Is Your Brand A Leader?
Is Your Brand
Consumers don’t buy products
According to Simon Sinek, they don’t buy ideas or services either. At least not until they understand the Why behind it. In his trending book Start With Why, Sinek presents his theory for “why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire while others aren’t,” which he illustrates using a model called The Golden Circle that defines the What, How, and Why of a business.
The terms as used by Simon Sinek:
- What – What the business does. The thing they sell.
- How – How the business differentiates itself. Its USP.
- Why – Why they do it. It’s a business’s purpose, cause, or belief.
In short, he argues that people are controlled by the parts of their brains that resonate with the Why, not the What. We connect with purpose, not features.
To be completely transparent, I’ve never read Start With Why. (Thankfully for you, this isn’t a book review!) However, his TED Talk is excellent. The idea he presents has created a fairly large trend in marketing and happens to tie in perfectly with my focus on building brands that build communities.
People instinctively crave a sense of purpose, just like we crave a deeper sense of identity and belonging. All of these things are commonly found in communities, and so we actively seek them out. We all want to be a part of the group. We can go into the evolutionary reasons for this, like the protection and resources that came from being in a tribe, village, or kingdom, but regardless of the reasons, we can all acknowledge that our need to belong is intricately tied to the deepest part of our brains – the part that prioritizes survival.
Because of this, giving people the space to connect and belong will never lose its power or importance. It’s not a trend that’s going away.
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
a similarity of identity.Oxford Dictionary
I want to build brands that represent more than the features and benefits of its products, but that represent a complex and purposeful personality that brings people together and gives them a sense of belonging. But thriving communities don’t just happen. They’re crafted with intention, tended to with care, and encouraged to grow. They develop under leadership.
So really, my goal is to build brands that are leaders.
A lot of brands self-identify as leaders: leaders in innovation, leaders in their industry, leaders in whatever. This brand descriptor isn’t uncommon. But is it the sales numbers or a brand’s ubiquity that really qualifies it as a leader? Indicators like these might measure a brand’s success in achieving leadership, but it’s not what makes them leaders.
To define a leader, instead of thinking in terms of brands and businesses, we can consider the definition of a human leader.
According to the Forbes article “10 Unique Perspectives On What Makes A Great Leader,” leaders have vision, they believe in their purpose, they draw people in, they motivate, inspire, and support their team, they solve problems, and they pursue initiatives that benefit people, and sometimes the world.
Brands are leaders the same way people are leaders
For a brand to be a leader, it has to represent its team (the people both inside and outside the organization), it has to motivate and inspire those people with a vision, and it has to support them in achieving it. In short, it has to be more than a machine that makes money. It has to have purpose. Because, in the end, people need purpose – the Why for what they do – and brands, at their core, are just organizations of people hoping to impact the lives of other people.
This is the part where a brand has to relate to its target market. It has to know who they are and care about the things they care about. Your brand has to take on the personality of your niche market to build the affinity and trust that comes from sharing commonalities.
As a leader, a brand must be the number one believer in its cause or purpose. No one will follow a vision that the leader itself isn’t committed to. Whether your brand sells shirts or raises funds for wildlife conservation, it has to show (not tell) the different world that’s created or life that’s possible when your client or buyer takes the desired action. Consumers have to believe in the vision.
Once the messaging has been crafted and the brand has laid out the end goal, the brand has to offer a roadmap to get there. The brand has to produce products or services that support that vision, messages that communicate it clearly and authentically, and creative ways to solve the problems that are keeping their consumers from realizing it.
So, is your brand a leader?