Marketing Messages That Really Work

Creating marketing messages that work and the neuroscience of marketing is really a lot less complicated than it sounds. It all centers around a very simple concept, actually: your why statement.

How Humans Make Decisions

We always recommend to our clients is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, by Simon Sinek.  The book uses a neuroscience perspective to explain why we, as humans, do what we do and how we make decisions, a process that is rooted in our emotional core. 

Sinek presents research to support the fact that there is a singular purpose, cause or belief that drives everything we do. And he introduced the concept of the “Golden Circle of Marketing,” in which the most effective marketing messages are those targeted at our emotional core.

Simon Sinek The Golden Circle of Marketing

There are three ways you can market your company:

  1. You can talk about WHAT your company makes or offers.
  2. You can talk about HOW your company makes its product or performs its service.
  3. You can talk about WHY your company does what it does.

A company’s “what” and “how” messages speak to their customer’s rational brain.  They explain the products offered and how they are offered, typically in a way that attempts to make the company stand apart from other brands vying for the same shelf space and customer appetite.  

A “why” statement targets the emotional center of our brains, and creates a hook we can feel

What Is a Why Statement?

It is likely that you have several different statements about who you are and what you do.

A mission statement explains what you do, and who you do it for. Vision statements layout long term goals for the business’ success and future, and values statements explain what is important to the business and help to define its culture.  (Hopefully you have these – we do!)

Your why statement is not the same as your mission, vision, or values.

A “why statement”, sometimes called a purpose statement, is something that clearly defines and describes the purpose or driving force of an individual, company, or product. Why statements are motivational statements that speak to the heart of the organization and are central to everything it does. The why statement goes beyond just providing a certain product or service, and tells consumers why that product or service is different and right for them. They are the “philosophical heartbeat” of a company, says an article in the Harvard Business Review.

And this isn’t just a marketing tactic, it’s actually based in biology! Let’s look at some examples of why statements that work.


We all know Starbucks. They’ve managed to put coffee shops on just about every corner of America. Whether you love or hate their coffee, one thing is clear: they’re really good at communicating their purpose

What They Do:
Sell coffee, tea and food items in coffee shops across America.

How They Do It:
Small coffee shops with a broad menu, free wifi, and a setup designed to encourage gatherings and work.

Why They Do It:
Every day, we go to work hoping to do two things: share great coffee with our friends and help make the world a little better.   

Purpose Statement:
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

Nature’s Path

Nature’s Path is a smaller, family-owned, but strongly established brand that has been around since 1985.  They walk the talk when it comes to their purpose statement, donating millions annually to support sustainability initiatives and donating food to food banks.

What They Do:
Make and sell organic cereals, snacks, and breakfast foods.

How They Do It:
With 100% certified organic ingredients and a large focus on environmental sustainability. All of their production facilities are zero waste and they’re working towards being climate neutral by 2020.

Why They Do It:
The seed for Nature’s Path was planted in the 1930s when founder Arran Stephens was growing up on his family’s second-generation organic berry farm. Arran’s father taught him how to care for and nurture the soil, telling him to “always leave the earth better than you found it”. These words have been woven into the very fabric of Nature’s Path.​

Purpose Statement:
In everything we do we aim to work in harmony with nature – mirroring its patterns and its ancient wisdom. From water and the soil to tiny pollinators and birds, we’re passionate about protecting our planet and leaving this earth better than we found it.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a non-profit based in Austin, Texas. They’re a great example of an organization clear what, how, and why statements, and an inspiring purpose. 

What They Do:
Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers provide food, clothing, hygiene products and other life-sustaining items to the homeless in Austin, Texas.

How They Do It:
Over 19,000 volunteers hit the road 7 nights a week, 365 days a year, driving pickup trucks with catering beds.  Each delivery truck carries a minimum of 100 meals and other life-sustaining supplies.

Why They Do It:
Mobile Loaves & Fishes began when five parishioners of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin, Texas boldly answered God’s call to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Purpose Statement: Mobile Loaves & Fishes empowers communities into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.

How to write a why statement

Knowing – and communicating – your “why,” and having a clearly defined purpose statement is vital to creating effective marketing messages that make people want to take action. 

In the examples above, we can see that companies don’t say anything about their products or services in their purpose statements.  Their purpose is not to sell the most coffee or boxes of cereal.  It’s to inspire a feeling or to leave the world a better place.  These are messages that create feelings of joy and nostalgia, and foster a personal connection with the brand.

Your goal should be to create statements for your company that are just as likely to touch someone’s heart and inspire action.

Thoughts or Questions?

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