What is post consumer branding?

Lincoln Smith
9 min readJul 18, 2021


Photo by Cris Tagupa on Unsplash

Just marketing hyperbole?

Before we detail what post consumer branding hints at, can we even envisage a post consumer world? Our market oriented way of life seeks the rarification of want as a way of differentiation. Wants are engendered to be monetised such that would we know what to do with ourselves if we were post consumption as a relationality? And if we are unable or perhaps unwilling to imagine this, would this be telling in the sense we presuppose too much when it comes to our way of life? Unquestioning allows want to be a relationality implicit within marketing, this assumption is dangerous as it leaves open what we are unable to see when beholden to givens. Maybe we are cynical so this question is only considered rhetorical so a provocation to initiate another round of marketing hyperbole of no consequence. Let’s put it another way:

  • are we capable of at least entertaining the difference in what we do being post consumer would entail?
  • Would persisting in a way we communicate testify to a dogmatism that has nothing to do with marketing or branding per say but rather draw attention to a diminution we accept, if unknowingly when market oriented?

Maybe we can help answer this with a few simplifying questions:

  • What credit do you give people to create the world?
  • How far would this credit extend, where would the threshold to this agency exhaust itself?

Whether we recognise this or not questions such as these tacitly underpins the approach to people when considered “consumers”. Marketers are always telling themselves, perhaps in the hope they say it enough one day it will be true they address people as people. Therein is the start of a cynicism as the way towards life is never questioning in light of the way we presuppose when an opportunity has been defined by a market. We can say people are oriented to life yet do not extend them credit for the way they are so oriented when want is primary. We give them credit for their want, and in some circumstances this may be pushing it considering our way of life is simply about disinhibiting wants to capitalise on, to literally monetise goodwill as an entry on a balance sheet. A post consumer world would have to implicate the way, an entirely different way that abandons the implicit limitation accepted unquestionably when no credit is given to people they create the world.

What story?

when the only thing you see are markets to differentiate rather than the relationality to potentialise that connects both….this is the limitation you unknowingly work against

To be post consumer would mean the way you engage people is beyond the legitimacy of want that otherwise sustains the relation. To put the customer 1st means they will always remain that. For them to become a customer you must have defined the opportunity according to their being a consumer 1st so frame the opportunity through this lens rather than consider how you can approach people so as to potentialise the initial relation beyond want you otherwise circumscribe it to. To do so would collapse markets otherwise considered distinct, and bring confluence in strategic direction to people irrespective of where they are, whether inside or outside your enterprise. This obviously presupposes your customers are potentially your employees, though not necessarily so considering employee and consumer value propositions should be aligned so as to be indistinguishable. And some business units service internal markets in the same manner as if they were external to the organisation.

Photo by John Jackson on Unsplash

If you do not consider the assumption such differentiation entails you will persist in addressing people such that you will be beholden to the dross of your communication in light of the cynicism it induces. This is because the diminution of what it means to be is accepted in your overtures, so perpetuates a way of making you beholden to something you cannot see, when the only thing you do see are markets to differentiate rather than the relationality to potentialise that connects both. The way people are given in the opportunity is the limitation you work against, so are forced to disinhibit them through alignment with values, the spruiking of purpose and intangibles that for the most part can be seen as supplementary to what is never questioned at the outset. We do not mean to suggest the customer is not important , but if the relationality is defined by want then the tacit acceptance of the customer 1st principle ensures the relation cannot be potentialized beyond this reduction of agency.

We ask:

  • How could an opportunity be given whereby it potentializes the relation beyond its reduction to want?
  • What would need to be a prerequisite for the accusation of cynicism to be short circuited?

As we said we are not offering this for another round of marketing hyperbole, the consequence of assuring you this means we have to address the one issue that acts like a virulent cancer to constrain possibilities, this is cynicism. No doubt even now, your nose is twitching for the scent of bullshit you presuppose. This is why we say the only cause business need address is the cynicism they perpetuate. But there is only one way it can be addressed, this is a matter of difference, divergence or plain heresy, a thought crime you will have to entertain.

Post growth world

what occurs when choice is no longer a preference between substitutable things but rather the relationality the business sustains? Think about that for a moment!

This brings us back to the question we asked at the outset; how much credit do you extend to people to create? If there is no limit then this credit inversely works against the goodwill you would otherwise appropriate. As the opportunity to shift the relation from want to creativity implicates people are co creators in our way of life. For the shift to occur means you are on the other side of the rule of consumption, and are truly positioning for a zero growth world. And maybe you will be able to see how consumption is a substitutable activity, but then again maybe not! To get there you have to potentialise the relation beyond its diminution when a customer 1st mentality is accepted without question. This is a matter of culture. So once again we are brought back to artificial distinctions that cannot be substantiated in light of a way that does justice to people when they are given credit for more than their wants. Culture here, is not the domain of consultants, managers, nor the gatekeepers that police boundaries, seek alignment, ensure consistency to preserve good will. It is rather a way of releasing your surveillance, so as to animate a dynamism that is not beholden to what you do, as the culture surpasses the boundaries you presuppose. There is a permeable boundary, a liminal space as people become the culture bearers of a new way through the way good will is animated or escapes the ledger on a balance sheet. Heresy, i’ll get the wood!

