The 'Why' Foundation
The word 'Paradigm' has been chucked around a fair bit of late. I'd like to chuck it around a bit more, if you don't mind.
I believe we are heading into, and are in fact already in - a new paradigm of business. This new age (well I can't keep using the 'P' word ad nauseam) is about purpose and authenticity. People are waking up to their purpose - and if they're not already doing work of some kind that takes them towards achieving this purpose, they are becoming disgruntled, disconnected and discombobulated.
The impact of this shift on the way we communicate is far-reaching. In the good old (or is that bad old?) days you could tell people what you did - dress it up in pretty packaging - add a (made up) point of difference, advertise it with a semi-clad model, and Bob's-your-live-in-lover: people bought it. Easy - let's have an agency party to celebrate, and don't forget the cocaine in the toilets for the brain-fried creatives.
Not so today. People are asking 'Why' - why are you making your footwear in Bangladeshi factories which are falling down and killing the workers who are making your hugely expensive products? Why are you buying from sub-contractors who regularly pollute the waterways around their factories? What do you stand for and why are you in business? These questions simply were not asked 20 years ago - so why are consumers and customers asking them now? Because of the shift I mentioned earlier.
So what does this mean to the struggling entrepreneur and business owner? It means you have to work out your 'Why' and connect it to the products and services you offer. Simon Sinek does a marvellous job of explaining 'why' is so important - so I don't propose rehashing that argument. But what I would like to do is to propose a simple model - which I'll call 'The Why Foundation' - to explain how I believe the new communication model should and does work. So here it is:
Starting with 'Why' as our foundation, we build a bridge between our 'natural uniqueness' - made up of our higher purpose, our beliefs and our 'secret ingredient' - and the main problem we solve for our clients. Then - and only then - do we develop and refine what we do and how we do it. Once we've established this why - it can be used time and time again to develop new products and services, all with the same (and unique) 'why' as the foundation.
And this is exactly how we communicate to people as a Brand Story. You can start by explaining the problem you solve - or you can start with why you do the work you do - either way is fine. But you don't - under any circumstances - charge in to explain what you do, without first explaining your 'why.' The reasons for this I'll go into in more detail another time, but it partly explained by the 'new paradigm,' and partly to do with how we now understand the human brain works when we make choices.
So next time you're planning a new product launch, or you're developing website content to explain what you do - please remember that 'why' is far more important than 'what' these days.