Start with why

Written by Quietroom

In his book ‘Start With Why’, an expanded version of his TED talk hit, Simon Sinek sets out his theory that loyal customers buy the ‘why’ of a brand rather than the ‘what’.

They love the brands they love because of what the brand stands for or believes in, rather than the things it sells.

Sinek’s central example is Apple. Apple is not a computer company. It’s a company that believes in thinking differently, and in challenging the status quo. They also make computers. They make loads of other things too, and their loyal customers lap them all up. But, says Sinek, those customers don’t do that because they prefer Apple’s products over other companies’. They do it because they believe in what Apple believes.

Thinking and talking about ‘why’ you do something before ‘what’ you do is a useful idea for businesses.

  • It can motivate your staff, both to work hard and to stay with you. Just as a loyal customer will choose products from the brand they love even if the products are no better or cheaper than a competitor’s, so an employee can be more motivated to work for a great idea than for a great wage.
  • Like all aspects of a well-formed brand, it can help you make quick, instinctive and good decisions. If an option fits what you believe in, what you stand for, then it’s the right one for you.
  • It engages your customers and potential customers at a level that is much more valuable than simply the benefits of a product. When your customer ‘gets’ you, you become their friend. As a result, they’ll stick with you through the bad times.
  • It stops you having to constantly compete on price, quality and features. That’s a battle that has few winners, and which produces no loyal customers for anyone.
  • When your ‘why’ is clear to everyone, it’s easier to organise ‘how’ you do things, and ‘what’ you do. Decisions flow naturally from a clear ‘why’.

At Quietroom, we often help our clients think and talk about their ‘why’. This can take the form of a ‘core story’ that describes the beginnings of the company, what it set out to do, where it’s got to, and where it’s going. Documents like this can help a company express itself more clearly to its own people, and more convincingly to its customers.