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Golden Circle model: Simon Sinek’s theory of value proposition ‘start with why’

Updated January 25, 2024
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Golden Circle model

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Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model: Simon Sinek’s theory of value proposition ‘start with why’

Simon Sinek, a leadership expert, is probably best known for his TED talk. You can see it at the end. Based on his research into the best ways that successful companies think, act, and communicate, Sinek developed the Golden Circle theory. It explains how leaders can instill trust, cooperation, and change within a company.

His Golden Circle model is the best for marketers. It helps to focus on how businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and communicates its uniqueness.

After a workshop discussing the importance and necessity of creating a solid value proposition in a digital marketing strategy, I was inspired to go check it out. One attendee in B2B Healthcare shared how they used it with their agency to create a unique proposition for their brand, amongst other service providers.

Simon Sinek explains how to use the golden circle theory to really differentiate your value proposition.

Sinek is also the author of many books on leadership. The first publication to popularize his famous Golden Circle concept, ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Encourage Everyone to Take Action‘ is one of these books. You can learn more about the model and his history on Start with Why.

Sinek’s Golden Circle model attempts to explain why certain people and organizations can inspire others, and distinguish themselves from the rest. According to neuroscience, the Golden Circle theory explains that people respond best when messages reach those parts of their brains that control emotions, behavior, decision-making, and behavior.

To align your strategy with your goals, start with why

Without a customer-centric digital marketing strategy, it is clear that you will not be able to attract the right customers or increase sales leads.

We recommend the Opportunity > Strategy > Activity approach to structure your marketing strategy. You can create strategies that support your goals by starting with the identification of opportunities in your business.

Your customers should know your “Why”

Sinek says that “Why” is the most important message an individual or organization can convey as it motivates others to take action. “Start with Why” is explaining your purpose, why you exist, and why you behave the way you do. Sinek believes that communicating the passion behind the “Why” is a way to communicate with your listener’s limbic mind. This is the part in our anatomy that processes emotions such as trust, loyalty, and decision-making.

Communicating your “Why” is an effective way to communicate with others, to define your value proposition, and to inspire people to take action. Sinek believes that communication of ‘Why’ influences behavior because it taps into the brain part of the listener. This is why the Golden Circle theory of leadership is so influential. Communicating your ‘Why’ at an organizational level is key to creating a strong value proposition that will distinguish your brand from other brands.

Anthony Villis posted a helpful visual on First Wealth’s blog , comparing the Golden Circle’s aims to the psychological response.


One way that an organization might define its ‘How’ is by highlighting its strengths and values, which they believe will help them stand out from the rest. Sinek believes that ‘How” messaging can also communicate with the limbic Brain, which is a crucial part of emotion and behavior control. His opinion is that organizations should improve how they communicate their ‘Why’ and ‘How’.


Leaders and organizations can easily articulate their ‘What’. This could be the products or services a company offers. It would be the job title of an individual. Sinek claims that the ‘What’ message only interacts with the Neocortex, the brain’s rational part. He argues that this brain part is less important in decision-making than the limbic brain, which is the part that answers ‘Why’ and “How”. Successful people and organizations express their motivations for doing what they do, rather than focusing only on what they do.

Critics argue that Sinek’s Golden Circle model doesn’t reflect passion. Passionate leaders and passionate organizations show passion authentically. This is what inspires others, not the way they express themselves. Others argue Sinek’s theory suggests that humans use their reasoning when making decisions. This is debatable.

Our Content Marketing Matrix helps you to think through the two main dimensions of what content types will be most helpful in determining which path to purchase for your target market. These are the two dimensions:

  • 1. The horizontal axis shows the awareness through to conversion funnel
  • 2. The vertical axis shows all formats of content engagement, from emotional to rational.

We have the templates and tools to help you optimize your marketing strategy and target your customers if you feel inspired. You can find granular strategies to make your channel stand out, including annual and 90-day plans templates.

Our marketing solutions can all be integrated into our RACE Growth System. This system is designed to help marketers find new ways to market with a customer-centric approach.


Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

Golden Circle model

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