Building blocks Featured

12:22pm EDT May 26, 2004
Branding can be discussed in the corporate board room, but for it to really take effect requires an effort from employees in every position.

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, an Elyria-based manufacturer of truck components, has created a program to teach employees at every level the importance of branding and what it can mean to their own personal development.

"We have a good foundation of employees, some of who have been here 30-plus years and some that began today," says Barbara Gould, communications manager for Bendix. "All of them make up the Bendix brand. They all bring something to the table. This program enables them to recognize how they contribute and how they can achieve what they want to achieve."

Raymundo Garza, human resources manager for the company, says Bendix wants to accomplish something similar to what Southwest Airlines has done.

"Southwest was very successful in building branding through each one of their employees," says Garza. "The way they behave is what Southwest is all about. They attract the type of talent or people that want to work in that type of environment. When they attract people to Southwest, they are the kinds of people that display the values of the organization.

"We want to create something like that approach. We see this as a way to attract the right talent that will be aligned with our values as a business and be willing to work to make the Bendix brand better and stronger and put us ahead of the curve. We want to be proactive. We know these will be long-term results, but by building the right foundations now, we can achieve our goals."

An employee council leads the program and plans sessions that fit specific needs. By focusing on individual employees and showing them how they can build their own personal brand, the company expects the branding effort to carry over to the outside as well.

Employees are taught the basics of branding and encouraged to develop their own brand based on successful attributes as a means of personal development.

"This really focuses the same energy and the same commitment of branding back through the employees," says Gould. "It allows the employees to actually make the Bendix brand inside the company."

The thinking is that if each individual employee strives to be the best as part of his or her own personal brand, Bendix will end up with an entire work force of employees who are committed to the same values as the company's leadership.

Gould says that so far, about 40 percent of the company's 1,800 employees nationwide have been exposed to the program's core message.

"It's important if you are trying to enhance your culture to make sure that as many people can be exposed to the message as possible so they can put into practice what they learned," he says.

Employees surveyed about the program gave it an overall score of 4.49 out of five, showing that the message and activities are well-received, something Garza credits to the fact that employees lead the program.

"Employee leadership is a big component of success of the program," says Garza. "It's a big component of the success of Bendix in general. There is a lot of commitment and conviction from the employees. Employees are driving things throughout the organization.

"At the end of the day, everything they do and how they behave -- it all impacts Bendix." How to reach: Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, (440) 329-9000