My girlfriend decided to book a holiday. “All I want is to be on a hot beach,” she said. I agreed.

We had not been away on holiday in a while and were in need of a break. The usual conversation ensued: Where should we go? For how long? What’s our budget? We mentioned to friends we were planning a break and, naturally, they chimed in with advice and recommendations.

Their responses added to our requirements, and, by the end, we wanted somewhere hot in October with a beach. Somewhere not too expensive with a good culture, a nice hotel with the best Trip Advisor reviews ever and, of course, great food. Most importantly, somewhere that’s not too expensive and has a room with a view. Must have a room with a view. Paradise. But again, not too expensive.

The problem was we had not been away for so long that we wanted to make up for lost time by doing everything. When you talk to people, they see it as an opportunity to talk about themselves and very rarely are they thinking of what would really work for you. We lost sight of our brief. We did not specify a why.

All I want is to be on a hot beach. We had been saying that all year, as we have mostly been indoors or in the cold weather. There was never any mention of culture or all the other frills. But something strange happens when you talk to people: They start telling you what you want (or what they think you want). You begin to believe it, and it changes your plans.

This phenomenon happens a lot with our own communications. We work on a brief and identify our main objective and the why. But along the way, the secondary objectives become more and more important, and we sometimes lose sight of the primary. Our communications end up saying everything about our brand, but our audience doesn’t seem to remember any of it because we stop talking directly to their main needs. Said another way: There is a lack of human relevance, and people become insensate to the message.

Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” If our audience agrees with the why, it is a lot easier to post-rationalise the what. Talking about the what informs your audience, but it surely does not drive their behaviour.

The issue is that we have a vast amount of knowledge about our products, and we want everyone to know them. Yet focusing solely on the why can seem like a wasted opportunity to say more. Oftentimes, we are not aligned internally on our why or do not communicate it clearly enough. So we go to our default and lead with the what.

Thus, I went back to my friends. This time I told them whyI needed a break first. I was totally surprised how much of a difference this really made.

We ended up travelling to Lanzarote. It was the best weather holiday we could find within budget for that specific time of the year. We spent most of the time on the beach; exactly what we had been saying and wanting all along. That was our brief, our paradise. We could have compromised on that for a bit more of the other requirements, but that would be ignoring a whole year’s worth of intention.

Our brands are important to us and we have a lot to say about them, but what do people need from them? What’s the real benefit to them? It got me thinking, Are there any other everyday things I could write a single-minded brief for?