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Ford Hires Former Apple Executive to Lead Branding Effort

Ford Motor has hired former Apple executive Musa Tariq to help boost the automaker’s brand and make it standout from its rivals as it moves beyond its traditional business model of building and selling cars and trucks.

Tariq will begin Jan. 30 as vice president and chief brand officer as part of Ford’s expansion to an auto and a mobility company. This is a newly created position. Tariq will report jointly to the automaker’s head of marketing Stephen Odell and its communications chief Ray Day.

Tariq was formerly the global marketing and communication director of retail at Apple, where he launched initiatives to enhance the consumer experience in the tech company’s 490 stores. Tariq was also senior director of social media at Nike and global head of digital marketing at Burberry, where he later became its first director of social media.

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This is the latest effort by Ford CEO Mark Fields—and the company’s board—to bring in talent from outside of the traditional automotive industry.

Ford’s broad transportation plans, announced back in 2015, involves building cars with Internet connectivity, developing autonomous vehicle technology, and using big data collected from sensors in cars to learn more about how people travel.

Ford expanded on that plan in January 2016 with several new initiatives, including a free mobile app called FordPass that is supposed to serve as a sort of Swiss Army knife for transportation. It helps drivers find and pay for parking, borrow and share vehicles when traveling, and schedule service appointments.

Since then, the automaker has launched three new ventures in the San Francisco Bay Area, including bike-sharing program and a dynamic shuttle service through its acquisition of Chariot that uses software algorithms to find the best routes and determine rates. The company also announced in August plans to make self-driving cars for commercial ride-sharing or on-demand taxi services by 2021.

Ford also created Ford Mobility LLC, a new unit tasked with investing in and building out the automaker’s transportation services, including car-sharing and ride-hailing. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based business, which also has offices in Dearborn, Mich., is headed by Jim Hackett, former chief executive office furniture company Steelcase.