Why B2B branding is no longer fit for purpose

As the boundaries between our work and personal lives become increasingly blurred, it’s time to ditch outdated marketing terms and create business-to-people brands that build deeper connections, says Nalla CEO Vicki Young

Like many who are immersed in creating brands, I’ve come to realise that B2B is an increasingly restrictive, outdated term. Whether it’s unconscious or explicit, the idea of setting out to create a ‘B2B brand’ comes preloaded with certain associations; it’s probably going to be safe, serious, functional and, dare I say it, a little dull. As creatives we have an awkward shorthand for this type of approach — it needs to feel corporate.

The best brands for business, such as MailChimp by Collins, don’t follow this mysterious unwritten rule, yet the concept of ‘B2B’ itself rarely gets challenged. The initial decision for a company to define itself as a ‘B2B brand’ means more than its customers being other businesses. It hints that, for some clients, there’s already a preconception of what the brand can and can’t be, and what it should and shouldn’t look, feel and sound like.

Clients can often find it difficult to step out of this mindset, perhaps because there hasn’t been an alternative narrative up until now. Business-to-people (or B2P) branding not only creates a more resonant, connected brand, it also quickly identifies a potential client’s ambition and openness.