In his landmark book, Good To Great, Jim Collins provided a retrospective of the characteristics that propelled certain companies from “good to great” while comparable companies with similar opportunities failed to make the jump.

An example “great” company is Southwest. Southwest lives their purpose. They let you bring your bags for free. And they give us the freedom to fly. That is what Southwest stands for: The Freedom to Fly. We know Southwest loves us. They remember our birthday and send us drink coupons. They are friendly. They make our lives easier.

Author Roy Spence wrote about Southwest Airlines in his book, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For. He tells the story of two guys who wanted to make flights between Texas cities cheaper and more available. Herb Kelleher and Rollin King started with that purpose and then created an airline that allowed people the opportunity to fly, once a service available to only 15 percent of the American public. Southwest knows what they stand for and they live it.

Identifying the characteristics which distinguish a company from its competitors has never been more essential for success than it is now. The Internet and global media have drawn every industry in to international focus. With these changes come expanded opportunities, but also expanded exposure. If a company does not tell its own story, someone else may very well tell one about them.

The question has become not only how to stand out, but what do you want to stand out for. What is your X-Factor? It’s critical that you establish and control how your business becomes distinguished in the marketplace.

When you know your X-Factor you have the competitive advantage over your competitors - it’s what you do that no one else does. It’s what makes a prospect choose your product or service over another. Your X-Factor translates into many forms - a brand promise, a value proposition, a positioning statement, a tagline or even your secret sauce. It’s how you stand out. 

You may have a solid business strategy and plan, an excellent product or service, talented and dedicated employees and a rock star sales and marketing team—you may be doing all these things right, but if you don’t stand out, you lose. The simplest formula for sustaining business growth, building brand equity and standing out is to be more of who or what you already are. And to do it truthfully and authentically. Why? Because authenticity is sustainable and it sells.

Customers recognize and value honesty, simplicity and integrity. They are attracted to it and will generally pay more to have it. When you’re not authentic, customers can tell. And in today’s online, real-time environment, if you don’t tell the truth, someone else surely will. Customers also value clarity. They want to know what it is about you and your business that is different and truly unique.

My sister, Lorrie and I are identical twins. Being identical twins, we know a lot about the confusion and frustration that comes from a lack of clarity when things look the same. Until our late teens, we were known as one person “Winnie-Lorrie” (that’s one word) or “The Little Twins.” It has taught us a simple truth about differences. When you look at identical twins, what do you think? How are they different? What makes each of them unique? Identical twins are intriguing — it’s because people can’t usually tell them apart. 

We live in a world that appreciates and expects individual differences in appearance and behavior. So when we encounter two identical individuals (like Lorrie and myself), this experience challenges our beliefs about the way that the world works. 

Of course, identical twins are never exactly alike, and some differ in profound ways. Yet we can’t stop ourselves from comparing them and trying to and the differences that help us to tell them apart. By taking a closer look at twins, we can learn a great deal about the concept of differentiation. By looking past what’s just intriguing, we can learn about how we perceive differences in anyone or anything.


When I look at my twin, I can experience how others view me—and actually see myself from outside of myself. I’ve learned first-hand to identify and appreciate what makes us different. There are physical differences and there are inner differences—one of us is a left-brain thinker and one is a right-brain thinker. One is creative and expressive; the other is rational and linear. But it’s the pairing and integration of these different qualities that makes our agency “TwinEngine” what it is. It’s our X-Factor and Distinct Advantage: right brain, left brain, creative and analytic thinking. And when the two work together as one, the whole is greater than the individual parts. 

Do you want to discover your company’s X-Factor?

Meet BrandintheBox™. It’s like having a CMO delivered straight to your doorstep. BrandintheBox™ is a monthly subscription brand kit developed by TwinEngine to grow your brand and business by empowering your team through actionable tools and guides. You may have a solid business strategy and plan, an excellent product or service, talented and dedicated employees and a rockstar sales and marketing team—you may be doing all these things right—but if you don’t stand out, you lose. BrandintheBox™ offers a clear and structured approach to mastering how to stand out, be remembered, and become a trusted and preferred choice of customers and prospects. BrandintheBox™ does this by focusing on the eight fundamental areas of a brand: purpose, reputation, visuality, authenticity, ideal leads, distinction, strategy and mindset.

Topics: branding Stand Out

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Written by Winnie Hart

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