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What's the Golden Circle?

-min Reading
Published on:
Jan 28, 2022

How come some brands do a really good job of connecting to their audience deeply, while others keep getting ignored?

Why do some brands have such a significant impact that their fans are excited all the time?

When it comes to the success of brands, which are basically perceptual and emotional entities in our minds, it's all about the power of authenticity.

Although social media made it possible reaching out to huge crowds, brands still fail to do so.

Why? What are they doing wrong?

They have high quality messaging, they show up with fancy designs, and they offer huge discounts or conduct great campaigns.

Everything seems perfect.

So why do we feel that something is not quite right about them?

The Golden Circle was invented by Simon Sinek in his book, Start With Why. It's a diagram of how successful brands define themselves to the world.

According to the diagram, there are three concentric circles that define a brand's:

  • WHY (brand vision: why it exists),
  • HOW (brand mission: how to achieve that vision) and
  • WHAT (touchpoints, services, products: how does the brand connect to the audience in the physical world).

Only a clear understanding of each of these factors can give a brand a good foundation to grow on.

But to get it right, brands need to follow two basic rules:

1. Start With Why

"People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it."

People love your brand if it embodies the same beliefs and causes they have.

They love the story behind it. They want to feel that they can participate in that purpose. They feel fulfilled and self-actualized.

However, without a clear vision or purpose, you can't build a consistent framework and can't reach out to buyers —that means, you can't build an audience for your service or product.

Without a clear WHY, your product or service easily becomes a commodity with no meaning.

As long as you HAVE and ARTICULATE your vision, your beliefs and causes, you will be authentic. You will get the people's (and the market's) attention. Some will love you, some will hate you, but in the end your brand will have its own tribe = a group of fans that support what you do and say.

For example, Apple doesn't communicate with only their WHATs like: "We make great computers. They're beautifully designed, easy-to-use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?"

Rather they start with their WHY: "In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by designing our products to be beautiful, easy-to-use and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?"

Remember: Fan clubs started by customers are often formed without any help from the company itself.

Pro tip: Finding a WHY should be a discovery, not an invention. You can't just copy what others do, or make up an inorganic cause and wait for success. It doesn't work like that. A WHY needs to be in the DNA of your brand. Just dig down deep and discover that.

2. Have Your Circles Aligned

You need to know your HOWs (the actions that will achieve your vision) and be consistent with your WHATs (everything you say and do).

A misaligned set of circles will cause your brand to send confusing signals to your buyers, and you'll end up with no buyers at all.

This misalignment, or as Simon Sinek calls it "the split", can happen to even the biggest companies. They might begin with a powerful WHY and act accordingly. When the company is small, the founder relies on gut instinct to make all the major decisions (products, marketing, strategy, tactics, and hiring and firing). But with the passage of time, as the megaphone grows, the clarity of WHY often gets diluted. This tend to happen when they get more interested in profit than they are in their WHY. At that point, no matter how many people you can reach, if you can't communicate your WHY, WHAT you do has no context for them.

A final word of wisdom from Simon Sinek;

When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.


Lisa Fotios, pexels.com

Simon Sinek, Start With Why

Daçe Studio, Brand Strategy Workshop

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