Every buyable commodity and experience is branded – music, art, entertainment, countries, travel destinations, shoes, politics, clothes, celebrities, food. They are all “positioned” and marketed to stand out above the din of everyday transactional life.
As the noise gets louder our attention span gets shorter. The internet and the splintering of traditional media have fragmented the market in micro-communities and interest groups. The market is no longer “mass.” The dialogue is one-to-one in which “brand” has become the lingua franca of management consultancies, advertising and marketing agencies, and PR companies – all in the pursuit of client relationship preeminence and access to budgets.
So, in all this coagulated conversation about brands, how is it possible to draw a distinction between business-to-business and business-to-consumer branding? Surely, when it comes down to it, branding is branding. Aren’t they basically the same thing? It’s still all about people selling to people.
Well, yes – of course. People are involved because they have to be. Until machines run all business transactions (and that day might not be too far off), someone – a person – has to make a buying decision.
Ironically, human interaction is becoming less the norm in B2C.
With anything you could possibly need just a click away on Amazon and delivered to your doorstep without a single conversation, consumer behavior and the relationship with brands is beginning to change accordingly. It is increasingly more about comparison shopping and third-party reviews than brand loyalty.
But, when it comes down to it, corporations are not consumer products. Lumping them together as “brands” in the belief they are both equally susceptible to the same branding techniques ignores a critical reality: They exist in vastly different worlds.