Purpose: This paper aims to clarify the meaning of Interactive Network Branding (INB) and demonstrate its importance for business relationship development, within a cross-cultural context of emerging markets (EM). More specifically, it integrates the idea of INB through its three branding dimensions into the first three relationship development stages introduced in the seminal article by Ford (1980). By bringing INB into relationship development, and by considering its embeddedness in a cultural context, the study extends current understanding of business relationships in connection to corporate branding. Design/methodology/approach: The study is empirical and explorative. To reach the research aims, the authors apply a qualitative approach and present findings from four business relationships in two EM contexts, namely, the Croatian and Russian markets. Ten interviews have been undertaken, and the analysis was conducted by applying sensemaking and narrative approaches. Findings: Findings show the influence of INB dimensions on three stages of business relationship development. In both EMs, the external dimension is found to be dominant for the pre-relationship stage while the internal dimension for the early stage. At the same time, mutual INB dimension, which is built on interpersonal interactions, is influencing each stage to a certain manner, while being a dominant dimension in the development stage. Also, the role of each dimension in a specific stage of relationship development is conditioned by the cultural context in which business relationships are embedded. Research limitations/implications: Based on the chosen qualitative research approach and focus on two countries, the findings might lack generalizability. Thus, future research is needed to observe business relationship development through INB dimensions in different cultural environments. Practical implications: This paper provides a new perspective for managers on coping with the development of business relationships and branding in the EM context. Originality/value: This is the first attempt to study business relationship development through branding perspective in general and INB perspective in particular. It builds a deeper understanding of identity, reputation and mutual INB dimension and their manifestation and influence on each relationship stage. In addition, the study has a cultural context, which makes it one of the rare cross-cultural studies related to branding in business marketing research.