101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
Chief Marketing Officer at DiDi
“Regarding consistency, the core function of a brand is to become trusted. If you change your personality every time, I don’t trust you because you’re not genuine. This is an extension of that. With sonic, ultimately, I think we’ve probably been distracted by other things and forgotten the importance of this sense.”
Andrew Garrihy, Chief Marketing Officer, DiDi
Andrew Garrihy is the Chief Marketing Officer at DiDi International Business. Prior to joining Didi International Business, Andrew held various senior executive positions within renowned companies, including Huawei, Qualcomm, Samsung and Vodafone. Mr. Garrihy’s brilliant execution plans are recognizable; he has won distinguished awards such as the Cannes Gold Lion, Marketing Director of the Year, and Brand of the Year. Extremely talented and results-driven, Andrew Garrihy remains an authority figure in the industry.
Uli Reese: What is your role at DiDi?
Andrew Garrihy: Formerly at Huawei, I’m now the Chief Marketing Officer at DiDi for all international markets outside of China. My focus is on helping DiDi build a world-class brand, and one that’s immediately about to expand. We’ve currently got a great presence in Latin America and are a leader in China, but we want to bring these benefits to the rest of the world.
Reese: Why has audio gained dominance in the last three years?
Andrew: Voice is the most natural way of communicating we have. Now with the proliferation of technology it’s becoming more important because technology, is getting to a point where all of our screens will be connected. If you think about the overwhelming visual stimulus, we face every day, and how we filter brilliantly, I think what sound is doing is so simple because it cuts through it all so beautifully. Sound is the ultimate transportation vehicle and not just in space but in time. We can hear a sound and be transported instantly to our childhood, or I can hear the sound of a souk from Marrakech and be transported to when I was last there. I don’t think there’s any other stimulus that can do that. Also, sound is one of the greatest anchors to unlock emotion or emotional recall. That’s why we’re seeing a rise of sonic influence, and it’s only going to get bigger.
Reese: Consistency is key, but so many brands opt for using pop culture, which has merit but isn’t made for longevity…
Andrew: As we learn the importance of consistency in the visual, we also need to learn the importance of consistency in this world because otherwise it’s like a leaky bucket. If we don’t have the consistency it’s all running out at the bottom. I’m probably as guilty as others because I’ve looked in the past to borrow attributes from other people’s music or work by licencing other music because we thought that was the right way to do it. I still think there are some benefits in that – but that’s like changing a visual identity every week, right? We all know it’s a bad idea. Again, regarding consistency, the core function of a brand is to become trusted. If you change your personality every time, I don’t trust you because you’re not genuine. This is an extension of that. With sonic, ultimately, I think we’ve probably been distracted by other things and forgotten the importance of this sense.
Reese: Then along comes AI. If I knew 100% what you were thinking, I could change your buying behaviour…
Andrew: AI has enormous potential. I want to quote composer Lucas Cantor from Huawei’s Unfinished Symphony project (Cantor completed Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony No. 8 using AI technology) because he calculated it beautifully. He talked about the AI as the ultimate collaborator; it never got tired, never complained. It just had endless ideas. That model is really interesting because what we keep hearing being asked is how do we get consistency but enable creativity and flexibility? So that’s one level. The next level is much more challenging, it’s how do we use mathematics or music, and the algorithms, to generate the right result at the right time and still be distinctive and consistent? I think it’s immensely possible, but like all machine learning, it’s going to take training and practice.
Reese: Is being late to the party down to being uneducated, or do we just need more iconic cases that people can refer to?
Andrew: Part of the challenge is the way brands are being built. Historically, brands were based on an old-fashioned model, which was in the pre-purchase phase with lots of big advertising, but it’s not as effective anymore. Brands have to be built through the entire customer experience. Many of our agencies and marketers are still in that first phase, but things are moving on. Look at Tesla; they’re building their brand in the product in the post-purchase, so that when I think of a sonic identity it’s got to be present in every part of the experience, in short form and long form content and user generated content. It’s got to be present and flexible enough to work in every part of the consumer experience. It’s complicated, but that’s where we need flexibility, creativity and balance with real consistency – and that’s challenging.
Reese: Consumers want to see authenticity. They don’t want brands to merely jump on the bandwagon…
Andrew: Audiences, especially younger people, want to be moved and inspired. We all want a credibility transfer, and to some degree it works, but I think authenticity is absolutely critical. Audiences now want brands to inspire them, so that’s the challenge. There are still times and places where we can look for credibility transfer as we try to build strong memory structures and emotional hooks in those memory structures. The question is how to do the creative work that reaches people. That’s harder and riskier because we don’t have a lot of time or the perfect formula. We’ll fail many times before we get it right.
“I think key for truly great brands in the future is how we really add value, not just to our consumers but to society.”
Reese: So what conclusions can you make?
Andrew: I think key for truly great brands in the future is how we really add value, not just to our consumers but to society. Going back to an AI project we were researching at Huawei, we explored how we might help Alzheimer’s patients to re-live moments of pure joy through music. One of the concepts we explored was the potential to use facial recognition and emotional recognition responses generated by playing them songs from a time gone by. By monitoring their facial expressions, the AI would learn which ones generated the happiest emotions and would then start finding those songs. It’s really exciting, and has potential far in excess of what many of us are probably thinking about even today.
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