Brand Build With Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Brand Build With Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Business students! Do you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? I hope so, considering its the most over-taught pyramid, second to the food pyramid (may it rest in peace).

Are you quick to discount Maslow’s model? I don’t blame you. But did you think about how it highlights how to brand build in a way that keeps you motivated even when things are tough (like that one gym leader in Pokémon)? It reminds you that no matter where you are in your career, you likely have achieved some portion of the model.

In a job you hate? Well, at least you have physiological fulfillment and hopefully safety. Bummed about not finding your passion? Well, there’s a reason that’s the tip of the pyramid: it’s supposed to be really hard; just like the last square in those arcade stacking games with awesome prizes just out of reach.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated, finding passion. We could apply literally anything to the hierarchy of needs model. Let’s pretend your career passion is akin to coffee. Don’t like coffee? Well, I’m not sure we can be friends. For the rest of the caffeine-laced world, let’s take a look at the path to coffee nirvana:


Brand Build (Level 1):  Physiological Need – You Have Coffee

Congratulations! You have caffeine. You couldn’t care too much about it, considering you’re slugging back Folgers you found in the back of the office kitchen. It says expires 2009…Must’ve been back when they cut back on costs from the Great Recession. At least it has sugar mixed in! Or is that mold?

But hey, who are you to complain? You’re awake, motivated, and ready to…where’s the nearest restroom?


Brand Build (Level 2):  Safety – You Have Coffee That Won’t Make You Sick

Oh boy, you sure are glad that the office got a new shipment of coffee in. Now you can drink your daily dose without padding 15 minutes for relief before the next meeting. It’s still Folgers instant, but hey, your basic needs are getting met and you can finally drink comfortably.


Brand Build (Level 3):  Belonging – You Have Peers to Enjoy Coffee With

Good news! The office decided to ditch the instant to invest in a neat-o drip machine. This thing actually makes the coffee, would you believe it? It actually tastes tolerable. And on the side, now that the office share the same pot, the break room has become a great place to chat.

Not only do you get to have your coffee, but you get to enjoy it with your peers! You like coffee; they like coffee; hell, you even talk about coffee while drinking coffee. What a world we live in!


Brand Build (Level 4):  Esteem – From Coffee Drinker to Affection-ado

Get this: someone in HR did market research on attracting millennials. They made the case that millennials expect the absurd perks silicon valley offers as a standard. They actually convinced the company to install a state of the art espresso machine in the break room! Wowee! No one knows how to properly use it, but we certainly feel like sophisticated hipsters. Hell, Frank even came in wearing suspenders with jeans today…Jeans! Can you believe it?

Fancy lattes are part of the daily routine now. You do of course need to add a few pumps of chocolate, a dash of creamer, and some whipped cream on top. Espresso is great but it’s seriously strong stuff – definitely needs to be sugar coated.

Maybe as you master your Batista skills and learn more about coffee beans, you can slowly cut back on all the bad stuff.


Brand Build (Level 5):  Self-Actualization – Taking Your Espresso Straight

It’s a long, grueling process. You keep trying to cut back on the sugar and cream, but it hit a breaking point where all you taste is coal and you couldn’t imagine anyone enjoying that! Your coworker starting drinking the espresso straight and is totally in love with it – but how? It tastes awful!

Then one day, she gives you the worst pun ever: “maybe this coffee just isn’t your cup of tea.” You didn’t know what was more disgusting: what she just said or what’s in your cup. But then you thought about it; there are all sorts of complex flavors in coffee. They actually are more complex than wine, apparently.

So you decide to order a few small bags of coffee beans from all around the world. One by one, you put them to the test. One was great even after you stopped using cream altogether! But as you cut back on the sugar, it was a no go. The next one was terrible even WITH all the toppings.

But finally, you found one that was amazing. You took out the cream. Bolder, and curiously, better! As you start to gradually reduce sugar, you can start to taste the bitterness and not so pleasant flavors. But you surprisingly don’t mind it. They make the cup feel genuine, and the contrast compliments the pleasurable flavors of the brew.

Next thing you know, you’re drinking that espresso straight. This is incredible; you need to have Frank try this! So you approach Frank with a fresh cup, “Hey man, you gotta try this stuff. It’s way better than the stuff your drinking!” His eyes lit up and he quickly takes a sip. “Uck! This is disgusting! Why would you drink this?”

At first your confused. How can he not like this stuff? But then you remembered what Sarah said; maybe it’s just not his cup of tea (man that sounds so dumb).


It’s All About Finding Your Passion

All you can really do is try a bunch of stuff out. Don’t be bummed when you hate a line of work immediately; it’s just one of those coffee roasts that can’t even be drowned in cheap, flavored corn syrup. That means you get to pass on it and move on with your life quickly.

We get really hung up on those jobs that seem great at first but slowly lose interest in over time. It may even reach a point where we hate it. Don’t fret, this was a coffee roast that was close. Keep a personal “tasting” journal; record the flavors you enjoyed and the ones you didn’t. Next time you’re out shopping for a new role, read the tasting notes and use your journal as a guide to move in the right direction.

It takes time, patience, and careful attention to eventually stumble upon your passion. You may never get there, which is totally OK. So what if your job needs some cream and sugar to suit your taste? The more you understand about your flavor preferences, the more effectively you’ll be able to alter your cup ‘o career into a delectable dose of caffeine to get through your day.

At the very least, be grateful that you have coffee readily available and a community of co-workers all complaining about the same crappy coffee in the break room. We’re all in it together.

How have you cut back on the cream and sugar in your daily dose of work? Share your story in the comments below.



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