Those of you who have seen Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk “How great leaders inspire action” would know the line, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”. (If you haven’t seen his talk, then stop what you’re doing and watch it here.)
Your “why” is the reason your business exists. It’s the difference you can make for your clients. The thing that drives you to keep doing what you’re doing. It’s how your target market can connect with you. And yet, as Sinek points out in his talk, a lot of business are missing their “why”. They know what they do. The might even have a good grasp of how they do it. But surprisingly few can articulate why they do it.
“And what’s the problem with that?”, you might ask. Well, let’s take a look at how discovering your “why” is important, and how it helps you to build your brand.
Why your business needs a “why”
What happens if you don’t have a clearly defined purpose? Well, without a purpose — a reason for what you do — what you’re left with would simply be your products or services themselves. The issue with that is that on their own, products and services aren’t necessarily all that inspiring.
Humans are emotional things. We like things that make us feel. And it’s hard to build an emotional response without a story, or a dream, or a personal connection.
When you know why your business does what it does, you suddenly have a way to resonate with your intended audience. You have a higher purpose for your business that’s bigger than the products or services you sell. It gives you a story to tell, or an ideal future to build. Something to draw in your clients and share with them.
This is what takes you from, “I take wedding photos” to, “I give newly-weds a way to hold and share the best memories of their special day, for years to come.”
Related post: Why you need to define your ideal client
Using your core values to define your why
I think the purpose behind your business is intricately tied to your values. As someone running a business, you have a set of core values that you believe in. And common values are a major part of what connects your business to your ideal clients.
Your core values aren’t always the same thing as your purpose, but they can help you figure out your “why”. It’s often easier to think of things that are important to you. For example:
- “I believe in giving my team members the space to take ownership of their work.”
- “Speaking directly and transparently to my client is essential for delivering good service.”
- “It’s important to use the fewest possible number of ingredients in my products.”
There will be certain beliefs and practices that are important to how you run your business. How do these values translate to your vision of an ideal reality? What are you trying to achieve or create?
Related post: The essential guide to defining your core brand values
Consider what you’re passionate about
Another way to drill down on your purpose is to define what truly drives you, deep down. What is it that really gives you joy? I believe this is so important to consider. After all, what’s the point of having a business, even a wildly profitable one, if it doesn’t make you happy?
The thing about being passionate about something, is that passion can be contagious. If you feel strongly about something, it’s easier to sell the idea to others. It’s easier to be driven towards a goal you’re excited and enthusiastic about.
Something you’re driven towards — that sounds like a good “why”, doesn’t it?
How do you measure success?
When you’re building a business, it’s easy to get all caught up in the numbers. How much you’re making. How many people are on your email list. Page visits. Follower counts. Conversions.
I’m not saying you should ignore those things (I happen to think numbers are incredibly important) but beyond those kinds of things, how do you measure the success of your business? What are you really setting out to achieve? Not just for yourself, but for the people your business serves? What kind of impact do you want to have on their lives?
If you can break down what you do down to the goals you have and the achievements you want to reach, you’ll have a far clearer idea of what the purpose behind your business really is.
Once you figure out your “why”, put it at the core of everything you do. Your branding, your marketing, your sales strategy. It should all come back to communicating why you do what you do. Why your business exists. Not only is this going to give your business a convincing, authentic voice, but it’s going to attract your ideal audience. Other people who believe what you believe and want to be part of what you’re creating.
Want some more guidance as you develop your “why” and other foundational components of your brand? Click here to get your free PDF download of the Core Brand Pillars Workbook.
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