It is sad that you often recognize a business to business company at a glance.
Grey colors, stock images and sterile tones characterize most of the B2B companies we see around. I remember many of my designs being criticized with the statement: wait we are a B2B, we can’t use a smile icon for a success message.
That’s because companies usually want to keep a serious facade.
Bringing fun into the B2B world
Why does it sound so strange to bring fun into the B2B world? One reason is probably given by the fact that established companies are likely to think that showing that you are having fun connotes you aren’t serious.
But, as Levitt and Dubner say in their ‘Think like a Freak’ book, being serious doesn’t mean that you are good in getting your job done.
Having fun means that you love the way you work. And if you enjoy it, you’d also want to do more and therefore improve faster getting better results.
It is hard to understand what is the proper tone of voice for companies: should we be friendly and easy-going or formal and technical? I always try to keep in mind that in the end, every product and service is meant for humans and success stories like the Slack one demonstrate that people-oriented design could be groundbreaking.
Having fun means that you love the way you work
The Slack case
Slack, one of the hypest company we see around, made the process of corporate internal communication easy and fun. It could sound as a minor thing but if we take a look at the state of the art of internal communication services made for companies it is crystal clear it is not.
The ‘Slack approach’ is known as the consumerization phenomenon, that means bringing B2C inspired experiences to B2B products. It means to always keep in mind that at the end every product should be designed for humans.
How Slack came to this?
The company behind Slack was first designing a collaborative video game project.
They then shifted to creating this brand new ‘company chat system’ after realizing their first idea was not appreciated by the public. One of the keys to their success was probably (aside from not being too much in love with their original idea) bringing the gaming framework into the work one: the easy and fun approach is common between gamers, less common between employees.
In the end B2B products are designed for companies, and companies are made of people made of feelings. The Slack team simply considered what people, not companies, really like.
Designing for people
That’s what we thought at glueglue when designing the logo for a startup Fabian Niederkofler and I founded with other 3 young founders (who don’t take themselves too seriously) 4 years ago. Waynaut delivers multimodal transportation API to the travel sector. Nothing could sound more boring than this at a first sight, so how to give it a twist? First, we took inspiration from the outer space, which well represented the daring and visionary startup spirit, then we decided to give a personal touch by creating a sort of character – a stylized astronaut installed in a pin that points a new travel destination.
The name, the colors, the way we talk and show pictures of the team are nothing but conventional, enabling this company to emerge and communicate both the passion and innovative approach that distinguish it.
It was fun that brought us again together to develop Waynaut – something our stakeholders largely appreciate!
I am personally and professionally trying to evolve myself by not being afraid to show that I am actually having fun, because I simply love what I do, and I do believe that if B2B companies will dare to consider what people really like the results can be amazing.