The following story was written by Winnie Hart, President of TwinEngine, EO Houston member and upcoming EO24 speaker. Don’t miss Winnie’s EO24 presentation, “Branding That Stands Out From the Competition,” on 19 November; it will be broadcast at: 1:20 a.m., 9:20 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. GMT, as part of our 24 hour-long virtual-learning event. Check out the EO24 program for a list of all the amazing keynote speakers and presentation titles.
Being identical twins, Lorrie and I have quite a bit of experience relating to the challenges involved in achieving the individuality required in order to stand out.
Until we were about the age of 13, we were even dressed alike. Our distinction up until that time was that we looked exactly alike. Around that time, however, I remember clearly that looking and being different from my twin sister was just about the most important thing in my world. I wanted to be seen as a separate and distinct person. And when you’ve been one-half of the “little twins” for 13 years, you have to make some pretty dramatic changes to change that perception.
Identifying the characteristics which distinguish a company from its competitors has never been more essential for success than it is today. The internet and global media have drawn every industry in to international focus. With these changes come expanded opportunities and expanded exposure, but they have also broadened the playing field. Companies which used to have one or two local competitors could now have dozens or even hundreds of competitors.
What Lorrie and I have realized is that your distinct advantage is not just what makes your product or service different; it’s what makes your company different. It is the unique combination of gifts, experiences, culture, stories, skills and inclinations that make up who you are and what you do in ways that your competition doesn’t, can’t or won’t.
So how can you determine your distinct advantage as a company?
- Define your purpose as a business.Your purpose is not a mission or vision statement. Purpose integrates what a company values and believes in with why it’s in business and describes them in terms of the heart as well as the mind. Purpose is the beneficial something more that a company delivers that adds significant value to whatever it sells.
- Explore your brand personality. What are the stories that surround your brand? What are its strengths and memorable qualities? What is the main character of your company brand?
- Be authentic. Make your purpose and your personality the focus of your marketing efforts and messaging. Not only will this distinguish your company from the competition, but it will provide internal clarity and alignment with the company vision and business goals.
- Don’t try to be all things to all people or look like everyone else. Your distinct advantage help you and your business get “pointy”—more focused on who you are and what you’re in business to do. Look for areas where what you offer is in alignment with your prospects needs in places your competitors aren’t.
- Do what you want to be known for. When you say, “This is what we stand for, and this is why we do what we do”—you do so with the understanding that you will appeal most to those people who share your values and who relate to what you say you stand for. But that’s okay because those people are your ideal prospects—your ideal leads and ultimately your brand ambassadors.
Don’t forget to tap in to you as the source of your success. As entrepreneurs, when we began our businesses, we had a picture of what we wanted to accomplish, and there was something in that picture that went beyond the idea of making money. This inspirational driving force is an essential ingredient to continuing to both make a difference and making our companies different.
In the immortal words of Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Winnie Brignac Hart and Lorrie Brignac Lee are identical twin sisters and are, respectively, Chief Right Engine and Chief Left Engine of TwinEngine, a Houston-based strategic brand consulting firm. In business for over 25 years, this article is excerpted from their book, Stand Out: The Eight Fundamentals of Standing Out in Business, scheduled for release in January 2016. The Executive Summary is available for download: www.TwinEngine.com/StandOut. Winnie Hart is President of TwinEngine. E-mail Winnie at: Winnie@TwinEngine.com.