Why, How, What – Startup Brand Positioning

Thursday Jun 12, 2014 by Michael Capuucci - CEO & Founding Partner, Baked & Branded

The founders here at Baked & Branded stumbled, again, upon a TED video that we had watched years ago that has influenced, tremendously, the ways in which we view brand positioning for our clients, and ourselves.

The genius behind this talk by Simon Sinek is not that he has created some new way for companies to tell their story, but rather the fact that he was able to identify the unique format through which successful companies tell theirs. Perhaps more impressive is that he was then able to back up his hypothesis with science, or more specifically – biology.



It’s been said that choosing based on one’s emotions is hardly a choice at all. As a business, that’s precisely what you are hoping to achieve. If you can create an emotional connection with your audience through brand positioning, then minutia like price (insert laugh here) will no longer influence your customers’ decisions to buy. The biology behind this, as briefly explained by Sinek can be seen with respect to the unique ways that different portions of our brain react to stimuli. If you’ve watched the video, which you should, this will be repetition, but basically the neo-cortex makes up the largest part of the cerebral cortex, and is responsible for spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and language. Thank you Wikipedia. As much as purchasing your product or service makes perfectly logical sense to you, it probably doesn’t seem as reasonable or logical to the masses. Sorry. Therefore, telling us WHAT your product or service is or does only triggers the logical portion of our brain and begins the process of reasoning through the information we have been given. And in a world saturated with goods and services, that process can be long and overwhelming to the consumer. There are just far too many choices with immaterially different value propositions. In order to differentiate yourself, you have to connect with your customers on an emotional level. Take the choice out of it!

While the neocortex inputs language and churns out logical decisions, the limbic system is the portion of the brain primarily responsible for our emotional lives and memories. This biological distinction in our brains tells us something beyond just the fact that there is a separation between emotional and logical. Something that Sinek did not expressly state, but can be inferred from his discussion, is the idea that the limbic system does not handle language in the same manner as the neo-cortex. Perhaps it’s not capable of interpreting language at all. Therefore, beyond just leading with, and telling your customers the WHY of it all, to really tug on those heart strings and foster an emotional connection – you must show them. As a startup, you’re likely yet to achieve economies of scale, making it difficult to beat competitors on price. You obviously lack a long (years) track record on which you can show value. What you do have, however, is purpose. WHY you think it’s important to solve a certain problem should be at the core of everything that you do and your customers should know that!

At Baked & Branded, we believe that everyone who, through their experiences, spots a gap, an inefficiency or just feel they can do something better, deserves that opportunity. Everyone on our team has worked in startups and we all know the passion that comes with it. That passion is infectious – that’s why we choose to surround ourselves with similarly passionate individuals, both on our team and on our customers’ teams. That’s WHY we do this, and it’s readily visible in our brand positioning and is the lead in to all of our copy. We’re not trying to hide the ball, and nor should you. The value of leading with WHY does not dissipate just because your customers have seen Sinek’s “Golden Circle.” Rather, knowing WHY your company does what it does, and demonstrating that mission in everything you do will foster an emotional connection with consumers, make choosing you over your competitors no longer a choice, and create loyal, devoted consumers. After that, the WHAT you do is simply proof that you can accomplish what you believe.

What’s your WHY?


Michael Capuucci is the CEO & Founding Partner of Baked & Branded.  You can find this post, as well as additional content on their blog located here.  You can also follow Baked & Branded on Twitter by clicking here.

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