Have you ever tried to have a conversation with an inquisitive little kid, when they keep asking you “Why? Why? Why?” to no end?
I haven’t. But I’ve seen it done. And I imagine it would be pretty frustrating all-in-all. Personally, I would probably turn to the good ol’ “Because I told you so,” or the iconic “Because it really do be like that sometimes.” With more persistence, however, you could keep digging, down to the very foundation of the system at hand, often revealing scientific and philosophical truths that have plagued humankind for centuries, all brought to light through the slightly irritating albeit brilliant mind of a child.
As arduous of a task as it is to get down to these roots, it’s all too essential when drilling down your brand’s purpose. Your purpose is deeper than your “what,” and even deeper than your “how” — it’s the ever-elusive “why.” It’s the fuel to your flames; the wind beneath your wings; the reason your brand metaphorically gets up in the morning. Why do you do it?
Your first answer might seem obvious: to turn a profit, to grow in size or scope, to reach a certain oddly specific quantitative goal that was set long ago by someone you don’t know. But while those things are important, they’re not your purpose.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not going to lie to you or give you the “It’s not about the money!” go-around because, let’s face it, the world is round and every business is about money, in an indirect way. But, running with this ever-expanding “what gets your brand up in the morning” metaphor, money and specific quantitative goals are like the coffee. They will help fuel your day-to-day work, they’ll make things a heck of a lot easier, and the idea of them (or, smell) might physically pull you out of bed and into the kitchen. But if it weren’t for the deeper, inner-core “why,” you wouldn’t have made that coffee in the first place.
To cut through the metaphors: You have to know your brand’s purpose, your deep-down “why,” before you can build the “how” and the “what.” Take a long look in the mirror. Sit with your thoughts. Schedule a team heart-to-heart. Really nail down that end-of-the-line reason why your brand is doing the work it does, or get someone from the outside to add a new perspective and help you do that.
Maybe it’s to break through systemic barriers and expand opportunities for historically marginalized populations. Maybe it’s to make the community a more sustainable place, so future generations can enjoy this beautiful world just as much as we can. Or maybe it’s simply to spread joy through [insert your product here]. Whatever it is, defining this overarching, high-level purpose will outline the map for how your brand will get there.
If you really, truly want your audience to go all-in and commit to your cause, you’ve got to go all-in and commit to your cause. You’ve got to get past the surface and look inward. You’ve got to face some truths you might not like, and be open to change if necessary. You’ve got to find your “why.” Because when you finally get there, it will show. And when it shows, your audience will finally feel something.