Start with Why
Inspire Action—Take Your Why from Concept to Creation
Authenticity is a major part of what makes a brand approachable. In the competition for sales and donations, it’s the organizations that relate an authentic brand that cross the finish line first. But how exactly do you present authenticity and win the hearts of your audience first, then their minds?
Knowing the why behind what you do is integral in creating a brand that leads to loyal customers and inspires action.
The idea of Starting with Why comes from Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk in 2009. He initiated the notion that your why is the foundation of everything you do. It’s your reason for being and why your audience should care about you. It’s the why, he says, that really matters.
Take runners, for example. Runners who complete marathons year after year don’t run just to get fit or lose weight. It’s not a quick fix for them. Often, these lifelong runners do it because it brings them joy and feelings of accomplishment as they crush their best race time and feed their body’s thirst for movement, or it relieves stress and helps them take on the world stronger and more determined than when they started. It’s their why that makes them want to run in the first place.
So, what they do is run, but why they do it is something greater. It’s their why that makes them a “runner” rather than just another “person who runs.”
For companies, starting with why tells your story from the inside out. The most innovative organizations tell the why (their purpose), then explain the how (their process), and then close the deal with the what (their product).
To sum up this concept, Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”
That’s it, code cracked. Close the page.
Okay, okay…wait, it’s a little more involved than that.
Though it sounds easy enough, defining your company’s why—the beliefs that drive your mission or reason for being—is like running a marathon. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide to do it. You need to prepare and start at the beginning.
Start With The Basics
Ask yourself these deep, important questions about your company:
- Who are you?
- What do you value?
- What are you doing/changing/inspiring/revolutionizing with your product or service?
- Why do you want to do it?
- What are your hopes for the future?
- What are your goals?
Do you have your answers? Perfect. You’re already halfway there.
Write It Down
The next step is to consolidate all of these responses into a logical, meaningful, and relatable why statement.
Here are some examples to inspire you:
- Apple: think differently and challenge the status quo
- Airbnb: to connect millions of people through a community marketplace—so that you can belong anywhere
- Uber: transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone
And one more for good measure—ours!
- Graphcom: to achieve the best results in a collaborative environment where passion, innovation, and creative expression unite
These whys represent the creative thinking, foundation, culture, and evolution of these companies. At a glance, you understand who they are and what they do, but more importantly why they do it. You can then decide if your whys align. If they do, you’re more likely to buy what they’re selling.
Make It Your Brand
Once the answers are boiled down to one concise statement, it’s time to push it further. Take Airbnb for example. You’ve read their why statement; how would you incorporate their why into their brand or a marketing campaign?
We’ll let you in on the answer: Belong Anywhere.
What took a questionnaire to explain, a sentence to summarize, and a lot of collaboration to form, is now just simply two words.
Those two words lay the foundation for their brand. Because now, belonging anywhere is represented in all of their content. The symbol of their logo, the blogs they write, their entire website design reflects their why: “belong anywhere.”
With your why statement front and center, and your tagline carefully crafted, you’re ready to take on a full branding initiative that pushes your message to the next level. Your why should be a part of everything that you do and create from here on out. From the biggest to the smallest elements, every visual, emotional, textual, or even subconscious detail should be in line with your why. Partnering with an experienced marketing agency helps you take your organization’s why from a cluster of ideas all the way to a sleek and accessible brand, one that’s represented consistently across all platforms.
So, Sinek got it right when he said to start with why, but it’s what you do after you start that gets results.