The recipe for effective communication

Brand communication often centers on what they do rather than why they do it. Consequences: fewer conversions in the short term and fewer fans in the long term. Let us now ask about this method of communication. Why can Golden Circle help you communicate without just relying on your products? How do you communicate so that your products are not only consumed, but also recommended? Let’s unpack.

1. Start with the reason

During a Ted Talk in 2010, the still unknown author Simon Sinek introduced the concept of the golden circle to the eyes (and ears) of the general public. This cult conference is now one of the most watched TED Talks ever.

Red Talk video conferencing

The Golden Circle (or Golden Circle) theory was born out of Simon Sinek’s reflection on the leadership of Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers.

According to him, the power of great leaders and inspiring organizations is to speak primarily about their deepest beliefs and convictions (why). They think, act, and communicate from the inside out. From why to what.

The problem is that most people understand ‘what’, some know ‘how’, but few understand ‘why’.

golden circle illustration

Why – why: why do you do what you do? What is your goal?

How – Comment: How are your products changing the world? What is your value proposition?

What – What: What are your products? what do you sell ?

This ’cause’ embodies your beliefs, convictions, etc. These questions can help you identify them:

  • Why do you wake up in the morning?
  • If your company no longer exists tomorrow, what would it be missing in the world?

2. The golden circle applied to Apple

How has a consumer computing company like Apple succeeded where so many brands are struggling?

It can be summed up in one sentence: Customers don’t buy what Apple does, but why Apple does it.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The goal is not to sell your product to everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to talk to people who believe in what you believe in.” Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action

If Apple is like everyone else, its advertising message might look like this: “We make great computers. (“What”) They are beautifully designed and easy to use. (“How”) Would you like one? »

In this example, Apple communicates from the outside in: the brand doesn’t know why it does what it does and doesn’t communicate it. In short, this is not optimal.

Whereas in real life, Apple takes this method of communication the wrong way. Their spots look like this:

  • In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in a different way of thinking. (“Why”)
  • Our way of challenging the status quo is to make our products beautifully designed, user friendly and easy to use (“how”)
  • And it just so happens that we make computers. Do you want one? (“what or what”)

commercial apple

Apple’s “why” is very powerful and serves the “how” and “what” of the brand. The whole forms a coherent and coherent whole. In this sense, the brand’s products are shaped according to its raison d’être.

This is how the brand manages to sell products no better than its competitors at “high ticket” prices.

Both loved and hated, Apple does not leave anyone indifferent. Fans love what Apple is. Fighters don’t understand what fans like. Discussions about Apple can lead to “deaf conversations.”

It is not enough to change the order of the sentences to become an Apple in your field. You should start with your own convictions and make them central to your discourse, strategy, and products. The perceived value of your products will increase tenfold and so will your margins. Then, you’ll be loved (and maybe even criticized a little bit).

3. Scientific explanation

Let’s give some clues of how the golden circle works.

When we express “why”, we in the axes activate the area of ​​the brain responsible for emotions and feelings (the limbic system). The limbic system directs our behaviors and beliefs.

When we express “what,” we activate in the axons the area of ​​the brain responsible for analysis and inference (neocortex). The neocortex directs our rational decisions.

brain image

Communicating by starting with the cause activates the part of the brain responsible for our emotions.

By directly addressing your customers’ feelings, your message will resonate more with your customer. He will act more easily to do what you ask him to do: buy your product, believe what you tell him, etc.

4. On the road to success

By embracing the golden circle principle, you have a great chance of experiencing success. why ? It’s not me who says that, it’s the innovation diffusion law.

The Innovation Diffusion Act is the product adoption curve developed by Everett Roger, an American sociologist and statistician.

According to this law, the population will be divided into 5 parts: innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and backward (16%). This law asserts that each innovation must convince a circle of the population before it can be extended to the next.

Innovation Diffusion Curve

To reach the mass market, it is necessary to achieve a minimum penetration rate of 16%. This rate represents innovators and first-time users (or early adopters). This law serves the interests of the Golden Circle, because it is precisely these people who buy according to their convictions.

Back at Apple, the early adopters are the people queuing for hours outside the Apple Store to get the latest iPhone.

On the other side of the curve are rebellious people waiting until the last minute to embrace an innovation. It’s important to get to know them so you don’t try to shift them.

Your goal is to align with the “why” to find and convince customers who believe what you believe. Once the innovators and early adopters are convinced, they themselves will push other areas to follow.

The leader spurs his card. The leader inspires through his charm.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014, was active. He is a “how” type leader.

Microsoft co-founder Steve Jobs (albeit very conservative) has a charismatic personality. He’s a “why” type leader.

Pictures of Palmer and Bill Gates

Charismatic leaders are more dreamy, have unyielding optimism and focus on the future. They are working on a company vision.

Active leaders are more realistic, they focus on building better what people perceive. They work on the mission of the company.

Sinek says active leaders like Ballmer can be very effective, but they rarely build companies that reach huge valuations like Apple or Microsoft.

In the other direction, a charismatic leader (Steve Jobs) cannot live without an active leader. Together with each charismatic leader is an active leader. Because it is impossible to inspire without motivation.

The appeal of your brand is the “why”. The energy of your brand is the “how”. Start with your inspiring ‘why’ to find the ‘how’ to adequately motivate your customers.

6. Long-term risks

At the beginning of the adventure, passion will guide your thoughts. Then, over time, it may collapse.

Take the case of Volkswagen, which means “people’s car” in German. The brand has always had an image associated with affordable cars for everyone. The original ladybird was the spearhead of freedom and a simple life. On the day the brand launched the $70,000 Phaeton, sales were disastrous.

why ? It was a car diametrically opposed to the brand’s initial reason for being.

Maintaining the discipline of moving the “why” for years faithful to your beliefs is a necessity to continue.

It’s also a necessity to maintain motivation. “Working long hours in a company is difficult. Spending long hours for a cause is easy.” – Elon Musk

To keep going and stay motivated, always keep your focus on the ‘why’. Your beliefs can evolve, too, but know how to distinguish changes you experienced from intentional ones.


The golden circle is a concept that seems simple at first glance. But by digging in, we realize that it requires a real awareness of our reason for being.

Whether you are a person or a company, you must put your deepest convictions and motivations into words. It is an act of introspection on yourself.

Applying it well, Golden Circle will not only allow you to sell more, build a strong brand image, but also keep you motivated.

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