“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”


Innovation is perhaps the cornerstone of our modern society, and for good reason. Innovation helps us progress; it heals us, enriches us, and entertains us. It connects us as a people in ways prior generations could never have dreamed. But all too frequently, marketers with raw ambition aim to catapult their campaigns into fresh, new territories simply to be the newest or the most different, all without a clear motive in mind.

Perhaps one of the biggest buzzwords across industries today, innovation is the driving force of thousands of initiatives embarked upon each year by companies and their marketing teams, big and small. Yet for the thousands of new companies and products put forth into the marketplace, very few stick around long enough to make a huge impact in the way we as humans live our lives. That’s because most self-proclaimed innovators are eagerly in pursuit of the what without a truly impassioned why.

Simon Sinek outlines this point very poignantly with his concept of the Golden Circle. Perhaps the key takeaway from Sinek’s concept is this: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” 

As an agency, we work to develop strategies for our clients that expand on this very principle. We recommend our clients aim to answer the following before they embark on any new marketing or branding campaign. Not only does it allow them to get to the root of the why behind their innovational work, but it also saves them the hassle of needing to realign an already in-motion project later down the line:

  1. Why is my company important or special to its industry?*
  2. Why should a customer choose my product over others in the marketplace, and what benefits does my product have over the competition?
  3. Why should existing and potential customers align themselves with my company?

*This is perhaps one of the most important questions your company could ever hope to answer because it is the single-most important factor in assessing your necessity and relevance to your industry.

Innovation is an intangible what, qualitative in nature, and therefore cannot be measured by the numerical data you’ll no doubt reference to assess your campaign’s success. Thus, innovation on its own will not suffice as a motivational tool for any initiative. 

Instead, consider the ultimate customer experience that could be had with your brand and the output from your innovational endeavor. Ultimately, you most likely want to enhance the user’s life in one way or another. But how, and again, why? 


For this reason, we believe that at every step of the brand development process, checking the pulse of a project’s decisions is crucial. The appropriate answer to any choice driving a creative or content process should never be “because that’s what everyone else is doing”. Riding the coattails of another shop’s innovation will always, without fail, lead you farther away from what’s truly authentic for your company, and lead you closer to the clutter.


"Instead of asking “WHAT should we do to compete?” the questions must be asked, “WHY did we start doing WHAT we’re doing in the first place, and WHAT can we do to bring our cause to life considering all the technologies and market opportunities available today?"

In marketing, like in life, it’s often all too tempting to take the road of least resistance. At the end of the day, opting to ride the coattails of another organization means one essential thing for your brand: someone else is not only in the lead (leaving you in its shadow), but that leader is also in the driver’s seat, dictating the journey for yours, despite the inherent company to company idiosyncrasies.

And so, we believe that only by first identifying the why behind your company’s what can your organization truly experience authentic brand growth. When people can align themselves with your company’s values and innovational spirit, they will care about your company’s output.

We believe the key reason to buck the trends lies in that very point. The things that make your company unique to its industry are the very points that justify your company’s existence and relevance to its market. But in marketing, foregoing the tried and true in search of a new idea or way of communicating with consumers can mean the difference between a campaign that merely satisfies the status quo and one that is truly groundbreaking.

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