Business Design Tools

Value Proposition Designer

The Value Proposition Canvas is a tool which can help ensure that a product or service is positioned around what a customer actually values. Relevance is the name of the game.

The classic use of this tool is for it to compliment the “DESIRABILITY” part of the Business Model Canvas. It offers a framework that is centered around your understanding of a customer’s pains, gains and jobs to be done. The idea being that as a designer you would work back from your customer centric perspective to map out a relevant value proposition design. You can make use of this tool to map out the perceived value of current products and services or as a true design tool for new ones.

The Value Proposition Canvas was developed by Alexander Osterwalder and is licensed to

Products and Services

What are the products and services you can offer your customer so they can get their job done?

Gain Creators

What can you offer your customer to help them achieve their gains?

Pain Relievers

How can you help yout customer to relieve their pains? What problems can you eradicate?


What would make your customer happy? What would make their life and the job-to-be-done easier?


What is annoying or troubling your customer? What is preventing them from getting the job done?


What is the job the customer wants to get done in their work or life?

5 Effective ways to use the tool

Understand What You're Selling

Breaking down you’re current value proposition will help deepen your knowledge of what you’re offering and why. It can expose problems with the offer and promote improvement and innovation around it to strengthen the value of your business. Amplify that with any customer data you may have and you have an opportunity to tune the existing value proposition for the better.

Understand actual customer usage

How are your customers actually using your product or service? Going through this activity from a heavily customer-centric perspective can expose things that you wouldn’t have otherwise realised especially if you can conduct this exercise with actual customers in the room!

Design new relevant products and services

It’s an amazing design tool. When appreciating that the foundation of successful business models is winning value propositions, it should force us to really understand DESIRABILITY. By going deep into understanding the target customer segment and prioritizing what pains, gains and job-to-be-done you believe your product or service can help with is the first part of using this tool. Only then can you start mapping, designing and articulating your winning value proposition.

Create more compelling marketing language

With increased understanding of how your offer helps your customer comes a greater ability to tailor your marketing to suit that need. If there’s one or two common reasons why your customer is using your product, focus your language on the pain relief or gains you are creating.

Pitches and Proposals

This is a fantastic way to let potential future stakeholders know more about your products and services. Using this canvas as a storytelling tool can show that your idea has depth as well as being customer centric. 

Top Tips

Always start with the persona

Beginning the design process with a solid understanding of the pains and gains of your customer ensures that you’re value proposition will be heading in the right direction. If you have the time and want to go deeper then do a first pass using the empathy map. You are looking to really get inside the head of this person to flush out what is keeping them awake and night (pains) and what the dream about (gains).

Identify your critical assumptions‚Äč

What if you are wrong? What if the customer doesn’t feel that pain? What if the customer couldn’t care less about that gain? Your unless 100% co-created with every one of your customers, your value proposition design will be riddled with assumptions. That’s OK! But, please make sure you flush out your RISKIEST assumption and figure out a way to test and validate it.

Gains are not the inverse of pains

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between pains and gains. They are certainly not the flip side of each other. Consider what the expectation is of a customer. If their expectation is met then that’s “fine” and can be considered as a fairly neutral experience. If there expectation isn’t met then that causes them pain. My train is late, I’m going to be late for work, my boss will be mad. If the train is early then that’s a pleasant surprise and I’ve now got time to grab a coffee before the office, that’s a gain. Clearly that’s a very simple example, so when empathizing with your customer really try to dig into a collection of pains and gains and try to figure of what really keeps them awake at night and what they dream about. If you think you can help with all of their pains and gains then you should challenge that assumption!

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