What Does Your Product Mean to Your Customers?

Your product isn’t just about filling a need but creating a new source of meaning in your customers’ lives. Beyond that, the connection between what is meaningful to the creators of a brand and what is meaningful to the consumers of its products create something that transcends the transactional.

In his book, Design-Driven Innovation, Roberto Verganti writes, “people do not buy products but meanings.”

Simon Sinek famously asked, “Why do you do what you do?” as a way to position your brand and lead the market. But I find that two more effective questions are “What does your product mean to your business?” and “What does your product mean to your customers?”

When your brand is grounded in meaning, you can create the messaging, merchandising, and marketing that tells a story that customers can really buy into. Click to tweet!

Further, when your business can imagine ways to innovate on the meaning of your product, you can create new products that aren’t just different but true game-changers.

Below are 5 brands that really know what value means to their customers. They measure their success in meaning and consistently make decisions based on representing that meaning in their customers’ lives.


Starbucks is a gimme. They trade on ubiquity and consistency while capitalizing on the ever-growing love of craft coffee.

The white & green paper cup represents a known quantity, in the best way possible. Starbucks customers know that inside their cup is the same beverage they always drink, whether in Seattle, the suburban jungle, or the regional airport.

They’ve taken steps in recent years to shore up this consistency. With the launch of the Verismo home brewer last year, Starbucks is hoping customers want to take this meaning home with them, too.


I’m a devoted Evernote user for one simple reason: it means I never have to forget a great idea. Evernote knows this. The headline on their website right now is “Remember everything.”

They know that’s what their product means to their customers so they’ve made an effort to build out the application on every platform. They’ve also incorporated new features like reminders and shortcuts to make sure great ideas never pass its users by.


Moo specializes in easy-to-create business cards. But beyond that, what they really create are conversation starters. The very nature of the product–its customer photos and slick design–give its customers something they can be proud of and something they can use to spark discussion.

For Moo’s customers–budding business owners–that could mean the difference between paying the bills each month or not. That business card isn’t just a way for people to contact them, it’s the key to starting a relationship with someone who could be a lifelong customer.


Copyblogger specializes in “tools & training to make your content work for you.” After teaching copywriting, blogging, and content marketing techniques in its popular blog for many years, Copyblogger launched several software tools that supported its key content strategy. For the Copyblogger team, it meant no longer relying on the increasingly difficult prospect of monetizing content or selling information products.

But for their customers, the move to software meant making it much easier for them to actually put all that great Copyblogger advice to use. Instead of creating content no one was consuming, their customers could find ways to connect to more readers through search, build more effective landing pages, and have better converting websites. And what does that mean to their customers? More money, less time wasted.

Megan Auman

It’s not just big businesses that understand what their products mean to their customers. In fact, small businesses might even have an easier time. Designer Megan Auman could sell her jewelry on its features & benefits: it’s made from recycled steel, weighs next to nothing, and is insanely durable. But her tagline tells a different story, one that really means something to her customers.

Megan Auman products are about “making a statement every day.” For her customers, that means feeling their best no matter whether the day’s outfit is a t-shirt and jeans or their favorite little black dress. In fact, Megan calls her signature line the “little black necklace.” That’s value that immediately means something to her customers and changes the way they approach jewelry.

No matter the product or service your business offers, it means something to your customers. Understanding that meaning–what it looks like, feels like, even smells like!–is the key to making the marketing, product development, and sales decisions that will make your business hum.