Are you building a brand or just selling stuff?

by Elliot Lyons 

The Internet has, is, and will continue to be used by companies and individuals to make Scrooge McDuck-size fortunes.  

But the easy allure of lucre often outshines the best way to make money on it: by building a brand.

So, if you’re out there trying to just sell stuff, you should instead peep game and work on building a brand through which you can sell a product.

Simon Sinek, a brilliant organizational mind who’s done a lot of research on why some businesses succeed while others don’t, talks about TiVo. It was the best product he’d ever seen, so much so that people started using it as a verb.

But TiVo failed commercially.

It didn’t fail because of funding—it had loads. It didn’t fail because its product was a technical dud—it was great and worked.  It didn’t fail due to unfavorable market conditions—those were great, too.

It was a commercial failure because it sold a product by telling people what it did and not why people needed it. The why is the brand and its reason for being.

People don’t buy products: they buy a why wrapped in a product.

Apple, contrasting TiVo, does just that, he says. They put the brand up front by communicating that they believe in challenging the status quo in everything they do, and they do this by making products that are simple to use and beautifully designed. “They just happen to make computers,” Sinek says.

Apple succeeds because of what they stand for—the why—and how this message is communicated.

It’s doesn’t just create stuff to sell, because that’s not what people buy, funny enough.

Focusing on the why, though, is difficult, time consuming, and doesn’t lend itself to easily making bank in digital spaces.

It’s not glamorous, either, because it’s all about figuring out what your brand stands for, and many out there probably don’t want to face the fact that the only reason they exist is to make money.

So, while cash may rule everything around you, what rules cash is authenticity. And that is all about the why.


Prefer reading the transcript of the Simon Sinek talk linked above? Check it out here.


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