Why the Golden Circle Model Is Important for Your Marketing Strategy

Leadership expert Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The Golden Circle is a famous concept that Sinek presented in his popular TED Talk, “Start with Why.” The talk is all about developing connections and finding your purpose for what you want to do in business and life; it is based around the Golden Circle, which has three parts: Why, How, and What. Sinek believes most people start with the “what” they do and work back to the “how” and “why” they do it. However, successful companies start with the “why” and then move to “how” and “what.”



“Why” is the most important message a business or person can communicate to inspire others to act; it is how you state your purpose and explain the reasons behind your behavior and actions. Sinek’s theory describes how successfully communicating “why” is a way to connect with the listener’s limbic brain, the anatomy that processes trust and loyalty. As humans, we are emotional beings. It is psychologically proven that consumers buy with emotions, so starting first with the “why” to elicit emotional responses to build trust and connect with your customers is very impactful to your marketing strategy. Sinek helps build this point by asking the audience to imagine if Apple started backward and had a marketing message that started with “what.” That would look something like this.

“We make great computers. They’re user-friendly, easy to use, and beautifully designed. Want to buy one?”

Most people would not be sold on this marketing message because, as consumers, we want to know why they are great. An example of a potential Apple marketing message that starts with why would be:

“Everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

Although the words are similar, not only can you see the difference between the two, but you can also really feel it.


“How” refers to how you are helping your customers. For example, in your marketing strategy, your “how” would be expressing the strengths and values that separate you from competitors. Sinek believes the “how” message also communicates with the limbic brain; however, articulating the “why” is more important but can also support your “how.”


“What” is pretty self-explanatory and often easy for organizations. It is pretty simple to convey “what” you do to your customers by expressing what products or services you offer. Sinek’s theory says that the “what” message only connects with the neocortex which is the rational part of our brain. This part of our brain is not as influential in our decision-making, which is why the “how” and “why” impact consumers buying more. Focusing on why you do what you do instead of what you do can make all the difference for your brand.

The Golden Circle model helps businesses understand how they can stand apart from competitors by showcasing their differences and instilling trust with their customers. At New Target, we want to build you the best digital marketing strategy, so contact us, and we can help you start with why.

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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