A Return to the Golden Circle

, Posted on Aug 01

Everyone is selling the what. But purchasers buy for the why.

We’ve been talking a lot lately about “the golden circle,” as Simon Sinek has called it, so allow me to return to this topic with a visual representation…and a reiteration of why it’s so important for a company struggling to communicate its brand’s essence.

Most organizations focus their value proposition on what it is that they do. And that’s the message they enthusiastically take to market. (“We sell the world’s best widgets!”) But in reality, they do the same thing that all of their competitors do (i.e., sell worldclass widgets), so where’s the value proposition?

Few will move in a layer to communicate how they do it; but the market is likewise cluttered with homogenous “hows”—”unparalleled customer service,” “decades of experience,” e.g.

Few organizations work so hard to discover and define the why—their reason for being…the motivation behind their every action. It’s hard work; and it’s much easier to feature a bullet-pointed list of services on our website than struggling to communicate something so elusive and emotion-laden as a why.

But this is what truly motivates nearly every purchasing decision. Whether buying a car or hiring a consultant, we are motivated not by the ingredients on the tin, but by what the experience will be and how it will ultimately change our lives.

To wit: Why do we buy iPods, when there are dozens of cheaper MP3 players on the market, each with similar storage capacity and user interface? It’s because Apple has long focused its brand voice on the why, as Sinek demonstrates above. The result? We stand in line to get the latest iPhone or iPad…simply for the experience of owning an Apple product. What other electronics manufacture can claim that?

There is a parallel to your company’s brand, whether you operate in a B2B environment or B2C world. The trick is investing the care, time and energy to discovering the why…and not settling for the what.