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‘Creativity can solve problems and create solutions’: Gojek on brand innovation during a pandemic

As a brand with a mission to solve daily problems and create impact at scale, ride-sharing service turned super app Gojek knew it had the capabilities to pivot its business quickly as consumer behaviours changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The brand, which supports two million drivers, 500,000 merchants, and 170 million users across South East Asia, noticed that as SEA countries went into lockdown, safety and hygiene concerns ranked very high on the agenda of its customers its drivers’ livelihoods were threatened by the pandemic.

“We made some adjustments to make sure that our supply lines are open so that we can fulfill the needs of customers. We also made sure that safety measures are enhanced to cater to the safety needs of our customers and help our partners to become more resilient in this kind of context,” explains Ainul Yaqin, the group chief marketing officer at Gojek, during The Drum's Can-Do Festival.

“We had to innovate quickly too. For example, we have been partnering with Halodoc, so during this pandemic, we can ensure that consumers have access to telemedicine. We also introduced contactless delivery for GoFood and educate our merchants, drivers to ensure they practice hygiene and safety. For GoMart and GoShop, we also found ways to help our customer get their groceries while staying at home.”

Yaqin explains this pivot would not have been possible without having creativity in the brand’s DNA. He says Gojek believes creativity can solve problems and create solutions. For example, he points to Gojek’s tagline in Indonesia, ‘Pasti Ada Jalan‘, literally meaning ‘there is always a way‘ in Bahasa Indonesia.

“Creativity is also reflected in our culture and the way we serve our consumers. I give you an example. We had a manifesto film when we relaunched the Gojek brand with a tagline call ‘Cerdikiawan’. It's like playing with words a little bit. Cerdik means smart, a little bit of timing in a positive way. It is a reflection of how we solve problems for Indonesia despite the obstacles in our way,” he says.

“We are lucky in Gojek that we have the advantage of having an in-house creative lab. Being in-house, they understand Gojek inside out. That's what they do, full time. They understand the brand, they understand the culture, they understand the soul of the company, and how we translate that into the creatives. However, we also make sure that what we are doing is within the boundaries of brand DNA. So, the creative can be very edgy because we want to push the boundaries of creativity. I told them that, ‘Hey, you can go as crazy as you want.‘“

He adds: “At the same time, we have this framework of brand DNA, so it has to be on brief, it has to be on-brand. My creative team and my marketing team have good and healthy debates on pushing the boundaries.”

According to Yaqin, the pandemic has strengthened the belief within Gojek that instead of changing course, it needs to reinforce its mission to ‘solve daily problems‘. At the same time, it also wants to continue making a social impact for multiple stakeholders including its employees, partners, customers, merchants, and drivers.

“We have learned that because the pandemic is a human race issue, our response to that must be very human. We take a very human approach and then, we think about what that means to the business. We are not looking at how can we sell more, but how can we sell, make our product relevant and safe,” explains Yaqin.

“That means while the pandemic has impacted us in a big way, we believe that we have an obligation to support our partners. In March, we set up a Gojek support fund foundation, called Yayasan Anak Bangsa Bisa, in Indonesia.

He adds: “The purpose of that is to provide support for our partners and to provide a little bit of income stability during this crisis. The Gojek leadership is donating 25% of salary for one year to that fund. On top of that, we made the decision that we are redirecting the entire budget that was planned for company salary increases into that fund as well. It is not enough to just talk about support, we have to make that into reality.”

Yaqin spoke with The Drum’s Shawn Lim as part of The Drum's Can-Do Festival, an online event celebrating the positive energy, innovation and creative thinking that can make the marketing community such a powerful force for good. You can watch the interview in full here.

Sign up to watch forthcoming sessions and see the full can do schedule here.

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