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Putting the “Why” in “What You Do”

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Ready to take a step from a business that “sells things” to a brand that people know and love? The kind of brand that has customers who will refuse to settle for anything else, regardless of price or features? (See: Apple, Harley Davidson, Moleskin.)

Although this process isn’t simple (that’s why we’re here, after all), there is a simple place you can start.

Ask yourself this question: Why does what we do matter to people?

Don’t just consider what you make or how people use your products directly. Take a deeper look at how your products or services fundamentally impact people’s lives and what your brand represents. Think outside of features and benefits. Think about emotion, identity, and purpose.

Whether you’re selling widgets, broomsticks, or blueberries, the first step to discovering and creating an authentic brand lies in understanding why “it” matters. Why should people be motivated to spend money with your company? (Followed by the subsequent “how” — how you do things to communicate that value.)

Consider this logical extension in the brain of a consumer:

  1. I’m buying a broom.
  2. The broom helps me keep my house clean.
  3. Having a clean house makes me feel better about having guests over.
  4. If I have more guests over, I elevate my social status.

Boom! In four steps, you just went from selling a cleaning tool to selling something deep and intrinsically valuable to people all around the globe: social status. Maybe your brand is built on the simple idea of helping people enjoy life, connect with friends and family, or ease stress.

Now, of course, there’s a lot of nuance involved in deriving emotion and communicating it effectively (see: research, insights, strategy, planning — again, this is why we still have jobs), but you can see how the intangible benefit — the experience that you create — is a powerful motivator to consumers.

You can’t create an irresistible brand by simply selling product — or features, for that matter. You have to be in the business of selling the intangible. “Sell the benefit,” as the old adage goes, and beyond.

Take that idea a step further and understand the insightful proposition that you can uniquely offer consumers. This doesn’t come easily. Connecting your product or service with a higher level of fundamental human needs and desires (oh, hey, Maslow) in a real and authentic way is what separates the great brands from commodities — it’s what separates the Apple iPod from the iRiver.

So, go ahead. Get started. Think about your business and ask yourself, “why does it matter?”

Want more on how to build a brand that people love? Download our Spotted Zebra Brand Workbook for a full guide on how you can create a brand that’s irresistible.

A branding exercise designed to separate your brand from all of the others.

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