The Value of Why

Brand understanding will build confidence that can make all the difference for your team and your customers.

Diana Lillicrap 2.23.2021


I personally love understanding the brain science behind human behavior. Maybe that’s because of the very topic I’m writing about: it’s important to understand the “why” of something in order to get behind it.

You’ve heard us talk many times before about the role of emotions in decision making. One very important emotion related to how our brains make decisions and then take action, is confidence. If we feel a sense of confidence about the decision we are about to make, we are more likely to act on it. Reversely, if we don’t feel confident, we won’t act.

The science behind it

If you like to geek out on this kind of stuff like I do, check out this article in the Journal of Neurophysiology: “Confidence-Related Decision Making.” Researchers scanned the brains of rats during decision-making activities. Basically, the results showed that when the animal felt confident in its decision, certain neurons would fire in the brain that led to taking action. And the results were compounding. When a first decision went well, there was more confidence in the next decision, and more action-resulting neurons would fire up.

How this applies to your employees

Let’s take a look at what this means for your team. Building a confident brand starts from the inside out. If your people understand and believe in your brand, it will ripple out into the way they talk about it with customers and in the way they live your brand every day in their jobs. So how do you build confidence with employees? Start by making them part of the process. Inform them of how your brand has come about (or invite their input if you are going through a brand refresh). Be clear about the brand purpose, your company values, and what truly makes you different. Build trust by sharing the good and the bad. If your competitors are better at something than you, state it honestly, but then clarify how your brand exceeds in other, and let’s assume more important, ways.

It’s key to remember to share the reasonings behind your brand. Why is the purpose what it is? Why is your brand the right choice out of all the options out there? And why should employees care? Make sure both your onboarding process and your ongoing employee engagement tools include ways for employees to become familiar with the past, present, and future plans for your brand. And most importantly, empower them to understand their role in the brand. All of this will build confidence and drive positive brand actions.

How this applies to your customers

Now let’s talk about your customers and how to build action-driving certainty with them. Confidence comes from understanding the choices and the possible outcomes of a decision. That means you have to make it crystal clear what you offer and, more importantly, why choosing your brand is better for your customer. Strong branding gets down to the bare bones of this question. Is your brand easier? Safer? Smarter? What do you offer that others don’t? What do your customers get that is of more value by choosing you? Once you have that figured out, say it clearly and consistently to build understanding and a way to judge the outcomes of a buying decision.  

Confidence is also built by repeat positive experiences. It’s basic: when you deliver what you say with dependable outcomes, it will naturally lead to customers continuing to select your brand. Just like the research study, one positive decision leads to a more confident next decision. Action begets action.

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