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In his best-selling book Start with Why, Simon Sinek identifies a key difference between innovators and everyone else. And it’s just one word. He calls it the why — an embodiment of a company’s purpose and beliefs.
In our experience, we’ve learned that many companies find it difficult to identify their reason for being, so we naturally gravitate to folks like Sinek, who lay out clear principles for discovering the essence of branding.
Using what he calls The Golden Circle (below), Sinek explains that most companies — and people on an interpersonal level — communicate from the outside in. Almost all companies tell their customers what they do. This is the comfort zone, and many companies never leave this stage. “We do this, we make this product, we offer these services,” and so on.
Some companies move into the next stage: how they do what they do. This is usually something that sets them apart and makes them unique.
Most companies never get to the why. As a thought exercise, how many brands do you know that explain why they are doing what they are doing?
Sinek inverts this traditional method and explains how leaders and innovators tend to communicate from the inside out. To illustrate, he draws a contrast between how Apple and its competitors sell their respective products.
Sinek proposes that Apple’s competitors approach their customers by saying: “We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. Want to buy one?”
By comparison, Apple says, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
The second statement is obviously far more effective. As Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He continues to say that “people can understand vast amounts of information like features and benefits, and facts and figures — it just doesn’t drive behavior. When we communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior.”
Branding and advertising resonate on an emotional level, and there’s considerable research supporting the position that purchasing decisions are most often made because of a successfully triggered emotional response.
Apple’s why statement rings authentic, and people can sense it. Exposed to the company’s core belief, customers are driven to want more than just a beautifully designed product, they want to be associated with what the company’s message says about them. They’re buying into a set of shared values. They’re buying Apple’s why, which permeates everything the company does and keeps their customers coming back to buy computers, phones, tablets, and Apple-branded anything.
As the world’s most valued brand, not everyone can be an Apple. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a unique story to tell, a compelling why to share. Discovering what it is just may change the way you—and your customers—think about your business. Give us a call today and let us help find your why.