Branding, Culture, Entrepreneurs

Why do you do it?

Definition of Why (wī) – for what reason or purpose.

Do you know your company’s WHY? (Hint: It’s not to make money). Think about the core purpose of your business, and then think about how you market your products or services. Are they aligned? Building loyal customers is all about attracting the people who share your fundamental beliefs. People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

For many this is not always obvious, but it’s a critical step that is often overlooked. If you were (or are) the founder of your business, wouldn’t you want the people working for you to know why you started it in the first place? Understanding WHY is essential to knowing how to communicate “how” and “what” you do to the world.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” –Mark Twain

One of the most talked about and viewed TED talks comes from Simon Sinek in which he shares the importance of knowing the Why, How and What for your business.

Why – Core belief of the business, why the business exists.
How – How the business fulfills that core belief.
What – What the company does to fulfill that core belief.

His TED talk illustrates how understanding the WHY will differentiate you from your competitors. It’s your purpose, your cause, and your belief. Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care?


Sounds simple, but what Sinek found is that a lot of companies do their marketing backwards. They start with their “what” and then move to “how” they do it. Never talking about why they do what they do.

The example Sinek gives of a company who clearly understands their why is Apple. Their entire business centers on the why. It’s core to their marketing and the driving force behind their business operations. To help illustrate this point, imagine if Apple started backwards by creating a marketing message that started with “what.”

“We make great computers. They’re user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”

While these facts are true there is nothing compelling about this messaging. It is centered on their product and not the consumer. We instead want to know why they are great and user friendly. Turns out Apple has figured this out over the years and knows better. Here’s what a real marketing message from Apple might actually look like:

“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

By stating their purpose versus their product, it pulls a more emotional response especially by those that share their beliefs. As Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” Starting with “why” makes Apple more than just a computer company selling features, and that’s why their products have flourished and competitive products with similar technology and capabilities have often flopped.

“Chase your passions and money will come. Chase money and you may never find your passion.” –Colin Wright

To explore your WHY, start by asking some very simple questions.

  1. What is the company most passionate about? Is it making a difference in the world? Changing people’s lives? Keeping things simple? Securing a bright future? For Execuity, it is achieving Total World Domination for our clients.
  2. Ask your team members why they are there? What are they passionate about? Why did they take the job in the first place? This will be a key indicator of how much heavy lifting will need to be done to establish and communicate your why. If they don’t get it, it’s the first place you will need to start in crafting your message.
  3. Why do your customers buy from you? If you are an established business, step back and ask why your customers like to do business with you. Why did they buy from you in the first place? What made you different than the competition? Dig into the emotional components of the buying decision versus just the logical.

Once you and your team better understand the WHY, your passion and beliefs will become more evident to your customers. And if your passion and beliefs align with theirs, you will create a loyal following.

Linda Ruffenach

Customer experience guru, original Whisky Chick, and strong believer that roadblocks are not meant to stop you but to help you find a better path.

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