Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle principle

As a marketeer, chances are you have heard of the ‘Golden Circle’ principle. This concept was conceived by Simon Sinek, who argues the following: "People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

Start from the 'why' (not the 'what')

When determining their positioning, most companies start from the ‘what?’ What do we do? What do we make? What do we want to say?

Companies that focus on their customers start from the ‘why’. Why do we do what we do and why is that important for our customers?



Golden circle


An example: Apple does it

A simple and frequently used example is Apple. I know that Apple doesn’t represent the average B2B company, but it clarifies a few things. Imagine that Apple started from the ‘what’: “We make great computers. They are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. Want to buy one?”

That’s not a lie, but it’s not very inspiring or differentiating. The smart marketeers at Apple formulate it like this, from the 'why':

With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?

Why is this so important?

You instinctively feel that this ‘why approach’ is better. There is even a scientific explanation for this:

  • if we communicate ‘what’ then we appeal to the analytical part of our brain (the neocortex).
  • If we talk about ‘why’ and ‘how’ then emotions and human behaviours are concerned (they are driven by our limbic brain).

And we all know that ratio is usually no match for emotions.

The more rational your product, the more important it is to create an emotional connection with your potential customers. By training them, helping them and starting conversations.

How do you use the Golden Circle?

As we said, it’s all about these three questions:

  1. Why – Why do we do what we do? What is your ultimate aim?
  2. How – How do we solve problems for our customers? Or how do we help them achieve their objectives?
  3. What – What do we offer? What do we make? And what are the advantages of this?

This model isn’t only handy when determining your positioning. You can also use it when creating content or developing new products or services.

Focusing on your customer is simply a good idea. Let’s keep it at that.