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I always thought ‘why?’ was the killer question with brands. Why do people buy you? Why should they?

Then bloody Simon Sinek came along and turned a perfectly good adverb into a noun. Start with why. Find your why.

He summed up his ‘why’ theory in that TED talk in 2014.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

Well, I believe in question marks.

People don’t buy what you do?

But isn’t that where everyone starts? Don’t they enter a category?

They buy why you do it?

Do they know why? Do they care?

And what you do simply proves what you believe?

Simply? Isn’t it pretty easy to state your beliefs? Isn’t the hard part living by them?

While we’re on it, what’s with all this existential angst around brands? No more talk about positionings or promises. Say why you exist.

Maybe the reason people like that kind of approach, apart from its inside-out-ness, is the implication of certainty. Don’t just say it, swear by it.

Of course, any brand positioning needs to be done compellingly, competitively and credibly. My three all-time favourite C’s.

You can always add to that list clearly, concisely and convincingly. It won’t hurt.

And if you want to get to seven C’s, how about conspicuously? Remember, it’s all about being remembered.

But certainty? It isn’t even an adverb.

And are you ever really certain about a strategy? It’s always a choice. There are always other ways you could go.

So there’s always room for doubt.

That moment straight after you have a new thought when you start to question it.

Those few minutes before you go live on a Teams research debrief that rashly promised insight.

Walking into a strategy presentation with your faultless logic and your beads of sweat.

Lolloping up to a creative team with your plea for the impossible.

As Voltaire said: ‘Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”

And do you know why he called himself ‘Voltaire’ when his actual name was François-Marie Arouet?

Me neither.


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