Many of us have tried new things in 2020, both by choice and out of necessity. This should include rethinking our purpose.
Whether we are pondering and developing our personal Why (e.g. Why should I get out of bed in the morning?) or our brand’s Why (e.g. Why do we serve others?), it can be hard to stay connected to those underlying motivations. This is especially true if we have trouble articulating these ideas in the first place.
As brand strategy expert Kristen Knape recently told Hello Alice, your Why is the most important step in communicating your startup or business to the world. It also provides the clarity you need to move forward with purpose.
Here are four steps I recommend to help you discover and lead with your Why.
Step 1: Why Do I Get Out of Bed in the Morning?
You'd be surprised how many people are stumped by this simple question. Take out a piece of paper and brainstorm everything that immediately comes to mind: words, phrases, images, and more. Do not hold back! Next, when you finish your brainstorm, look over your notes and underscore the items that most deeply resonate with you.
Step 2: Why Does My Brand Serve Others?
At its core, your brand’s Why is about an exchange of goods or services. There may be other brands and businesses similar to yours, but you can set yourself apart by articulating your particular organization’s beliefs and values and emphasizing what makes yours authentic. Take your time to brainstorm again with the pen and paper. Then, use the same process to look back at what you wrote and circle what stands out the most.
Step 3: What is My Audience’s Why?
We want to develop a Why for our brand that is authentic and consistent, but we also want to read the room and appeal to the right audiences. If we speak directly to the hearts and minds of a particular demographic or niche, this practice will set us up for success. Repeat the brainstorm exercise a third time, listing out concepts that describe what your target audience wants out of your offerings.
Step 4: Integrate Your “Why Words”
If you find common words and phrases across all three of the above areas, this is a great sign that you have identified your key themes and values. I call these “Why Words,” which can be fun and powerful tools to drop into your brand communications and meetings with clients and customers. Take note of how you feel as you weave these words into your daily schedule. Do you feel inspired, motivated, or energized? Pay attention to how others react, too. You should be able to tell when it's working.
The areas where you can use your Why are endless: social media posts, brand story, press releases, email campaigns, and more. When your Why Words are reflected throughout your messaging, your values and beliefs will shine through.
Feel free to go through this exercise again as your life and business evolves. I recommend starting with a brief meditation to clear your thoughts and calm your body. Studies show that meditation benefits CEOs more than recreation or relaxation do alone. For a deeper dive on how to communicate your Why to the media, check out learning and mentorship opportunities with Spiral5.
Marissa Feinberg is Founder and Chief Storyteller of Triple Bottom Why. Her consultancy offers communications, marketing, digital, and brand storytelling services in sectors ranging from social and environmental impact to health and wellness, and arts and entertainment. Feinberg is a proud member of Spiral5, a career development platform and community for solo PR pros.