So how would this be achieved? To potentialise a relationality means co operating with other businesses though in a way the command of people holds sway. For if people were only ever as good as the demand business seeks to leverage through disinhibiting wants then what occurs when choice is no longer a preference between substitutable things but rather the relationality the business sustains? Think about that for a moment! What makes a business sustainable? If you say profitability then you conceal the relationality for the return on want that must be maintained to maximise it. If sustainability is considered more holistically so encompasses “stakeholders” so triple, quadruple bottom lines does this way of approaching what sustains a business address the want implicit within the overtures, the proclamations of? You have the pretence to sustainability because you address negative externalities or have an intimate relationship with your suppliers so provides a level of transparency, yet the one place there is no such transparency is the given of want. The relationality is concealed through these overtures such that what is given as difference, or change, is just “good business practise, as change is given in context of the opportunity that in no way diverges from the current paradigm. Differentiation to position, is still positioning in a market and here lies the limitation of thinking, if we can even call it that! We call it dogma.

No longer a consumer of life

good will cannot be monetised…when what you do, what you are involved in is larger than the market you are focused on…

If people no longer consider they are as good as their wants, and more importantly no longer accept themselves as “consumers” of life it would mean business would have to abandon the way they substantiate the unavowed story they are always telling people. If change is always supplementary to business in the sense it makes good business sense, then the opportunity to do good beyond intangibles would be a way of removing the cynicism that is engendered in our way of life, when its spruiking is an opportunity for differentiation or branding. But if you have to abandon the way towards people the goodwill monetised through the improvement of your brand position, would become the problem you are addressing. Why? Because a good not beholden to a market, means good will cannot be monetised. Why? Because what you do, what you are involved in is larger than the market you are focused on.

Photo by Bianca Lucas on Unsplash

The opportunity to unmarket the relation means people become loyal to a way of engaging them that does not impoverish what it means to be as a person. Loyalty to this way means the good will cannot be captured by an individual brand as such but is rather “common” an intangible of a way, a culture the business is immersed in. In this way culture can no longer be seen as an asset of business, but is given beyond the domain of business to potentialise the relation whereby markets otherwise consider distinct can under go “confluence” a possibility contingent on the relationality so what truly sustains the business, and not the effect of the relationality being profitability. This is a key difference. To unmarket, the methodology is irreconcilable with currently “branding” as everything is back the front, such as the apotheosis of the good you aspire to if realised would mean your removal, as you merge with “life”. The way to remove cynicism comes through a deferral when you become part of something bigger than the market you are focused on. To defer to the custodian of the trust implicit when goodwill is released to be animated, is a prerequisite to break the cynicism otherwise engendered when potentialising the relation. To Enterprise Good if people have never been given credit they create the world to all of a sudden address them in the manner that does justice to their potential for creativity, means the way they are usually addressed is what makes the way that differs suspect. This can activate the reflex of cynicism, as it is just another tactic to generate loyalty and so levels off the potential that to begin with can only be hinted at. Enterprise Good as the custodian becomes the way to remove the disease of cynicism that would otherwise poison the relationality. To move beyond the presupposition of the consumer, beyond the prosumer, the trend of conscious consumption, the touting of intangibles and address the existential claim over life through an initiative of enterprising a new way of doing things is a precursor to answer a question that at 1st glance seems irreconcilable:

Where does growth come from in a zero growth world?

Think about that.

If there’s no limit to the credit you extend to people then why would a post consumer world not be seen for anything else than a given when the full scope of agency is given the due regard to command the orientation toward life? If we take people for granted, then the diminution of our world will be all but guaranteed. If we can ennoble ourselves through a way of potentializing our aspiration through the democratisation of creativity then surely this apparent ideal absurd as it sounds will not seem so ridiculous.

  • What is the trend of intangibles pointing at?
  • What is the market for meaning hinting at?
  • What does this say about peoples agency, and what it means to be when market oriented?

There is room for turns, in the margin of your existing practises there exists the potential to do something new, something altogether heretical.

If marketing is ++good isn’t it about time we entertain a thought crime?

Originally published at https://enterprisegood.com.



Lincoln Smith

I am a no one like you, amorphous, ready to be defined, to be brought forth, to be given credit for my want of life, so i can be a consumer of it.