The Five Foundations of a “people powered brand”

The principles behind successful B2B considered purchase brands

What’s the nature of successful B2B considered purchase brands? Do they hold certain traits in common? Yes, they do. Successful, people powered, considered purchase brands exhibit five principles that set them apart from their less accomplished competitors. These traits, which we call The Five Foundations, work as a filter: Every company branding effort should be run through them. The Five Foundations provide ideals for a brand to aspire to.

The Five Foundations

Principles of The People Powered Brand

  1. Consistency — the brand behaves and appears to all audiences in ways that uniformly adhere to a central set of guiding principles.
  2. Credibility — the brand can be counted upon to make realistic promises, stated and implied, and live up to them.
  3. Desirability — the brand appeals to what people want, speaking to their wishes, dreams, longings and aspirations.
  4. Uniqueness — the brand behaves and appears in a distinctive and special manner that is unlike others.
  5. Do-ability — the brand can be executed. The company possesses the capabilities, resources and resolve to create and faithfully sustain the brand.
“The Five Foundations of a people powered brand” is adapted from the book The People Powered Brand A Blueprint for B2B Brand and Culture Transformation.

It provides a step-by-step process for bringing together the untapped resources of employee engagement and customer insights to create B2B brands with the power to win.

Available at: |

Every company branding effort should be viewed in the context of these important principles, yet one look at the list of The Five Foundations suggests a number of things successful people powered brands avoid.

Successful, people powered brands DON’T:

  • Appear and behave in ways that are self-contradictory.
  • Exaggerate or make claims and promises they cannot deliver. They do not pretend to be things they are not.
  • Focus on things they believe are important at the expense of what customers want.
  • Constantly seek to imitate, copy and mimic instead of developing their own way of being. (Copying is what generic marketers in all fields do, and their company brands are almost never strong.)
  • Commit time, energy, people and resources to efforts they could never expect or hope to achieve.

Nearly every company can achieve a few of The Five Foundations, but only the most successful people powered brands are able to achieve all five at the same time. Do-ability is often the major stumbling block. Many companies confuse lofty, achievable branding efforts that inspire their employees and customers with impossible-to-execute plans that demoralize them and drive them away. The Five Foundations help establish a brand that people — customers and employees — want to get behind and execute.

About the authors

Chris Wirthwein is Senior Director at 5MetaCom and helps clients people power their brands, advising them on strategy, messaging, communications and tactical implementation in the marketplace. Chris has worked with many of the world’s leading companies in medical devices, building products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness and other industries. He can be reached at:

Joe Bannon is Senior Vice President, Global Marketing and Brand Strategy at 5MetaCom, where he advises clients on corporate branding and new product launches. In that role, he also assists clients with getting their people enrolled and aligned behind their brands. He has conducted brand enrollment sessions with thousands of employees in dozens of countries around the world. Prior to joining 5MetaCom, Joe spent 32 years at Elanco, which was at that time the animal health division of global pharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company. During his time there, he served in a variety of sales, marketing and senior leadership roles. He spent 22 years working in the company’s international businesses, retiring in 2009 as Vice President of Global Operations for Elanco. Joe can be reached at:

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