Today’s message is simple but big: I want you to think about why your company matters.

Why should people care about your company? Why does your company have a right to exist?

Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine if, at one moment in time, every person in your company was approached by another person with a video camera and was asked this question: “Why does your company matter?”

Then, imagine you watched all of the videos that showed your work colleagues’ answers. What would you hear? Would people be able to answer the question? For those who were able to answer the question, would their answers be similar? Would their answers be compelling?

My guess: Most of you are thinking that most people in your companies cannot articulate why your company matters.

Think about that for a moment. Your company can only thrive if its customers engage with it, and customers will only engage with you to the extent  your company and its offerings matter to them. How can we expect customers to believe that we matter to them if we can’t articulate why weshould matter?

Another thought experiment: Imagine you overhear a number of your customers talking about your company.  These are customers who believe that you matter to them. You hear these statements:

“I love doing business with them, because …”

“They are really important to me, because …”

“I buy from them instead of other companies, because …”

“I can’t live without them, because …”

In each case, what would come after the “because?”

Try this thought experiment with your colleagues inside your company. It’s not an easy exercise, but it is important. Answering it will help you define your company’s brand essence, which distills the soul of your company and why a customer would say “I can’t get it anywhere else.”

If you are hoping that your mission statement describes your company’s purpose, there is a good chance are you are mistaken. As I wrote in this article, Ignore Your Mission Statement, most mission statements are uninspiring, undifferentiated, boring compromises that were hammered out by committees only marginally interested in completing the task. Instead of mission statements, I encourage my clients to focus on defining a brand essence that captures the heart of why their company should matter to customers, employees, partners and, for that matter, the rest of the world.

As Simon Sinek says in his “Start with Why” TED talk, people don’t buy from you because of what you do, they buy from you because of why you do it.  The first step to motivating customers in that way is to ensure that everyone inside your company has a clear, inspired idea of why you matter, which will lead them to do their work for the right reasons, not just to complete tasks.

If you want your customers to sense why you do things, ensure first that the employees in your company know why they are doing those things.


  • Catherine Jules
    Sep 15, 2014 - 08:29 am

    Always value the importance of your company no matter what. Company values are not just important, they’re vital to the overall success of building a business. Values should be at the very heart of any business, ideally, it’s what you start with even before there is a name, an office or any employees. Make sure that your business is admirable, is worthy of respect, and is trustworthy.

    • Steve Yastrow
      Oct 12, 2014 - 14:59 pm

      Catherine – very well said. Thanks. So often the idea of company values is watered down to platitudes and obvious things like “integrity” or “accountability.” Those are necessary, of course, but they are not what makes a company important or admirable (Thanks for using that word – it’s a good description) And you’re right, if you start with what makes you important, everything else falls into place.

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