There’s No Such Thing as “B2B”

Posted in Insights

To do B2B branding well, it’s useful to realize there’s actually no such thing as B2B.

It may seem obvious, but a business never speaks to another business. To imagine otherwise is to forget that no matter what purchase decision is being made, it’s always being made by a human. It’s always H2H; it’s never B2B. As with all good branding and marketing, either it’s humans engaging other humans, or it’s not engaging at all.

Using that logic, there’s not much use for the term B2C, either. The word consumer at least implies a real human’s involved. But if you’re like most humans, you’re unlikely to ever describe yourself, or anyone you care about, as a “consumer.”

Why are these semantics important? Because building brands requires total focus on delivering your vision to your audience. Anything that creates distance or artifice between you and your customer increases the risk you won’t connect with them. More likely, you’ll gravitate towards a safe, undifferentiated, and impersonal industry average.

That said, there are still differences in how to best communicate with humans in their professional roles. For instance, you’ll share more practical, in-depth proof points to support an involved purchase and build organizational consensus. But the best B2B branding always communicates— through vision, experience, and expression—in ways that begin with human emotional response. Just like people make their own purchase decisions, those who make business decisions seek brand values like trust, competence, and intelligence.

We work with B2B brands to cultivate what may seem to be a more outwardly B2C voice, tone, look, and feel. But the bigger point is that Brand-Led Business Building® for any audience requires an H2H mindset, as in these examples:

The humans at these businesses are connecting with humans at other businesses, using design, imagery, and purposeful words in ways that shoot right past B2B and B2C into H2H.

The old saying, “no one ever got fired for choosing IBM” reveals one truth about B2B: no matter how practical the drivers behind decisions may seem, behind them are very human, emotional considerations, like “I’m gonna go ahead and hire the safe, big, trusted, smart firm that my boss is least likely to yell at me for hiring.”

So remember, behind every B or C is always an H that deserves most of your attention.

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