"Your brand purpose is what makes you relevant to your audience"

Commotion's creative director, Rhian Harries, says getting to the core of a brand's purpose is the key to telling real stories

One of the hardest things we do as creatives is to constantly reinvent ourselves. We mould with time, change with the needs of the industry, react to the trends around us – all while trying to remain true to our purpose. For many, this purpose is personal and for me it always returns to the essence of why I wanted to be a ‘creative’. Mine is, and always will be, to elicit a response from an audience whether that’s laughter, tears or a whole gambit of emotions. It’s why I get out of bed in the morning.

The industry coined the term ‘brand purpose’ – a way of defining your brand’s intention to achieve something, change the world and make a difference. Simon Sinek describes how ‘People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it’.

Your brand purpose is what makes you relevant to your audience, relevance allows you to make a connection and in turn tap into emotion. What’s really special is when as a creative, you get to share that ability with a brand who really understands that to talk to people, we have to be emotionally intelligent and authentic.

We need to tap into the fundamental instincts as human beings that give us a reason to exist, that make us laugh or cry. When this happens in its simplest of forms is when the magic happens. When the brand purpose resonates with real people and with real stories.

One of the best examples I’ve seen recently is in the automotive sector. In an industry steeped in product and performance it would be all too easy to lose sight of purpose in favour of the shiny bells and whistles of the latest product. However, there are two examples in recent months in which the product is set aside.

Take the recent response by BMW to the news that Mercedes Benz's CEO, Dieter Zetsche, was to retire after 40-odd years at the helm of the business.

BMW’s resposte to the announcement is a witty and leveling dig at an industry competitor.

As the garage lifts and he departs to the words ‘free at last’ he is metaphorically and physically free of a position he’s held for many years. As the audience, we empathise but we also recognise the friendly banter between two industry rivals. For me, it perfectly illustrates my point. It makes you laugh and is a stroke of genius.

In contrast to BMW’s engineered witty reaction, we have a beautiful film ‘Dear Dorothy’ by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) that truly illustrates its brand purpose and its commitment to the company's employees. 

The film stars Dorothy Peters (pictured above), a former JLR employee, aged 88, who worked at the service department of the Solihull Rover factory in 1948. During a summer party to celebrate the brand's 70th birthday, Peters decides to show Mike Bishop – JLR's Classic Product Specialist, who was presenting at the event – some old photos of her days working at the factory. And Bishop is astonished when he realises that he owns the very same vehicle that Peters is pictured with.

He then collects a surprised, emotional Peters from her home in the vehicle and takes her on an adventure to fulfill her life-long dream to ride the JLR ‘Jungle track’ used for putting new cars through their paces. 

The result is a truly authentic example of a brand fulfilling its purpose: in this case to connect with people and more importantly to celebrate Peters. As producers of content, we have a responsibility to be authentic with our storytelling, to consider the emotional appropriateness of films while supporting brands in connecting with real people and communicating their purpose.

Rhian Harries is the creative director at Commotion@rhianharriez

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