Background image: a small homemade flag with the words “Explore” on it. Headline over it: Clearly Branded Step 4: X-Factor, Flag, and Personality

Clearly Branded Step 4: X-Factor, Flag & Brand Personality

Alright, making progress on our Clearly Branded journey. The next step, Step 4, is a very important one that positions you in the market and reveals your angle. Together, we will figure out the main differentiator that makes your brand unique. The X-Factor, what Flag you fly, and your overall Brand Personality.

If you missed the first three steps of my brand-building journey, you can catch up here:

Clearly Branded Process Step 1: Foundation. The What. The How. The Why

Clearly Branded Process Step 2: Mission, Vision, Goals

Clearly Branded Process Step 3: Brand Values

process graph of the Clearly Branded journey, with X-Factor, Flag, and Brand Personality highlighted as part 4

Back to Step 4. Let’s break down the three terms:

What Is Your Brand’s X-Factor?

The X-Factor is that special sauce, that makes your brand unique, irreplaceable, and radically different. In marketing, the “Unique Selling Point” (USP) is how you add intangible value to your product or service and find ways to do more for your clients than any of your competitors. You know, that extra mile!

Here are a couple of well-known brands and their X-Factor.

Let’s take Amazon. Their X-Factor is that they “stock everything from A-Z” (which explains the arrow connecting the A and Z in their logo. Clever, right?). And it’s true. Who else out there can claim that massive of an inventory?

Next up: Toms. Their unique approach is deeply rooted in their ethics and social responsibility. “We commit 1/3 of our profits to support people building equity at the grassroots level.” Many companies followed suit and give back to communities in need, but they were the first.

Hello Fresh makes a bold statement and claims to be “America’s Most Popular Meal Kit”. As long as data backs it up and it remains this way, it’s a fantastic way to stand out. The people have voted, and the majority wins.

How To Find Your X-Factor? 

Here are some prompt questions to get you started:

  • What makes you weird? Unusual? What are some little-known facts about you?
  • What are some of the uncommon methods or tools you use?
  • What are some skills that you’ve honed over time, effort, and plenty of practice?
  • What is your story, your personal experience that makes this important—what makes your approach unique?
  • When have you experienced success and proven that you can do hard things? What can you bring from those experiences into what you are doing now?
  • What do you do outside of work (hobbies, volunteering, clubs, activities), that might add experiences and value to your vocation? 

To dissect and distill your responses, follow these three steps:

  1. Based on your answers, write down all the keywords that could be your X-Factor. List as many as you can find and brainstorm some more.
  2. Now, let’s only choose three words out of the list, that feel the most authentic and the most YOU.
  3. Now the hard part—choose only one word out of those three, that feels the most true to you and your brand. That’s most likely your special sauce.
a graph explaining how to distill a list of brainstormed words to 3 words, and then 1 word

What Flag Do You Fly?

What do you mean, “What flag do you fly?” you might ask. I am not flying any flag. Well, figuratively speaking you do. You have an idea, start a business, and make it your own. You brand it, hiss a flag, and claim it as yours. What does this flag look like and what does it say about your company? That’s where your brand specialist comes in. I like to narrow it down to one (or two) words. One word that reflects the entire belief system of your company. The one core value that your company is built on.

For example:

Airbnb – Belonging
REI – Adventure
Apple – Innovation
Harley Davidson – Freedom
Zappos – Service
Coca-Cola – Happiness
Lime&Co – Clarity

The process is similar to the three-step way of determining the X-Factor. Brainstorm meaningful words, narrow them down to three distill them to one word. Voila! There is the flag you fly!

Here are a few more examples from my own clients:

Nautilus Construction – Home
Wholeness At Work – Thoughtful Health
Zettist Marketing House – Connection
SDSU Coral Lab – Capacity-Building
Spring Theory Pilates – Expanding Possibilities

And Lastly, What Is Your Brand Personality?

The brand personality slider is a brand strategy exercise done quickly, without much time to think, where you position your company between pairs of extremes. Often it is a mix of the founder’s personality, you, and that of the brand. Most importantly, it hones in on how you’d like your brand to be perceived. The result helps me to set the tone for your brand building and with decision-making for voice and tone, look and feel, and culture and values. Here are some examples of common traits on the spectrum, but you can develop your own pairs of extremes as well. What’s most important is that you take a stand and pick a side. As you can imagine, remaining in the neutral middle on all of them does not make for a compelling brand experience. 

Showing an infographic with opposing personality traits on a sliding scale. Word include: classic/contemporary, exclusive/mass appeal, authoritative/friendly, serious/playful, Subtle/bold, simple/complex, industrial/natural, mainstream/unconventional, casual/elegant, feminine/masculine, established/youthful, expensive/economical

Curious what personality traits your company might have and what flag you fly? Do you know your X-Factor? Spend some time and figure it out. It will bring clarity to your business and influence many decisions you make every day.

If you need help, let me know.

Here for you,

We are proud to be named one of the Top 30 Branding Agencies in San Diego by DesignRush. DesignRush is a B2B marketplace that connects brands with professional full-service agencies, web design companies, digital marketing firms, and top technology companies.

Flag Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash