The task of branding starts not just with a brand strategy, but the right brand strategy. Namely one that will genuinely inform and inspire the creative process. Many strategies are backed up by research, analysis and well-argued expositions. Some have entire books devoted to them and have built illustrious careers. But it’s only when they are applied in the real world that the harsh truth emerges.

One of the generally accepted and widely adopted tenets of brand strategy over recent decades has been the doctrine of brand differentiation. Identifying the primary point of difference and proceeding accordingly. And yet, from experience, the primary point of difference can often be a statement of the obvious. With years of branding projects under our belt we are battle hardened as to what works in practice rather than accepting established theory or the latest ‘breakthrough’ being acclaimed by the marketing Gurus.

At this point we would like to introduce Simon Sinek. A name known for his mould-breaking book ‘Start with Why – how great leaders inspire everyone to take action’. As the title makes clear this isn’t a thesis on brand or marketing strategy, it’s purpose is to improve leadership, corporate culture, hiring, product development, sales and marketing. It’s just that although different approaches have their merits, we’ve discovered that in building a brand vision, mission and positioning ‘starting with why’ delivers more effectively, more often. Simon Sinek’s thesis is deceptively simple. He states that most of us start with what we do, move on to how we do it and finally get round to explaining why we do it. In doing so we are approaching things the wrong way round. We should inverse the process; we start with why, then address how and end up with what.

Having applied this way of working to our most challenging branding projects, we have found that it avoids those unhelpful ‘statements of the obvious’ and provides the inspirational spark that all of the best creative work demands.

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