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People powered branding.

Regardless of division, department or job function, there is one touch point that connects all people in a company--the corporate brand. When all employees consistently behave in a way that expresses the business's core beliefs, the company is practicing "people powered branding."

In "The People Powered Brand: A Blueprint for B2B Brand and Culture Transformation," my colleague and Co-author Joe Bannon and I define "people powered branding" as, "The process for creating and delivering a consistent, credible, desirable and unique expression of a company's core beliefs and intent by aligning its products, marketing actions and employees' behaviors to the commitments and concerns of the customer."

That's a mouthful, but simply stated, people powered brands connect a company's brand with its people's behaviors (think company culture) inside and outside the company.

While products are integral to the bottom line, every product brand can be enhanced by a strong corporate brand.

And while product brands are typically supported by brand managers and marketing teams, corporate brands rarely receive dedicated, full-time attention. Yet leveraging the value embedded in the company brand can be a powerful point of differentiation.

Now let's take a deeper look at why the company brand can have so much inherent power.

Corporate Brands Span the Entire Enterprise. The corporate brand encompasses every physical location and every product. It stands behind every product and service offered by the business including all of its people, products, services, customers and stakeholders.

In contrast, product brands mainly touch subsets of customers or employees. The corporate brand also speaks to how the entire organization does things and what customers can expect.

When strong, the brand is a testament to the quality of every product and service offered and in many cases even serves as a de facto guarantee that product brands will do what they say they will do.

Corporate Brands Endure. The longevity of the corporate brand also merits consideration. Corporate brands continue over the long-term even when products are retired. The corporate brand has the greatest number of touch internal and external touch points. While product brands come and go, corporate brands endure.

Corporate Brands Complement and Enhance Product Brands: Depending on the company, a corporate brand may be in the foreground or background. Let's take animal health and crop protection categories. These businesses normally put the product brand in the foreground and the corporate brand in the background.

While the promoted product brand takes center stage, the corporate brand in the background contributes to the product's credibility and trustworthiness. The value of the corporate brand is particularly important when introducing a new product line.

Other categories--including farm equipment and seed companies--place the corporate brand in the foreground. These companies leverage the heritage and reputation of the corporate brand as an endorser of the product.

Whether in the foregroundor the background, strong corporate brands can boost credibility and provide added value to the products they complement.

Corporate Brands are Difficult to Duplicate: In most markets today, corporate brands can provide a true point of differentiation. Why? Because copying products has never been easier. No longer can a company expect product or feature exclusivity for long.

But while competitors may duplicate technologies and marketing strategies, can an outsider truly replicate a company's brand, culture and essence? Can it credibly duplicate the way a company's people represent the brand through their interactions with customers? The answer is no. Copying a brand is nearly impossible.

Joe and I believe that every company brand is stronger when its people share a common understanding of the brand and live it inside and outside the company.

So how does a company get its people to focus on living out the company brand? In the next issue of Agri Marketing, we will look at a process for aligning a company's people with the company brand.

by Chris Wirthwein, CEO, 5MetaCom

Chris Wirthwein is CEO of 5MetaCom, and co-author of "The People Powered Brand: A Blueprint for B2B Brand and Culture Transformation." Chris may be contacted at cwirthwein@5metacom.corn.
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Title Annotation:The People Powered Brand: A Blueprint for B2B Brand and Culture Transformation
Author:Wirthwein, Chris
Publication:Agri Marketing
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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