THE BLOG
05/31/2016 02:14 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2017

Why "Why" Isn't Enough

As a millennial entrepreneur, I was greatly influenced by Simon Sinek's 2009 TED talk "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" and the introduction of his Golden Circle. Heck, we founded a company on it. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that if you say our last names fast enough we could pass off as kin.

In his talk, Simon makes a convincing argument that, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." He explains that great brands and leaders inspire customer loyalty by speaking from the heart of their purpose.

I dug deeper into his theory and noticed that the "why" wasn't enough. I'm not saying it's wrong or faulty, but it needed more to it. So my team and I developed the "Authentic Arrow" as an amendment to the Golden Circle.

The Authentic Arrow is a pairing to Sinek's Golden Circle; how can you meet the bullseye without pointing in the right direction? Yes, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it; but they only believe in the why if it's authentic.

It would be like if Lamborghini decided that since they make high-quality cars that from now on they're going to donate a Lambo to a child every time they sell a car. It just doesn't make sense. There's a disconnect and the authenticity is non-existent.

The Authentic Arrow is made up of three parts that build upon each other.

First we have the base, the "quality". Everyone will preach that they have the "highest quality" or are made with the "finest materials" and this grabs the attention of consumer. Now that you have their ear, what are you going to tell them next? They need the inside scoop to further validate why your products are as great as you claim them to be.

The next block building this arrows is "transparency". How do you do what you do, what is the level of transparency ? Do your employees and consumers have a complete understanding of how you do what you do? This is where some brands struggle. Consumers want to feel like you're laying it all out on the table for them. That your process isn't something you're afraid to expose.

The last part of our arrow is the point, the "authenticity". Why is it that you do what you do? Why do you make what you make; why do you provide what you provide? This is where your authenticity lies; at the point of your direction. Your authenticity is what will resonate with your consumers. It is the purpose of your brand and it requires you to dig deeper to find your meaning beyond making a profit. Authenticity is legitimacy and the legitimacy leads to the why.

All parts of this arrow are crucial, but keep in mind..without authenticity, the arrow is pointless.
If you are missing this authentic component, then you're missing the point of your business.

For example, a couple years ago, a KFC franchise owner launched a donation campaign for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) because of an employee's family member who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. They decided to raise money for the foundation by doing a promo on one of their most high-profit margin items, their half-gallon soda. For every purchase they would donate $1 to JDFR. One thing they forgot to take into consideration was the fact that there is 800 calories and 56 spoonfuls of sugar in that product and the irony that cause when supporting a diabetes foundation. The why had the great intent, but obviously the authenticity of the "why" was lacking.

It's crucial to stay true to yourself and stay true to your brand. More so than ever consumers need that authenticity to commit as a loyal customer. They're looking for brands with a commitment to their mission and to take them along for the ride.