the recipe for effective communication

Brand communications too often focus on what they do rather than why they do it. Consequences: less conversion in the short term and fewer fans in the long term. Now let’s question this type of communication. Why can the Golden Circle help you communicate without relying solely on your products? How do you communicate so that your products are not only consumed, but also recommended? Let’s decipher.

1. Start with the why

During a Ted Talk conference in 2010, Simon Sinek, a still unknown author, 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 of all time.

RedTalk video conferencing

The theory of the golden circle (or golden circle) grew out of a reflection by Simon Sinek on the leadership of Apple, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers.

According to him, the strength of great leaders and inspired organizations is to speak first and foremost about their beliefs and their deep beliefs (their why). They think, act and communicate from within. From why to what.

The problem is that most people understand their “what”, some their “how”, but very few their “why”.

illustration Golden circle

Why – WHY: Why do you do what you do? what is your purpose

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 “why” embodies your beliefs, your beliefs, etc. These questions can help you define them:

  • why do you get up in the morning
  • If your company didn’t exist tomorrow, what would the world be missing?

2. The Golden Circle applies to Apple

How could a consumer computing company like Apple thrive where many brands struggle?

It can be summed up in one sentence: customers don’t buy what Apple makes, they buy why Apple makes 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 speak to people who believe in what you believe.” – Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action

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

In this example, Apple communicates from the outside in: the brand doesn’t know why it’s doing what it’s doing and isn’t communicating it. In short, it’s not optimal.

In real life, Apple takes this type of communication on the wrong foot. Your spots look more 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, easy to use and user friendly (“how”).
  • And we happen to make computers. Do you want one ? (“What”)

Apple ad

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

In this way, the brand manages to sell products at “high entry prices” no better than its competitors.

Both revered and hated, Apple leaves no one indifferent. Fans love what Apple is. The resisters don’t understand what the fans like. The debates about Apple can lead to “dialogues of the deaf”.

Changing the order of sentences is not enough to become the Apple of your industry. You must start with your own beliefs and give them a central place in your speech, strategy and products. The perceived value of your products will increase tenfold and so will your margins. Then you will be adored (and maybe a little criticized).

3. Scientific Explanation

Let’s provide some evidence of how the Golden Circle works.

When we express our “why”, we activate the area of ​​the brain that is responsible for emotions and feelings (limbic system) in the person we are talking to. The limbic system controls our behavior and beliefs.

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

brain image

Communicating from the why, therefore, activates the part of the brain responsible for our emotions.

By addressing your customer’s emotions directly, your message will resonate better 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 course for success

If you apply the principle of the golden circle, you have a great chance of a sense of achievement. Why ? I’m not saying that, it’s the law of the dissemination of innovations.

The Law of Diffusion of Innovations is a product acceptance curve theorized by Everett Roger, an American sociologist and statistician.

Under this law, the population would be divided into 5 parts: innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), the early majority (34%), the late majority (34%) and latecomers (16%). This law states that any innovation must convince one sector of the population before it spreads to the next.

Diffusion curve of innovation

In order to reach a mass market, a penetration rate of at least 16% must be achieved. This rate represents innovators and first-time users (or early adopters). This law serves the interests of the golden circle, because these are the very people who buy according to their beliefs.

Coming back to Apple, early adopters are the people who queue for hours in front of an Apple Store to get the latest iPhone.

On the other side of the curve there are stubborn people who wait until the last moment to adopt an innovation. It is important to identify them in order not to try to convert them.

Your goal is to align with your “why” to find and persuade customers who believe in what you believe. Once you’ve won over the innovators and early adopters, they’ll push the other spheres to follow suit.

A leader motivates with his energy. A leader inspires with his charisma.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO from 2000 to 2014, was full of energy. He’s a “how” type leader.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Microsoft (though quite reticent), is charismatic. He is a “why” type leader.

Pictures Ballmer and Bill Gates

Charismatic leaders are more dreamy, they have an unerring optimism and they are focused on the future. You work on the vision of a company.

Energetic leaders are more realistic, they focus on building better on what people perceive. You work on a company’s mission.

Sinek says energetic executives like Ballmer can be very effective, but rarely build companies that achieve huge valuations like Apple or Microsoft.

Conversely, a charismatic leader (Steve Jobs) cannot live without an energetic leader. Next to every charismatic leader is an energetic leader. Because it is impossible to inspire without motivating.

The charisma of your brand is your “why”. The energy of your brand is your “how”. Start with your inspirational “why” to find a sufficiently motivating “how” for your customers.

6. Long-term risks

At the beginning of an adventure, your ideas are guided by passion. Then it can crumble over time.

Let’s take the case of Volskwagen, which means “Volkswagen” in German. The brand has always had an image associated with affordable cars for everyone. The original ladybug was the spearhead of freedom and the simple life. The day the brand launched the $70,000 Phaeton, sales were catastrophic.

Why ? It was a car that completely contradicted the brand’s original raison d’être.

Maintaining the discipline of faithfully enlivening your “why” for years is a necessity to continue.

It is also a necessity to keep up the motivation. “Working overtime for a company is difficult. It’s easy to spend long hours on one thing.” – Elon Musk

To keep and maintain your motivation, always focus on your “why”. Your beliefs may also evolve, but know how to recognize the changes suffered from these intentional ones.


The golden circle is a concept that at first glance seems simple. But as we dig, we realize that it requires a genuine awareness of our raison d’être.

Whether you are a person or a company, you need to put your beliefs and deepest motivations into words. It is a work of introspection.

Then, if you use it correctly, the golden circle can not only sell more, build a strong brand image, but also motivate you.

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