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Belief in business: authentic connections

From the carousel to radical openness

02 September 2019

illustrations on red background

‘It’s not called the wheel. It’s called the carousel’.


This was peak Don Draper, and peak Mad Men. Lights dimmed, he drew on personal memory and nostalgia (Greek for ‘pain from an old wound’) to pitch a simple Kodak slide projector as something far more powerful: a time machine.  


While clearly a piece of fiction (and arguably the greatest three minutes of TV ever made), the famous ‘carousel’ scene is a reminder of what has always made great advertising, great: a clear, human insight that creates a simple, powerful connection between the customer and the value of a product or service.


However, recent research commissioned by Radley Yeldar revealed something fascinating.


No matter how clever, profound or touching, advertising alone cannot generate meaningful, lasting connections with modern audiences. Only a third of us say advertising has the potential to inspire belief in a business.


A business inspires belief when its audiences – employees, customers, investors, stakeholders – are moved by what it stands for and where it wants to go, and can see how it will get there. It’s a crucial combination of inspiration and evidence. And it matters now more than ever: three in five of us say we’ll remove our custom from a business we don’t believe in. Nearly half of us will refuse to work for such a company and 40% will withdraw investments.


Meaningful connections today are authentic. Today’s audiences detect authenticity through far more than mere moments. They want: complete honesty and transparency; to be listened to and have their feedback acted on; and measurable evidence of progress against business and sustainability goals. And they demand to be engaged and communicated with in plain English. They expect more in a literal sense, too: more frequent and relevant information communicated, in more ways.


Our latest belief in business research suggests that corporates looking to generate belief need to better consider a range of channels in their marketing mix. Three out of five of us rely on well crafted, informative websites for evidence on a company’s progress. Corporate reports are valued by more than just investors: over half of us trust it as an audited, point-in-time summary of performance and planning. Elsewhere news coverage, influencer commentary and social media content are all critical.


But there’s something else that is far, far more important. That something is employees.


Audiences consider employees to be the most credible source of information when it comes to generating belief in business. Only a fifth of the population value or listen to the opinions of CEOs or the board, compared to over three fifths valuing those of an everyday employee.


Clearly the opportunity for companies to harness employee voices – from messages on culture to financial performance and business practices – is huge. Official social feeds aren’t generating the buy-in brands expect (only 26 per cent of people say this content will make them feel more positive about a business) and collectively, employees typically have a social media following ten times larger than their employer. But while there’s an opportunity to build an engaging, trusted presence through employee advocacy, the opportunity turns to risk if your employees aren’t happy.


Of course, none of this can be viewed in isolation. Choosing the right blend of information channels is important, but if the information on them isn’t consistent (experience suggests organisations with siloed teams and a multitude of internal voices struggle with this), belief will die. It shows inauthenticity. And there’s simply no wriggle-room when it comes to authenticity – 95 per cent of us demand it.


The conclusion is this -


You may not need a ‘carousel’ moment - a greater number of smaller, honest, well-coordinated and information-driven moments in the right channels could be far more powerful. Fail to deliver and your audiences will be off – taking their skills, custom and investment with them.


About RY

Radley Yeldar is an award-winning, independent, London and Birmingham-based creative consultancy. Our 200-strong team of specialists has been helping to create a world that believes in business for over 30 years, through a unique blend of business and strategic integrated services – including employee engagement, reporting, sustainability, brand positioning and identity, purpose and more – all brought to life through film, campaigns, experiences, print, digital content and platforms. Evidence times inspiration is the new formula for success in a changing world and everyone needs something to believe in. So let’s get started.


For press enquiries, please contact Georgia Carmichael, PR Manager