While it’s not especially new, I was just recently introduced to the concept of the Golden Circle,  a philosophy around marketing that recognizes a brand’s purpose, cause, belief, its WHY first, and then moves outward toward selling its WHAT. Many companies will frame their marketing around 1) what they do, 2) how they do it, and 3) why it should matter to you. For example, a computer company might say, “We make great computers through cutting edge design that will improve your life and help you be more productive, which is why you should buy our product.” (What, How, Why.) But a company with a golden circle approach will get to the heart of the matter first, which is why, according to Simon Sinek, Apple has so successfully connected with consumers. Apple says, “[WHY] Everything we do challenges the status quo. We are an extension of people’s creativity/self ID. An iPod touches someone’s heart, it’s not just a music device. [HOW] We create beautifully designed, simple user-friendly devices. [WHAT] We just happen to make really great computers. Want to buy one?” Because people connect to Apple’s “Why,” they sign on for all sorts of products, not just computers. (And of course, Apple consistently delivers.) See Sinek’s full talk:

The Golden Circle

And here, an article about the risks of isolating yourself from your customers, which touches on the importance of connection (and regular, meaningful reconnection).

All of this comes back to the importance of understanding your audience in a deep, meaningful way. And the companies who recognize this are bringing humanity into their marketing efforts. We are seeing more and more of it, and it’s engaging, in-touch, savvy, and as a result, incredibly viral.

You’ve probably seen these ads on TV (or on your Facebook or Twitter feeds). They do a wonderful job of connecting with the humans who are the end consumers—by acknowledging a person’s unique individualism, and connecting to their experience, they lose the big, out-of-touch corporation vibe and suddenly seem more trustworthy, understanding, and approachable. “Wow, this company GETS me.”

Apple “Misunderstood” ad:



Coca Cola Life ad:

Coke ad



Huggies “Friendship Day” ad:

Friendship Day

Intuit “The Year of the You” ad:

The Year of the You

As a designer, clients who are in touch with their brand “Why” are easy to work with: they know who they are, they know who they are trying to reach, and their voice is crystal clear. This means their brand is authentic, consistent, and reliable. With this already established, the design process focuses on building a visual reflection of that voice, rather than discovery around what/how/why.

So, who is it you’re trying to reach? What is their unique experience? What speaks to their heart? WHY do you love what you do, what is your brand’s purpose, and why should they listen to you? Deep connections make for long-lasting, meaningful client relationships. And reflecting on these questions may allow you to fall in love all over again with the “why” of what you do every day.