Unmask Your Brand’s Full Potential

Your customers, employees, and investors expect so much more.

“We want a campaign that influences new customers and a separate campaign that positions us as an employer of choice,” my client explained. We were meeting to discuss next year’s messaging goals for their business.

“Why not a single campaign?” I had to ask although the truth was, I could predict what they’d say.

The response to this challenge, too often, is that these audiences — new customers and employment candidates — have interests that are somehow at odds with one another.

I can’t blame people. The traditional value chain tells us that we negotiate dollars-for-value with prospective talent and trade value-for-dollars with customers. Opposite, right?

Traditional Value Chain diagram

But take a closer look…

Today’s best customers want more from their purchases. Bain & Company tells us that there are 40 flavors of value that we trade with customers. They’re organized in a pyramid structure… just like Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. The most persuasive aspects of value — Ease-of-doing-business, Individual, and Inspirational — sit at the top of the pyramid and yield the most influence with buyers. By far.

Pyramid diagram - Bain & Co. B2B Elements of Value

Wait, there’s more…

In a 2015 study, Bain found that employee value has a similar structure. This pyramid has 10 points of value at three levels. Top performers — obviously the most selective — looked for high-value factors like Having Impact, Having Autonomy, and Being Inspired by Leaders.

Pyramid diagram - Bain & Co. Pyramid of Employee Needs

Maybe you noticed a key overlap: both pyramids put inspiration at the top.

This is a natural evolution of our post-industrial world. As employers fought their War For Talent among a shrinking supply and increasing demand for qualified talent, self-actualizing aspects became more persuasive with talented professionals. Post-pandemic, the importance of this pyramid will only increase. If these concepts are of any consequence in your work, I encourage you to take a careful look at both of these pyramids in these two Harvard Business Review articles:

The B2B Elements of Value

How to measure—and deliver—what business customers want by Eric Almquist, Jamie Cleghorn, and Lori Sherer

HBR – March–April 2018

Blue and black Rorschach visual

Engaging Your Employees Is Good, but Don’t Stop There

by Eric Garton and Michael Mankins

HBR – December 9, 2015

HBR - Engaging Your Employees

Three Rules of the Post-Industrial, Post-Pandemic Value Chain

So, what’s changed about the value chain since we evolved past industrialism and were catapulted into a global pandemic?


Everyone can see the entire value chain — We no longer live in a world where employment candidates have one world view and buyers have another. We live in a block-chain world where everyone understands the value that everyone else gives and receives.


All stakeholders want more value — Looking at the pyramids, it’s clear that all people expect more than transactions. They want to feel something and experience something that’s bigger than dollars.


Inspiration is the highest order of value  — Both buyers and career candidates seek to have greater influence on the world they inhabit, and they want to work with people and businesses who inspire them to do that.

Let’s look at some examples…

Consumer banking, in its most basic form, trades attractive returns on the dollars we keep in an account. Or, trades the opportunity to borrow money at an attractive interest rate.

To be one step above transactional selling, we might offer Ease of Doing Business as our messaging platform.

Mobile Pay

In this TV spot, Chase shows how a large group of friends can easily split a big restaurant check without leaving one person “holding the bill.”

We might turn up the value one more step and offer Individual value (the value of being seen for your individual needs) as either customers or employees.

You Inspire Us

In this TV spot, the makers of Arm & Hammer laundry detergent explain how innovative moms inspire them to deliver greater value in their products.

Want to turn the world upside down with value? Elevate your message to Inspirational. In this series of three TV spots, Westpac Bank of Australia offers an inspiring focus on the brand’s promise of helping in the moments that matter.

Bereavement Account

The loss of a spouse can be devastating. Surviving spouses need help understanding the financial challenges and required actions they face.

Bump Account

Caring for young children, with a partner or on your own, comes with a range of new discoveries. Westpac shares some fun observations of how hard young parents work.

If You’re Separating

Separation and divorce can be a time of heightened emotion for families. Westpac offers a range of resources and checklists, along with banking support, to help couples through the changes.

Can you feel the inspiration?

You probably know which I like best. But, honest, it’s not just because of the schmaltz.

The Westpac campaign points boldly at individual challenges that we all want to help with — whether we bank with Westpac or work there. They’ve activated our emotions, showing us humor in the middle of very difficult human challenges.

Cheesy? A little. Inspiring? A lot!

Businesses that deliver Inspirational Value to both customers and employees hit the intersection of three aspirations. The place where Company Purpose aligns with Customer Aspirations and Employee Aspirations.

These businesses aren’t just offering a view of the Employment Value Chain or the Buyer Value Chain… they’re revealing the Full Value Chain. And that’s inspiring to all audiences.

Converging Inspiration

So, your next campaign will be inspirational, right?

Before you get ahead of yourself, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2020, will set you straight: “Competitors [of winning companies] wonder where they can get some of that magic and how they can sprinkle it on… If that’s your expectation—get ready to be disappointed.”

Translation: Embedding purpose into your brand isn’t a simple task. But once you do, your inspiration will be hard to imitate.

McKinsey shows us “How the Five Ps embed purpose to deliver value” and how those principles live at the DNA level of your business. Take 30 minutes to study the details of this important report from McKinsey Quarterly. You’ll be glad you did.

Then, let’s talk about building your brand manifesto and message platform… from the inside, out. Your customers, employees, and investors will return the love, many times over.


About Me

After many years as an agency strategy vp, marketing director, creative director, sales executive, creative writer, and data analyst, I acted on a vision to create an agile consortium of seasoned communications professionals who offer the flexibility to deliver high-impact solutions for large businesses and small.

Together, we deliver strategy, design, writing, photography, video, and digital production that offer competitive strength and confidence to businesses on the verge of a defining moment.

Are you ready to build engagement with customers, employees, and communities? Let’s talk about how Vergex can create a scalable solution to move your brand forward.


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