If your product doesn’t stand alone, it will fall to the competition. That’s the theory expounded by brand consultant Joe Calloway, whose new book, Becoming a Category of One, offers advice on making a product stand out in a category (think Starbucks, Rolex, Harley-Davidson). Here’s a taste of his idea; for an excerpt from each chapter, see his website at www.joecalloway.com.

American Way: What is a “Category of One”?
Joe Calloway:
You differentiate yourself from your competition to the point that you defy comparison. For instance, the average Starbucks customer goes there 18 times per month. That’s amazing. So the idea is that there is Starbucks, and then there’s everyone else who sells coffee.

American Way: What makes a company fit that description?
Every one of these companies has had a moment of truth where they said, “Let’s make this company great” — and then did it. Most companies are pretty happy to keep doing what they’re doing. The [successful] companies are willing to let go of what’s working today to make room for what’s going to work tomorrow.

American Way: Why is Les Schwab Tires a good example?
When you pull into the parking lot, one of the employees runs out to your car. They don’t walk, they run. At every single store, every single time. Les Schwab does this little, maybe even silly, thing, that says, “We’re happy you’re here, and we’re glad for your business.” I often tell business audiences to find their version of running to the car.