To inspire brand loyalty, ask why, not how

Please note that this post was originally published on July 20, 2010. As a result, any external links or videos used may no longer be functional.

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

This quote by Simon Sinek eloquently captures a key concept I’ve presented in previous posts (“‘Why’ uncover strategic insights?“). That is, the strongest brands (sometimes called affinity brands) are centered around intangible attributes, not tangible ones. They stand for some greater purpose or ideal than simply making money. Being true to some inner value is attractive to those consumers who share the same value.

Previously, I have used Patagonia as an example of a loyalty-inspiring affinity brand. It seems to sell outdoor clothing practically as an afterthought to environmentalism. “For us, a love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them.”

In this video at, Sinek discusses why some organizations inspire loyalty, while others don’t. The goal, he says, is to sell to people who believe in what you believe. To understand, ask why your organization exists, not what it makes. His examples of inspirational leaders include Apple, the Wright brothers, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thanks to @emilystoddard of DVQ Studio for pointing me toward this presentation.

For more on this topic, read:

This entry was posted in authenticity, brand essence, loyalty.

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