Emperor Foundation
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Emperor foundation

Responsible business
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Responsible business

Emerging Talent
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Emerging Talent

In going out to the specialists at Emperor on trends and predictions in 2024 for how we communicate as businesses, I was struck by the contradiction in the need to be more human at a time when technology is enabling more to be done by less humans.

The topic of AI dominated our conversations. There is no denying that AI is unlocking greater possibilities across automation, efficiencies, and personalisation.

However, the ubiquity of AI usage will amplify the need for authenticity and transparency in both internal and external comms. We see a drive to humanise communications wherever possible. Be this through face-to-face meetings, hyper personalised communications or delivering messaging through video content.

Telling a compelling story   

Strategy-led storytelling and data-driven narratives are essential in building trust and impact. As scrutiny intensifies on the accuracy and transparency of information, we see a stronger focus on better presented investment cases driven by company strategy messaging as a red thread throughout.

We’ll continue to see businesses wrestle with how to balance disclosure with communications, perhaps moving further towards separating pure data from storytelling.

And in slight counterpoint to the immediacy of Tik Tok, the rise of "slow storytelling" across B2B is significant. Clients are increasingly recognising the value in using film to explore subjects in more depth and in a much more discursive manner. This is likely to manifest itself in more episodic approaches to film, led by high-level campaign thinking rather than single use.

Long story short  

But short-form content will remain the key delivery vehicle and we will see successful brands and businesses deploying humour and creativity to engage audiences much more effectively. In a world of AI, 2024 could well be the year for the human copywriter to shine.

After years of visual identity simplification and homogenisation, 2024 will likely see a renaissance of characterful typography that speaks to the nature and personality of the business as brands seek to connect with audiences on a more emotional level.

And businesses will need to make the most of digital channels – we anticipate seeing more corporate content on Instagram for example.

Ever-increasing scrutiny  

Year on year, there's an increasing focus on business behaviour, particularly where actions don't match words.

This year in particular, for example, we will continue to see scrutiny on greenwashing & decarbonisation strategies. In June, the Advertising Standards Authority updated its guidance on misleading environmental claims in communications.

The updates included principles around substantiation of messaging; clarity and qualification in claims such as ‘net zero’, ‘carbon neutral’, ‘sustainable’, ‘biodegradable’; use of imagery of the natural world in communications; clarity in relation to the full lifecycle of products; and specificity on whether claims are referring to a product or the business more broadly.

Notably, it also referred to the need for ‘balancing information’ if a business has a harmful environmental impact but is highlighting positive activities in communications.

Experience is everything  

We have moved from ‘show me don’t tell me’ to a desire for communications to be an experience. And this shows up in so many ways in B2B and corporate communications. Features like 3D animations, virtual reality and gamification are dying to be brought in to transform more mundane, one-way content.

There are a number of immersive and engaging experiences that can be used to bring communications to life. From using PowerPoint to create fun games to help drive home key messages, policies, and values in an engaging way to incorporating clickable elements, quizzes, and dynamic CTAs within videos to capture attention but also enhance user participation and interaction.

With the rise in AI-driven data analytics we're likely to see further growth in hyper-personalised video content. More businesses will leverage customer data to create tailored video messages speaking to very specific market segments.

Giving access  

From an accessibility point of view, at the most basic level, businesses can ensure they minimise corporate terminology and stock language and use design to aid navigation and understanding within consideration of typeface legibility and use of graphics.

PDFs will need to comply with PDF/UA standards ensuring they are fully tagged (including reading order, alt text, headings, tables) in post-production to be readable by assistive technologies (e.g. screen readers).

Creating inclusive websites is time-consuming and comes with expense. But non-adoption of accessibility will at best make organisations seem indifferent and at worst come with the cost of disengaging talented employees, potential shareholders and future customers. The good news is that as inclusivity practices become mainstream, tools will evolve, making it more cost-effective.

So, with scrutiny on businesses at an all-time high and more comparable data available through regulation, differentiation will be more important than ever. Those businesses that can exhibit human qualities of approachability, understanding, empathy and humour in their communications will create deeper more meaningful connections and engage audiences more successfully.