101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
HUBERTUS (HUUB) DEVROYE
Director of Global Marketing at Dow
“Challenging times force us reflect on things we took for granted in the good times. Auditory stimulus – sound and tone – are great examples. And what a great opportunity.”
Hubertus Devroye, Director of Global Marketing at Dow
Devroye joined Dow in Horgen, Switzerland, in July 2010, as the Marketing Leader for EMEAI, and assumed his current role in December 2018. Devroye established one of Dow’s critical global marketing growth programs around “Integrated Demand Generation” and “Marketing Automation”. He has extensive global B2B and B2C marketing, branding and commercial experience based on prior roles with DuPont de Nemours and Sara Lee Branded Apparel over the past 15 years. In his seven years at DuPont, Devroye held both corporate functional leadership and business unit marketing leadership roles. He also led the implementation of a market-driven and industry marketing approach in Construction, Energy, Food and Transportation for DuPont in both developed and emerging markets.
Uli Reese: Tell me about your role at Dow.
Hubertus Devroye: We created “new” Dow, a world leading material science company, in 2019 out of the DowDuPont merger which happened a few years before. Our CEO, Jim Fitterling, set out on a very interesting course for Dow to become the world’s most innovative, inclusive, customer-centric and sustainable material science company. My role in Dow is to build a strong Marketing function, including one of its critical pillars around branding. Branding historically, especially in B2B, is treated from a corporate perspective, and not necessarily in the context of Marketing in the businesses – taking a market-back view. So, to the delight of many of our marketers, we moved branding into Marketing as a priority and it’s great to have it back there. Building on the great work already done, we are taking a clean sheet of paper and start looking at how we are going to move forward with great storytelling, visuals, images, sound and tone of voice.
Reese: What is the perception of Dow as a brand?
Hubertus: When people think about our industry, very often they think we only make the ingredients that go into products that go into solutions that ultimately end up with end consumers. Emotions are not necessarily associated with the science of the ingredient itself. However, if you look at what our CEO set out to do, and you put engineering and science in that context, it is very exciting and emotional. In terms of corporate branding we have a strong brand with lots of history and Dow has made a deep impact in many areas. If you look around you there is probably something of Dow in everything. I am at Dow and in Dow Marketing because it is fascinating. I’m not an engineer, chemist or a scientist but I love to work with them. I ask simple questions in a highly sophisticated environment. Very often science is complicated, but the beauty is that the story has a simplicity to it and that’s the opportunity this industry offers. You have all these ingredients, products and solutions touching a human life. This has become even more apparent during the pandemic.
Building on the great work already done, we are taking a clean sheet of paper and start looking at how we are going to move forward with great storytelling, visuals, images, sound and tone of voice.
Reese: Do you think the oversaturation for visuals is about to change because of smart speaker systems. Alexa is here to stay and now with COVID people don’t want to touch things anymore. Will there be a shift?
Hubertus: For sure there will be a different mindset coming out of this, emphasizing, amongst others, the importance of human voice and sound overall. Sometimes challenging times make us reflect on what we took for granted in the good times. Sound and music are great examples. With Spotify and Amazon, we have more access to music than ever before. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself. In the past you had to go into the record store with a specific choice in mind. Now you have everything at your fingertips in real-time, and in digital format. The flip side is we forget that sound or music is an art, and it takes an artist to create sound or to interpret it. I’m now listening more to the tone of voice in addition to the content. So maybe now’s the time to look at the sonic DNA of a brand.
Reese: So how do you distil the brand into sonic?
Hubertus: You can make great and impactful science speak in all kinds of different ways and I don’t think people have experimented enough with sound in our industry. We have done some, but there’s enormous potential for more and it resonates with me. Our CEO recently said that it’s a super exciting time to be in marketing at Dow, and this is certainly part of it. A unique opportunity for our industry. I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and happy to be part of this!
Reese: Would you agree that voice is the number one trust builder in digital?
Hubertus: Very true. I work for a global company and during the pandemic we have all been on conference calls or using digital capabilities to stay in touch. What happened is that everybody in some way has become equal. My team told me they have become a better and more inclusive team in the pandemic because they had to take into account the way they were talking to one another. Trust building had to happen in a different way. In this case through voice and sound.
Reese: Audio is the big equaliser but are brands prepared for this?
Hubertus: If you’re asking if “sound” is essential in branding, I would say yes. Have brands done enough with it? Probably not. Even more than in B2C, you could argue that focus on product in B2B(2C) is even stronger, and therefore it’s true we have not done enough with sound. I’m hoping when we come out of these challenging times and people start to rethink to up our brand impact and awareness efforts, marketers will ask themselves: ‘Are there different ways of storytelling?’ The worst thing we can do is that we go back to that fast pace of living and forget what we observed and learned.
Reese: Today with technology anyone can produce content suitable for broadcast. Does that make a difference?
Hubertus: We have everything at our disposal which is great but it requires marketers to be even better. It’s going to be interesting to see who the truly great marketeers are, who understand the world they are living and operating in, and who can make a true difference. We all have three options when disruptions happen; one, you can hide and wait until the storm blows over, two you can be super grumpy and negative, or three, you truly embrace the change or disruption and go for it. There are only going to be a handful in the latter category, but that makes it super exciting. I often feel like a kid in a toy store.
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