12/09/2013 01:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Helping Brands Speak to That Secret Space Between Our Thoughts

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

Simon Sinek's TEDTalk: "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" has over 13 million views. His focus is on answering the critical question for brands, society and people... The "WHY".

Simon explained his insights into a communication pattern that is common to all great leaders and organizations -- and the opposite of everyone else's. He shines a light on the inspirational power of brands and people who communicate from a deeper meaning within themselves by addressing these key questions: "Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed every morning? Why should we care? What is your purpose? What's your cause? What's your belief?" Powerful stuff... let's explore how it applies in our socially evolving world.

These are questions that brands usually find hard to answer and talk about effectively. But they really matter. I agree with what Simon is saying about the importance of speaking from the core and believe it is important to expand on these ideas.


Biology drives this. Simon noted that the human brain is composed of both a new and an ancient brain. Our (new) Neo cortex is "responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language". Our (old) Limbic brain is "responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It's also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language." The Limbic is what we want to target.

At the center of Simon's "golden circle" of communication is the core... the "WHY". It communicates with the part of the brain that understands belief, emotions and motivation -- which drive personal behaviors and decision-making. Great leaders and great brands speak from that space, from the inside out -- from the core first -- with "WHY", instead of "What" or "How". That is how we help brands create passion, connect with gut feelings, and find people to join our cause.

The process of answering these questions, and building content around those answers, requires a brand to find its humanity and find common connections with people. The answers are found in the brand's relationships to peoples' lives, families, adventures, friends, foods, wants, hopes, desires, plans and loves. All of these get to the feelings we have, that space in between our thoughts, that direct our non-language of like, love, dislike or don't care.


People spend time with friends in social because they are looking for human connection and meaning. When brands communicate from their "WHY" position it helps them be appropriate in social because "WHY" is always centered on people. This aligns brands with people in a meaningful and human way, based on what people care about.

Brands want to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way with people. And people who identify with what the brand believes are the brand's enthusiasts to all of their friends. They are the advocates who review the brand's goods and services online. And they are their greatest sales people across all social channels. Having a powerful basis, and effectively communicating around the "WHY", gives brands a competitive advantage that is based on human connection at a time when human connection is a powerful and inflating currency.

The ideal target is that space in between our thoughts, the "conscious unconscious" as Carl Jung called it. The "Why" as Simon calls it. When you can hit those spaces in relevant, meaningful ways, you connect with people and find people who believe what you believe.


Many companies have difficulty getting to these human answers. Brands need to examine their messaging, strategy and digital fingerprints for statements of purpose that connects them with people around health, love, travel, home, family or whatever is most appropriate. Searching through this virtual puzzle uncovers hints of that purpose. They need to find human examples of meaning and build out from there.

I believe that in social, the brand is a person. And like a person, the brand must go deeper with truth, complexity and meaning. Tapping into the archetypal characteristics of the brand makes it more likely to be believed. Done well, we all make social a better place as we serve the human spirit.

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