Author and consultant Simon Sinek writes in his book Start with Why
that most organizations use tangible features and benefits to build a rational argument for why their company, product, or idea is better than another.
The problem with this approach is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Sinek argues that the most influential leaders and organizations – from Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy to Disney and Southwest Airlines – have all followed a pattern he calls the Golden Circle.
As you can see in the above diagram, the Golden Circle has 3 parts:
What: This is easy to identify. No matter the size of your organization or the industry in which it operates, you should be able to describe the product or service you offer.
How: You might call this your “differentiating value proposition” or “unique selling proposition” – this describes how you do what you do.
Why: Sinek notes that very few people and companies know why they do what they do. Why does your company exist? Why should anyone care?
When most people and organizations think, act, or communicate they go from the outside in, from what to why. As Sinek puts it, “they go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.”
Not the inspired ones.
For Sinek, Apple is a prime example of a company that follows the Golden Circle.
Here’s how Apple’s marketing message might read without the Golden Circle:
We make great computers.
They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly.
Wanna buy one?
Instead, Apple’s actual messaging starts with why:
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.
And we happen to make great computers.
Wanna buy one?