People rarely buy because of WHAT we do—they invest in the WHY of what we do.
Yes, people will buy from WHY-less brands (just look at Walmart). But no one LOVES them either.
No one is wearing a their t-shirts proudly. No one is begging to work for them. No one is telling all their friends to buy that brand because ‘they’re the best. Period.’ No one is excited to be mayor on Foursquare of their establishment (looking at you McDonalds). And certainly no one is coming back again and again and again, ever satisfied and excited by the experience.
People will just put up with these soul-less giants because they fulfill the need in the moment. But nothing more.
There’s a reason why local, independent coffee houses are doing alright, despite (or maybe because of) the giant across the street (starbuckssssss). Here’s why: there are coffee drinkers out there who want something more than a corporate sheen floating on top of their morning brew. They want intimacy, and passion, and creativity. They want soul. And they’ll live and die with their local coffee house as long as they get at least a little of that every day.
[Sidenote: yes, Starbucks is the big bad wolf of coffee…but if you’re looking at global brand building they’re near the top of the game. There are a million other coffee drinkers who live and die by their Starbucks because they too provide some soul to the chaos of corporate suburbia. So don’t discount absolutely everything they do.]
Look at any inspiring, influential, and iconic brand and I guarantee that behind it is a purposeful movement to communicate WHY (rather than WHAT) in every decision, both within the organization and to the outside world.
Now the question becomes: why are you doing what you do? Put some soul into it.