The authenticity of what you do and what you sell will inspire support from customers who share your purpose. Because in choosing your product, they’re living by their values, too. So the stronger your purpose, the stronger your connection to customers will become. In the words of Simon Sinek, people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. To add to the power of shared purpose, when a customer identifies with your business value and purpose, she’s connecting with your product on a deeply emotional level. Whilst we like to think decisions are based on rational information, like product features and benefits and price, the truth is that our decisions are mostly informed by emotion.
In fact, over 90% of our decisions are driven by emotion. So by telling a story about your products that awakens an emotional response in the brain, there’s a far greater likelihood of a positive decision. Brands and products that simply list their rational features and benefits are quite simply addressing the wrong part of the brain. Here’s the perfect thing– you have something infinitely more precious than the vast majority of businesses that will equip you to succeed where corporates will fail. You have a purpose. You have deeply-held values, and you have the means to make a difference in the world. The way you choose to run your business will validate your purpose as authentic.
And because you have a clear purpose, you will lead, and people will follow, because they share your values and they share your purpose, which means that you will build teams and a loyal customer base that has an unbreakable bond– a shared purpose. I believe that the future for entrepreneurial small business is incredibly bright. The Information Age will drive a profound revolution in business. The days of lumbering corporate giants with their own rulebooks are gone. It will be the small, the nimble, the innovative, and the socially positive who win, because customers want them to. And business with a real treasure of purpose at their core will undoubtedly shine brightest.
I’m going to walk you step by step through the process of building your strategy using our Brand Authenticity Grid based on the purposes and values you’ve already defined earlier in the programme. I’ll use my own ethical business, Mosami, as an example to illustrate the methodology. And at the end of the video, you’ll create your own strategy. There’s a downloadable template and some further examples to help you understand the process. The Brand Authenticity Grid helps to focus your thinking, and it ensures that brand values are clearly present in your overall purpose and also reflected in every aspect of the business. It will help you to make decisions more quickly and heat towards your goals without unnecessary details.
You’ll see on our example here that the columns are labelled across the top with the brand values– in this case, Mosami’s brand values. On the left-hand side in the first row is the brand why. Mosami’s why is to inspire women to make simple, daily steps towards a positive mindset. In the second row down is the brand what. This is a simple description of what the business actually does. It’s often called a positioning statement. It states the product type, the audience, the market positioning, and any other relevant practical details. Mosami’s what is to offer beautiful and high-quality women’s jewellery that is ethically made and inspires and supports daily positive mindset practise.
You’ll notice that this phrase alone is pretty flat and uninspiring. This is because it’s just fact, and it doesn’t awaken any emotion other than perhaps a little curiosity. Compare it to our why– to inspire women to make simple daily steps towards a positive mindset– and you’ll see how a purpose is so much more compelling than a statement of features and benefits. Now, to add some more colour to the why, let me explain how our values are expressed. You’ll see that our value of connection is expressed through the use of jewellery as a means of connection. The pieces have associated rituals and meditations that develop self-awareness and confidence, helping the wearer to connect with her own confidence and sense of self.
Our pieces make deeply thoughtful gifts for friends, making lasting friendships keepsakes. And lastly, we use the natural world as design inspiration to remind the wearer of the wisdom in nature. Moving to honesty, we aim to be transparent and ethical with the positive psychology techniques we use, and we’ll reference established and validated techniques through content on our website, blogs, and social media. Our positivity value means that our sourcing strategy focuses on a net positive social impact, and that we’re continually striving to better material sourcing solutions. This process is a great tool for developing your elevator pitch. Add the top line together, and you’ll have a very concise and very precise description of your ethical business.
If the activity is fundamentally misaligned with your brand why, then you’ll need to consider if it’s an activity that should be dropped altogether or adjusted to align. Every activity needs to have an angle that makes sense in the context of your brand. So taking Mosami’s first how of pieces thoughtfully designed to relate to the practise as an example, you’ll see that we embody our value of connection by designing the pieces using symbolism. Symbols are a shortcut to emotive stories, and connect people rapidly and deeply to a particular emotion. This is why we don’t use words on our jewellery. They don’t have the same depth of connection.
As an example, we use a forget-me-not flower as a symbol of friendship, a much richer story than simply using the word friends. Looking at our how of sourcing product that’s environmentally and socially responsible and our value of honesty, you’ll see that this means we actively share our experiences of ethical sourcing, talking about where and how we source and discussing the challenges that we face. Our value of positivity is expressed by the campaigning stance that we take using both our website and social media to get to our message across. Now it’s your turn. Download the template, create a brand authenticity plan for your brand. Take your time, and keep coming back to it.
This type of plan tends to evolve and change over time, so treat it as a working document, and use it as a regular check-in to ensure that you’re on track. With a completed template, you’ll be in a great position to start building a really strong communication strategy with a focused and well-articulated sustainability story.