A Fresh Way of Thinking.
As humans, we crave a sense of belonging. It’s in our DNA and an existential need. We want to be around people and organizations who are like us and share our values and beliefs so much that we form communities and cultures based on mutual values and beliefs, which inversely breeds a sense of trust and relationship. This feeling only comes from having a common set of beliefs and values.
To build trust and a relationship between you and your customers — You must be able to articulate your brand values and aspirations to customers that share the same or similar values in simple and clear terms.
Your brand mission and values must be understood inside and out, before advertising or promoting your business, as misplaced brand values within a Marketing strategy will at best lead to misfiring campaigns — at worst, it can lead to long term damage for your brand.
When you promote your products or services to customers that share the same belief and values, you create communities and a sense of belonging. Your products then become a symbol of shared beliefs.
Central to this shift is a fresh way of thinking, to Inspire rather than manipulate.
To inspire, you need a well-structured marketing framework tailored to your business that enables you to craft the right messages and experience that put you in front of your target audience, at the right time and place ahead of the competition.
Marketers are increasingly managing customer journeys, as they would any product to ensure at every customer touchpoint the messages, customer experiences within each medium, and channel consistently promotes shared values between the brand and customers alike.
So rather than merely reacting to the trends, behaviors, and journeys that consumers themselves devise, your brand can lead by shaping the paths that lead to lasting adoption and loyalty — leading rather than following and restoring the balance of power by exchanging value between your brand and the customer. You also create brand equity by building and communicating your brand to the right audience.
The only way people will know what you believe in is by the things you say and do, and if you’re not consistent and clear on both, no one will know what you believe. You might argue, there are plenty of successful companies whose primary motivation is to make money — that’s a fair argument. But as we established earlier, if your business aims to be successful in the long term, your goal should be to build a strong brand that stands out from the competition rather than is short term financial gains.
To build trust with your followers and customers, you need authenticity — What does that mean in practice? It means WHAT your Business does and HOW you do business has to resonate and be consistent with WHY you’re in business. They all need to work together in harmony. People can detect inconsistencies, and when they do, they perceive you as inauthentic, and you erode trust.
Your WHY is the reason your Brand exist.
The concept of inspiring vs manipulating based on Simon Sinek’s best selling book Starting with Why- In his book Simon provides a useful framework for his approach to leadership: The Golden Circle:
At the center of the Golden Circle is WHY. The next concentric circle is HOW. And finally, the outermost circle is WHAT- Simon explains that every company knows WHAT they do and can clearly articulate the features and benefits of their products or services.
Few companies also know HOW they do WHAT they do — their unique differentiators and their value proposition, but very few companies know or can clearly articulate WHY their business matters — their purpose, their cause, or their belief. WHY is the reason your business exists and why anyone should care.
He further explains that since the WHAT is the easiest to know and articulate, most companies start with WHAT by running Ads to communicate and promote their product-centered around its features and benefits. Sometimes they will also discuss HOW, but they rarely talk about WHY.
Simon advocates that businesses should invert the order by communicating from the inside-out of the golden circle. Starting with WHY, HOW, and end with WHAT.
Reserving the order of communication by simply starting with WHY your company exists, then HOW you do what you do, and WHAT you do you, there’s no trickery or manipulation.
Sinek’s premise is this: You need to know why you’re in business — and talk about it. When a company has a strong motivation, and that motivation shines through, customers buy the product.
He uses Apple as an example of a company that understands and communicates their WHY exceptionally well. — Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign, used in the resurgence of the brand.
Steve Jobs clearly articulated the importance of value innovation, speaking about Marketing in a 1997 internal meeting at Apple. Job’s stated that at its basic Marketing is about value; he went on to call put the importance of a strong and clear mission, especially in today’s highly competitive, complicated, and noisy marketplace. Companies have to be clear about what they want their customers to know, feel, and remember about their brand, emphasizing this is done by caring and focusing on the customer.
Apple Ads they rarely talk about the features and benefit of a new iPhone or EarPods; instead, they promote the brand value — Think differently, innovation, and community. In its most recent 2019 Holiday — The Surprise Ad promoting the iPad.
The Ad creatively promoted the iPad by focusing on the customer and how the device fits and serves their needs — Value proposition. Having a common language to describe what your company is about making all subsequent decisions about visuals, voice, and identity and target customers a lot easier.
It’s easy to find other supporting examples. companies like Nike, and more recently Lululemon and Slack also fit the bill.
“People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”
Here’s a quote from Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog about the earliest days of Nike, in 1964:
“I’d been unable to sell encyclopedias, and I’d despised it to boot. I’d been slightly better at selling mutual funds, but I’d felt dead inside. So why was selling shoes so different? Because, I realized, it wasn’t selling. I believed in running. I believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and I believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing my belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, I decided. Belief is irresistible.”
Today, more than 50 years later, Nike stands for pretty much the exact same thing. Here’s their current mission statement:
Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
Nike rarely talks about its products in their marketing communications, rather they honor great athletes, people, communities and causes.
By knowing you WHY and consistently sharing it from the inside out, you make your business more appealing to people that share the same purpose or values. This inevitably builds trust and makes the buying decision more natural- Customer don’t like being sold products but they like to buy products.