Brands should prioritise play, people, and purpose as we move towards a post-pandemic normality, says James Rutter, Chief Creative Officer of food brand COOK.  

Speaking at MAD//Fest London last month, Rutter said that all brands should frame the increasing return of employees back to office life this September as a “return to play and not work”. The past 18 months has made COOK realise how much it has missed ‘play’ as a function of marketing and innovation.

“Play is how we discover what we are collectively capable of. Play has a mind-expanding magic quality”, said Rutter.

For Rutter, the concept of play links to COOK's desire to be considered a 'people brand'. Whilst many businesses claim to be people-first, COOK's ethos is to use the power of the collective to release the benefits of a playful brand.

Rutter went onto say that as COOK adopts new digital technologies, people will take on a more important role within the business.This is because new technology allows people to be more creative and come up with new ideas.

Purpose is another important element of COOK's brand but Rutter says brands should not confuse "going out and doing good sh*t” with purposeful business. Purposeful business combines profitability with doing social and environmental good. Rutter says brands can bring “something to the table beyond money and philanthropy” that also doesn’t hinder their own financial performance.

In fact, Rutter showed that COOK's sales growth had gone hand-in-hand with their ‘proof of purpose’ milestones such as introducing the living wage, better animal welfare measure and using solar power.

Over 8,000 people attended MAD//Fest on 7-8 July in-person and via the virtual platform. Speakers included new KFC CMO Jack Hinchliffe, S4 Capital Executive Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell and Resi Founder Alex Depledge MBE. Full sessions are available now on our YouTube channel.