Two months ago I was teaching a marketing class to a group of pharmacy owners and I asked the question, “Is there anyone here who can tell me what their brand is?” Almost instantly a hand shot up in the middle of the room and a young man said “Sunmark!” After a confused couple of seconds, I realized what he meant and replied, ”That is what you sell not who you are.”

This young man is not alone in his confusion over being able to define his brand. Unfortunately, most of us define our brand by what we do or what we sell rather than by why we do what we do. Learning to tell our story to consumers is key to attracting new customers. In order to truly tell our story, we need to start with figuring out our brand based on why and not what.

Simon Sinek is a brilliant leadership trainer (check out his blog) and he stresses the important point that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” People buy passion and the human side of a business over offerings. As much as we need a logo, consistent brand colors and a good website, these are just things that we create to help promote our brand. A real brand comes from something authentic that emerges from your pharmacy culture. A real brand story is told with feeling.

Let me give you an example using adherence as a brand offering. We all believe in adherence and understand that it is better for the patient and for the pharmacy, yet why do some people sign up hundreds of patients while others have perhaps 20 or 30 patients involved? The successful pharmacies are those where the commitment to adherence and a passionate commitment to patient health is so prevalent that every employee embraces this as a brand attribute. It doesn’t matter whether it is a tech or a pharmacist or your driver. In a successful brand, every single person is committed to the WHY and not just the WHAT.

This is where your leadership is so important. As you build your brand so that you have a strong story to tell a target group of people looking for what you have to offer, make employee buy-in a #1 priority. I had an owner tell me once that his store didn’t have many people signed up for his sync program because one of his pharmacists didn’t like to do it. Really? Should a person stay on as an employee who is poisoning the brand? Not in my pharmacy.

If your brand is going to tell an authentic story about how much you care about patient health and how you will help patients reach their goals of feeling better, then you will need a “We” commitment from everyone. Starting with a clear understanding of who you are and why you do what you do and then having a company culture where everyone embraces this. Asking yourself “why” will allow you to tell your brand story in a big way.