The fierce competition in the business world results in many small businesses going out of business within their first two years.

To survive in such competitive fields, brands strive to be unique and different to set themselves apart from their competitors. While many companies seek to differentiate their brands, they usually end up fitting in the same box as their rivals. This is especially prevalent with how potential customers perceive them—after all, how different can a marketing agency be? Or how unique could a food delivery service be?

Many similar brands will assume their quality and messaging will differentiate them, but don't understand the way audiences digest their communications.

How a business communicates its brand to the consumers is crucial because it determines the customers' perceptions of the brand. By starting with the right messages, businesses can focus on living out their brand purposes while ensuring transparent communication with the consumers.

This is why having a clear strategy can set fuel great ideas with even better growth.

Simply put, without defining strategies you may never make it past the first hurdles.

The Problem.

When businesses introduce their brands, they often follow a simple line of thinking... either purposefully or intuitively:

  • What they do.
  • How they do it.
  • Why they do it.

Generally, businesses often emphasize the 'What' and 'How'. The 'Why' might be left behind or not prioritized. Yet, this is a problematic approach because that is how almost every business speaks about their brand—and it's not what customers seek.

The truth is:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. - Simon Sinek

Businesses often confuse the driving force behind any customer purchase. They miss some key considerations if they simply assume the purchase stems from how their products or services meet the consumers' needs.

If the consumers are only making purchases based on their needs, many brands would become irrelevant because buyers would opt for the most convenient choices every time. As an example, a supermarket's 'own brand' cola may immediately eclipse major brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi...in blind taste tests the result would solidify that the taste difference is minimal. So why do people pay up to six or seven times the price for products or services almost identical in end result or function?

The Golden Circle.

One answer to this question lies within the 'Golden Circle'.

Two businesses may offer the same products and/or services to their customers, but it doesn't imply a shared vision and mission. Likewise, 'Why' a business chose to do what they do can be the most important (and differentiating) message in the process and therefore it should be prioritized.

The Golden Circle.

For example, if Nike's only goal was to sell athletic sportswear and gain profit from it, it would be hugely unlikely they'd have gained as much success. After all, there are so many options for quality sportswear, with many higher quality alternatives at a cheaper price-point.

Yet, Nike has positioned itself as a market leader, backed by an impressive catalogue of sporting icons showcasing their products. The message is sent that the best of the best choose Nike, so naturally, aspiring athletes are persuaded to follow suit.

The 'Why' element sets a brand apart from its competitors because it communicates the unique 'brand essence' to the audience, and the resulting brand pyramid values.

The Brand Essence.
Building a brand is an exciting process, and at the heart of it all, is the brand essence.

What makes Nike a successful brand today is because it started with the 'Why'.

Instead of presenting themselves as another athletic sportswear merchant, their purpose was to produce a meaningful brand that embodies their vision and mission in the athletic field.

Nike exists to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
Our Purpose is to move the world forward through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all.
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
- Nike

As social beings, humans like to feel included and connected. By simply reversing the order of the 'what, how, why' questions, we create a powerful message to consumers. The Why communicates to the consumers that they are not only buying new athletic sportswear, but they have also become a part of a positive movement; part of the collective of top performing athletes sporting such clothing and accessories.

Great customer relationships are built upon trust. Customers like to feel inspired by ideas that resonate with their values and beliefs. You have to make them believe in why you do what you do to give them reasons to choose your brand.

If your business is ran with ambiguity, you won't strongly appeal to your audience because there will be nothing special or defining about your brand. Basically, you'd be just like the rest, and the idea is to be unique.

This is especially important with Generation Z, a consumer market more driven by values than ever before.

Customer experience is salient to a brand because it is what generates brand loyalty and customer retention.

Loyal customers spend 67% more on products and services than new customers.

The Customer Journey.
When you’re close to your own product or service, it can be difficult to fully understand the entirety of the ‘customer journey’. Mapping out the process of all potential touch-points between your brand and customers will allow you to greatly optimize processes to improve experiences.

Find Your Why.

The 'Start With Why' approach allows brands to focus and hone their strengths. Sometimes, when you're too close to your brand, you won't see the flaws and lose sight of the brand purpose. Therefore, it's useful to perform a brand audit to allow you and your team to think strategically and ensure everyone has full sight of your business goals and values. It allows a structure to build a roadmap to success.

Every brand should have a purpose. For businesses to communicate their brand purpose(s) to their target consumers, their team must firstly be aligned with said purpose—this is where creating a 'Why' statement can be beneficial.

Your 'Why' statement doesn't have to be a one-page essay for it to be impactful. Rather, simplicity is key. Your 'Why' statement should be concise yet powerful enough to communicate what the brand stands for.

Here are some of the strong 'Why' statements from famous brands:

  • Coca Cola: To refresh the world and inspire moments of optimism and happiness.
  • Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.
  • Microsoft: To empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
  • Mäd: To make meaningful and permanent improvements to our client’s business, while providing an environment for our team to flourish.

To help you determine your 'Why' statement, these are the key elements that you should include:

  • Simplicity and transparency.
  • Practicality.
  • How it contributes to the audience.
  • How it resonates with your brand.

When crafting the statement, here are two key considerations:

Highlight Value Propositions.

Also known as KVPs (Key Value Propositions).

Value propositions are essential in the process of finding your 'Why' because they offer you a bird's-eye view of your brand by focusing on why the customers would choose your products or services over any competitors.

Following this, businesses can assess and evaluate their brand(s) thoroughly while also discovering new opportunities for potential growth.

Define High-Level Purpose.

When identifying your brand purpose, you may have to dig deep to find the true essence of your brand. As aforementioned, the brand pyramid exercise is beneficial for defining your essence.

A brand purpose goes beyond 'what generates revenue'. It is a high-level goal that defines what you wish to achieve. Defining this helps develop sustainable routes to maintain that goal in the long-term. When making key business decisions, (such as any new offerings, expansions, or general developments), you should ask "How does this decision reflect our brand purpose?".

By referring to the brand purpose, you can maintain the authenticity of your brand and ensure you don't accidentally spurn or alienate your audience.

Improving Messaging.

Armed with a strong Why statement, and a complete Golden Circle, brands can instantly benefit by assessing any existing messaging to see if their purpose shines through. When referring to advertising, David Ogilvy echos the importance of communicating with such purpose rather than simple marketing tricks:

When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it 'creative.' I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. -  David Ogilvy

This sparks an interesting question. Does communicating purpose truly triumph over catchy slogans, or flashy imagery? Many successful brands operate with dubiously planned messaging, suggesting that consumers may not always need the purpose spelled out to them... but, our rebuttal to such examples is that improving the messaging would further increase brand effectiveness.

As an example, we have picked some brands to examine. For this, we look at their 'hero messaging' on their website home pages—often regarded as the most important and impactful section for a brand's digital communications.

Optimizing Landing Pages.
Learn our approach to building high-conversion landing pages that create business results.
Eggzy App: Focus & Time Keeper.

Eggzy leads with a simple explanation of what they offer. Whilst this is ok, it does not offer any value over why consumers should pick Eggzy over many other strong competitors.

Our recommended revision for this would be:

Eggzy is an app that helps limit your mobile screen time so you can focus on what's more important in life.

By stating the benefits and aims of Eggzy, the hero statement communicates clear positivity that addresses a potential issue with a clear solution.

To map out their Golden Circle, the Eggzy define may define something similar to the following:

  • Why: To limit user screen time so that they can stay focused on their daily tasks.
  • How: Gamify non-phone usage by allowing eggs to hatch into animals if users do not use their phone for set time lengths.
  • What: A mobile application to boost productivity.

A secondary example of relatively weak messaging could be found via Doordash.

DoorDash: Delivering Good.

Whilst the slogan is clever and promotes an element of CSR, too much is left to the users' imagination. Again, when faced with lots of choice the initial hero message feels underused here.

