by Faith Monson
No one in this world is exactly like you. No one has traveled the same road, taken the same life journey. You are unique from your siblings, your other family members, and from everyone else on this planet—even if they share the same name as yours. Did you ever realize that you are also unique when it comes to your business? That one-of-a-kind life road that you’ve traveled means that although there may be thousands of people in the same business, none of them is exactly like you.
In business, differentiation is the heart of branding. When individuals and companies create a brand, they are defining what makes them unique, creating something that makes them different. Usually, the difference is there from the beginning; a clever marketer just helps the company or individual see what’s been in front of them all the time and recognize its value. It’s like figuring out the “secret ingredient” to take a so-so meal and make it fantastic.
Secret ingredients are at the heart of many restaurants’ success. They’re also the stuff of family legend. Some cooks will go so far as to share only part of their best recipes, leaving out the “secret ingredient” so that no one else can make the dish quite as good as theirs. Bush’s Baked Beans has a whole ad campaign about their secret ingredient, as does Kentucky Fried Chicken. The “signature dishes” on restaurant menus reflect the creativity of their chefs, and lure faithful patrons back time and again—but they won’t share the recipes that have made them famous.
So what’s your secret ingredient? What do you do better than anyone else? It could be something as simple as being a very good listener (they’re in short supply). Maybe you’re a whiz with numbers, and even more rare, can explain number-related information in plain English to those who aren’t as good with figures. Perhaps you know how to brighten up a room and motivate people. Maybe you’re doggedly persistent and have what it takes to get to the bottom of a thorny issue. You may have the (rare) moral courage to speak to the truth to those in power when ethics or integrity have been compromised. Often, people who possess these kinds of “secret ingredients” don’t understand just how special they really are.
Here’s my challenge: Ask three friends, family members or business associates whom you trust and who have known you for a while to tell you what they think your secret ingredient is. You might be surprised to discover the power of your signature style!