Imagine if you asked Stephen King “Why do you write books?” and he said “Because they make me rich.”

Would his fans feel the same way about his work as they did before? Definitely not.

Lao Tze quotePeople don’t buy into what you do as much as they will buy into why you do it. Your personal brand is founded on why you do the work you do. Sure, one of the results of your efforts is monetary, but that isn’t the reason why you do it; it is your “why” that’s truly behind people believing in you and your work. Your “why” is what motivates you, what makes you get out of bed every day and is at the heart of your brand.

Simon Sinek, a nationally renowned communication and leadership expert, created the concept of the Golden Circle. In the center of the circle is Why, in the second ring, How, and in the outermost ring, What.

Sinek says that the most innovative people and companies are all successful because their leadership is based on the Why, while the majority focuses on what they do or sell. Sinek uses Apple computers as an example, saying people believe that Apple thinks differently and buys their products because they feel that Apple in some way shares their personal values, like being uniquely innovative.

As with any kind of branding, keeping the essence (or the why) as your focus is important, and yet so often we slip into highlighting what we do instead. Stephen King clearly has his own why that inspires him to write and create stories that people connect with and it is what separates him from other horror authors. In respect to personal branding, rediscovering your own why is key to refocusing your marketing. With a new year just beginning, why don’t you sit down and remember your why?

How do you remember your why? First ask yourself these four simple questions:

  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How are you different?
  • Why do you matter?
  • How do others benefit?

Your answers will guide you to your core story – the heart of your brand. By fleshing out your why, you will be able to see what makes you, well, you.

You can then clearly share why you are unique, why you are important and the what of your work will seem almost like an afterthought to your communication strategies. Your story should be the foundation of your marketing. It is the starting place for your ideas and is why you are personally invested in your work.

People feel good when they make a purchase or decision that resonates with them and their beliefs, which is why your brand is so vital to your business and the work you do. It helps you connect with people on an emotional level and cultivates loyalty.