Crafting Purpose-focused Food & Lifestyle Brands

Case Study: A Story about Improving Lives Puts a Shine on Apple


In our “8 Principles of Purpose-focused Content Marketing” blog post, we touched upon how having purpose provides an outward focus upon customers for content planning, and that having a purpose shows you care. From a content strategy perspective, these are qualities that can lead to content that engages on a deeper, meaningful level. It’s content that taps into an appreciation people have for brands that stand for the greater good.

In our ongoing pursuit of brand examples of purpose-focused content, we were recently introduced to the video “Dillan’s Voice,” produced by Apple.

Here’s our breakdown of this project:

Project Title:

Dillan’s Voice



Content Type:


Eye-opening Metric:

For a brand that drives video views through celebrities and product release videos driven by big budgets, this video’s 4 million plus views demonstrates the power of storytelling based on “real people doing real things.”

The Story

DillansVoiceDillan’s Voice is a story of not just improving lives, but of transforming lives. It is exemplary of what brand storytelling can and should be about.

Before talking about why Dillan’s Voice is such a stand out example of brand storytelling, it helps to reflect upon Apple’s image as a brand as well known for its super cool, super hip, super slick product promotion videos as it is for its products. In fact, you know when a brand is not just capturing the zeitgeist, but defining it, when they’re parodied on CONAN.

But with Dillan’s Voice, Apple cuts through the noise with a story about how their products can be transformational in the lives of their customers.

Dillan’s Voice is the story of Dillan Barmache, a young man with autism. In his case, autism has left him without the ability to verbalize his thoughts, from birth.

But, we learn in the video, just because he can’t verbalize his thoughts doesn’t mean he has nothing to say.

It turns out that Dillan, through the use of an iPad and AAC apps (augmented-alternative communications), is a thoughtful and articulate teenager.

“So many people don’t understand that I have a mind,” he says through his iPad, reflecting the reality that many people might think of a person like him as dumb or lacking in intelligence.

“All my life I’ve wanted to connect with people,” Dylan says in the video, “but they couldn’t understand because I had no way to communicate.”

Through statements like this you become connected to Dylan’s struggle. You become connected to the almost unimaginable circumstance of having a mind, yet not being able to express yourself.

Then, you’re introduced to the way that the iPad has been Dillan’s salvation. And it’s pretty mind-blowing, when you think about.

Through his iPad, Dillan describes an existence almost unbearable to consider.

“Having autism was like being in hell,” he says, “and it was a lonely existence.”

“When he began typing, he said it was like being freed,” says his therapist and communication partner Deborah Spengler, in “Dillan’s Path,” a companion video to the “Dillan’s Voice” video.

Why We Like This As Purpose-focused Content

  • Dillan’s Voice is outwardly focused upon people who benefit from their product in a way that is different from the ultra-hip, ultra-cool imaging that makes up a great majority of Apple’s YouTube videos; it’s less about “us” as the brand and more about “you” and the benefit you can gain from the product.
  • In “Dillan’s Voice” we see Apple focus on the greater good value that can be achieved through the use of their product, the iPad. In today’s context, any time you can connect your brand to a greater good outcome, you have a story that people will take the time to listen to.
  • The production quality of the video is high, from the interview setting and lighting, to the shots captured by embedding for a day or two in the life of Dillan. These include the shots of him jogging, shooting baskets and the news clips of him giving a high school commencement speech. In just 2 minutes, this micro-documentary has told a macro story.

What Could Be Improved

There’s little evidence that “Dillan’s Voice” is part of an orchestrated mini-documentary series focused, for example, on the transformative power of the iPad. It appears to be a one off.

The opportunity missed is to not only highlight the products through meaningful storytelling, but to further enrich those whose lives are impacted by partnering this content with related nonprofits.


While Dillan’s Story is beautifully produced, as you’d expect from Apple, not going the extra mile of producing this as a series of stories, and not aligning with related nonprofits, is an opportunity missed to deepen brand affiliation through brand purpose. For this reason, we’re giving this project a 6 out of a possible 10 on our Content that Matters Scale.