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 and of everyday transactional life.
As the noise is gets louder our attention span gets shorter. The Internet and the splintering of traditional media has 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 in the pursuit of preeminence and client 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 goes the argument.
Well, yes – people are inevitably involved in the decision-making process. And until the unlikely day they are supplanted by AI and machines, carbon-based life forms will always be involved. And that’s where the divergence between B2B and B2C branding begins.
On a side note, the great irony of life during the pandemic is that consumer brands have had to make the biggest adjustment to virtual relationships. There’s an app for everything, and with anything you could possibly need just a click away on Amazon and delivered to your doorstep without a single interaction with an individual the future looks less person-to-person than platform-to-person, but that’s another story.
The basic premise B2B and B2C brands respond to the same aspects of human behavior is deeply flawed. Lumping them together as “brands” and in the belief they are both equally susceptible to the same branding techniques ignores a critical reality: they exist in vastly different worlds.