Our approach for this would be:

'DoorDash is a food delivery app that takes care of your day-to-day errands, so you're able to spend quality time with your family and friends—or enjoy your 'me' time'.

Following The Golden Circle:

  • Why: To take care of day-to-day errands, so you're able to spend quality time with those who matter to you.
  • How: By delivering food reliably within a set time limit.
  • What: A food delivery application.

In both examples, the improved messaging aims to offer stronger communication that will retain customers. Seeking to differentiate from your competitors is powerful, and yet our further advice would be take competition in an unexpected direction:

Become Your Own Competition.

Doing business in an environment where competition is fierce often creates a mindset that you have to compete with others for your businesses to gain relevancy in the public eye.

When you’re up against the world, competing with everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you. - Simon Sinek

This is the factor that forces your businesses to fit in the same box as your competitors. When you are fixated on other businesses, you'll often find yourself so invested in their businesses that you forget about your business and your brand purpose. While it is important to be aware of the environment you are in and the people you are competing with, it can be detrimental when you shift your businesses' main focuses to others.

From time to time, it is easy for businesses to fall into the trap of having an identity crisis. This moves them further away from their own purpose, with misplaced attention towards competitor identities and values.

By becoming your own competition, businesses are able to focus on themselves and how they can continue to action and improve their 'Why'.

Being your own competition is an empowering process because not only do you get a deeper knowledge of your brand in its entirety, but it also allows you to inspire other people who are working with.  This leads on to reiterating the importance of ensuring your own 'people' are onboard with your why statement, and understand the reason your brand exists:

Internal Alignment.

If you want your audience to believe in your 'Why', it must start internally and work outwardly to the public. While it is easy to hire people based on their skill set and working experience, it doesn't imply that your staff will believe in your brand communications...

Obviously, it is important for your staff to believe in your brand purpose because the 'Why' element is the inspiration behind the work that they do for your business. Teams need to buy in to the reason a brand exists, to ensure the output reflects the claims made—transparency promotes trust.

At Mäd, we are a result-oriented team, and we let our work justifies for our brand. We're confident in delivering a high-impact and high-quality work that exceeds our clients' expectations because it's not just our executive team who believes in our 'Why', but the entire Mäd team believes in our brand purpose.

When you have an empowered and aligned team by your side, higher goals become more visible and achievable—at speed.

Inspire Your Audience.

As sales strategies are getting more aggressive, it has influenced customer behavior in a significant manner. From the gigantic billboards displayed on the main streets to social media advertisements, consumers are constantly being sold to on a daily basis.

Since consumers are bombarded with advertisements every day, an immunity and distrust of advertisements has developed. This undoubtedly makes messaging much more challenging, and again places focus on transparency and honesty.

By clearly defining your 'Why' to the public audience, it creates a space for your brand in the customers' minds because you're not giving the same cliché speech as everyone else in the market.

Following this, it helps you stand out from the crowd. Once the audience can identify your brand purposes,  they will be more open to welcoming brand messaging.

Let others explore your business through your eyes.

The goal is to let your brand purpose inspire your audience and turn them into loyal customers. According to the Roger's Innovation Adoption Curve, when you have successfully convinced your initial loyal customers (early adopters), you will reach 'The Chasm' or the tipping point where the early adopters will convince other people to follow.

Pitching to the Neophiliacs.
Recognizing that many favour the tried, tested and safe, means innovators should narrow their focus. I.e. Whom their target audience will be in the short-term.

Therefore, what businesses should aim to do is to make their brand purposes clear so that they can inspire like-minded consumers that can help to inspire other people to believe in your brand. Word of mouth is forever the most powerful catalyst for massive growth.

Final Thoughts.

An effective brand is one that fights for a cause.

At Mäd, we believe that a brand is more than just delivering fulfilment of a customer's needs but also how their products or services make the customers feel.

Therefore, we strive to help our clients Make It Happen™ with their brands.

Finding your Why defines purpose, motivates teams, inspires customers, generates a loyal fanbase, and ultimately builds awesome brands. So, Start with Why, and turbocharge your messaging and output.