makes it unique.
The first Principle of Sticky Branding (the book) is Simple Clarity. This is the ability to describe your business and what makes it unique simply and succinctly. The ideal is to be able to describe your brand in 10 words or less.
Simple Clarity is the foundation of your brand. It’s often described as your elevator pitch or unique selling proposition. Regardless of what you call it, it’s got to be clear to be effective.
A good way to think about Simple Clarity is it’s like a label on a file folder. The label doesn’t provide a lot of information, but it has to be clear and descriptive to be effective. Too much or too little detail makes it hard to categorize, store, and retrieve.
For a label to be effective it should have three things:
- Short: Ideally 10 words or less.
- Descriptive: The label offers an explanation of the contents.
- Memorable: Easy to find and easy to refer.
Simple Clarity follows the same principles. Without using “one stop shop” create another label to describe your business.
You can do this by answering three questions:
- You are: What is your company’s industry or category?
- You do: What does your company do? More importantly, what does it do better than everyone else?
- You serve: Who does your company serve?
Simple Clarity distills you are, you do, you serve into a statement about your brand.
Avoid One Stop Shop Synonyms
As you create a Simple Clarity statement for your brand avoid the trap of looking for another way to say “one stop shop.”
Yes, you can find new and creative ways to say one stop shop. You can use synonyms like full service, soup to nuts, or everything you need from A to Z. But the synonyms are worse:
- The synonyms don’t sound as good. One stop shop has grown into a cliché, because it’s fun to say and easy to remember. The alliteration makes it superior to any of the synonyms.
- More importantly, the synonyms don’t resolve the real branding problem. Being a generalist is not a differentiator. Google killed the generalist by making it very easy to find anything you want with search.
Strike the one stop shop metaphor from your vocabulary and your marketing. It’s not doing your brand any favors.
Study your customers to uncover your value proposition:
- Why is the breadth of products and services a benefit to your customers?
- Quantify it. What tangible results do your customers achieve from your company?
- What types of customers does your company serve best, and why?
- What do they get from your business that they don’t get from your competitors?
Test Messages with the Win/Loss Card™
Chances are you won’t come up with a perfect alternative to “one stop shop” on your first try. You’re going to have to play with various messages, and see which ones resonate with your customers.
The best way to test your Simple Clarity statements is to go out and use them. Go out and sell. It’s amazing what you will discover in a sales call when you’re listening.
Pay attention to how prospects and customers respond to your Simple Clarity statements:
- Did it resonate? What statements, facts, figures, or stories resonated with the customer? What worked well?
- Did you face objections? As you experiment with alternative ways of describing your brand — alternatives to saying “one stop shop” — you may encounter resistance. Did your statement cause confusion or objections? Did the individual express any complaints, issues, or challenges with the brand image?
- What did they ask? What questions did you receive? Did they ask for more details at any point?
Every time you share your Simple Clarity description is a learning opportunity. Keep track of the responses. You will gain insights after a single pitch, but the real gold is found when you deliver the statement five to ten times. This is when you start to see patterns, and this knowledge is invaluable in developing and refining alternative ways of saying “one stop shop.”
To aid in the testing process I developed a tool, the Win/Loss Card™. Print a bunch of copies, and complete the form after each sales call. You can track all the questions above, and it will make it easier to spot the trends when you track the questions in a consistent format.
Download Win/Loss Card™
Transition Away From One Stop Shop
Unfortunately, for the reasons above, there just isn’t a simple replacement for the phrase, “one stop shop.” To add the idea of full service to your brand image, you are actually going to want to differentiate yourself.
It’s going to take creativity to look for other ways to explain your business and what it does. But I’m confident if you move beyond the cliché you’ll find a statement that does a much better job describing what makes your business unique.
The key to this exercise is to dive deeper into your organization, and really explore how it delivers value to customers. Selling a lot of products may be a benefit, but it is not an effective differentiator. Push the idea further. Explore why customers value what your company does, and why they choose it over the competition. This is where you will find better language to describe your brand.
Describe your brand without using any clichés, fluff, pomp, or buzz words. You are, you do, you serve. The facts are far more compelling than saying “one stop shop.”
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