101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior
Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at Vodafone
“Alexa mono-directionally guides you with one’s voice. Their speakers funnel and gate-keep your interaction with the brand and that’s risky from a brand perspective. I think there are more people in the US with Amazon Prime than who voted in the last election. Brands that depend on e-commerce should spend more time on this. If they don’t, they’re putting a very expensive mortgage on the future.”
Quique Vivas, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Vodafone
Quique has worked for Vodafone since 2006, where he joined from BCG. Since then, he has held a number of management positions in marketing, digital, sales, strategy, finance and operations. In 2018, he joined the Czech Board as Chief Commercial Officer from Vodafone’s HQ in London, where he was responsible for Marketing Strategy and Propositions in charge of digital marketing and implementing global marketing and pricing strategies across the whole Vodafone Group. Quique graduated in communication science and law, he gained an MBA and is currently back to university, where he will be graduating in Philosophy. He has lived in Madrid, Prague, London and Düsseldorf. He has two young sons, Max and Alex. His passions are cinema, reading and music. Quique is also a former boxer, a keen footballer and an average drummer.
Uli Reese: Describe your role at Vodafone.
Quique Vivas: I’m the Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, based in Prague. Before that, I was the director of marketing and digital. At Vodafone, we aim to connect people for a better future. If you look at our evolution, we started as a mobile provider where we gave access to telecommunications. The whole brand has evolved and in terms of connectivity we sell something now that is very cool and meaningful.
Reese: How important is sound in the customer experience at Vodafone?
Quique: Sonic is clearly one of the best identities we can have. In the past, because of Vodafone being a local brand, but being executed globally, the main assets we used were the speech mark, the colour red and the tag line. We have never fully enriched these assets with sonic, but I still believe it’s relevant.
Reese: Your brand is known for bringing new music to a large audience and that’s a unique approach…
Quique: Yes, but we lack the consistency of musical components. We don’t use non-voice noises or a distinctive voice but try to have a common thread in the music we choose. When we repositioned a couple of years ago, we went with the same music but in some markets, they targeted locally. For example, in Spain, they used Absolute Beginners by David Bowie, which they used in different ways depending on the mood of the campaign. Pop music doesn’t necessarily trigger the brand, so you can use it to set the mood, but potentially it’s also available to the competition. That’s the trade-off.
Reese: How important is sound in building a brand?
Quique: For me, it’s the most important copyright. When advertising went from just audio to TV, audio was not enough. But in order to convey a consistent and distinctive message, audio is way more important than the visuals. It’s the glue that pulls everything together.
Reese: Do you think that enough resources are put into an audio strategy?
Quique: I don’t think we currently have a systematic approach to sonic. We need to understand the investment and then link that with the assets.
Reese: So how do you make better decisions?
Quique: If you want to convey a message by using only visuals it would be like Spielberg not talking to John Williams when he was making the Jaws soundtrack. You’re limiting yourself. It’s often a financial decision, but music is the thread that offers consistency and one that connects with the emotion of the customer. If you want to leave that out of the decision-making process, you’re crippling yourself.
Reese: But some brands are resistant to a Sonic Brand-Book…
Quique: I have the opposite point of view. I want the freedom of a tight brief. Can you imagine a tennis match without any white lines? A brand book is the same. You need detailed guidelines as it enables your creativity to be unleashed.
Reese: Do we ignore the emerging screenless ecosystems at our peril?
Quique: Alexa mono-directionally guides you with one’s voice. Their speakers funnel and gate-keep your interaction with the brand and that’s risky from a brand perspective. Podcasts are different as it requires me to pick my own choice, whereas Alexa is the opposite. Brands must take this seriously. I think there are more people in the US with Amazon Prime than who voted in the last election. About 80%. So, it’s not the future; it’s right now. I spend a lot of time with my digital team analysing data. Brands that depend on e-commerce should spend more time on this. If they don’t, they’re putting a very expensive mortgage on the future.
Reese: Why are so many brands deaf to this?
Quique: It comes with the mentality of not being able to experiment. It’s hard to understand the trade-off when the investment is not high. But if you don’t see the potential, you are limiting your business.
Reese: Is the answer in communications everyone bringing out their own smart speaker?
Quique: It’s industry-standard that someone has a product, and then you leverage that by producing another version. Would it be wise to build your own voice command system and compete with Amazon? Probably not. We need to give an answer to customer needs and insights, and for sure, voice command is an important trend… but that does not mean that every company should build their own.
Reese: Brands lose the visual part of their identity when entering any screenless ecosystem. If they have no Sonic Identity, they have no leg to stand on. Are Brands prepared?
Quique: I consider myself a marketer, and after a while, as it evolves, you discover that it’s hard to differentiate yourself. I’m a movie geek and strongly believe that HBO content is better than Netflix, but sometimes I go to Netflix because the customer experience is easy. So I think the disruption will be in the journey and every single touchpoint. In that light, it’s relevant to take sound and audio seriously.
“Whoever is not investing in sonic because Instagram does not require audio would be making the same mistake as someone that would not do video in the past because press only used pictures.”
Reese: I always say don’t design for Instagram as it probably won’t be here for decades. Do you think that the customer experience is going to change again?
Quique: Whoever is not investing in sonic because Instagram does not require audio would be making the same mistake as someone that would not do video in the past because press only used pictures. On Instagram, they don’t listen to music, but on Tik Tok, sound is really important. That’s one of the things that draws my attention. They are linking the video with the audio. Sound is really important. Radio and TV are still the two key channels for increasing awareness, and you spend time there, so why not across all the channels, including social? It’s counter-intuitive not to spend time or make a big thing out of audio.
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