What according to you is the most preferred leadership style in today’s business organisations, given the changing profile of employees?
Leadership for me is creating more leaders within the organisation and creating an environment where people take decisions and learn from them independently. The age of looking up for decisions or depending on the corner office is passé. Today’s organisations are more complex and are pushing for higher growth. So, organisations need to first set the right value system in place. This will work as a rudder, giving directions to the employees. At the same time, organisations need to invest in creating more leaders internally, which will help them race ahead. This in my view has to be the top-most priority.
Briefly share with us how DHL became the largest logistics company in the world.
Deutsche Post, the state-owned German postal service, was transformed into a private corporation in the early 1990s, as a result of the German government’s initiative to deregulate monopolies. The corporation then decided to complement the traditional domestic mail service business by building a global logistics business providing end to end supply chain solutions to customers worldwide. As part of this vision, Deutsche Post then acquired DHL, the worldwide Express company founded in America in 1969. Given the international nature of the business, the board realised that it needed to establish a truly global brand to unify and migrate other domestic businesses that had been acquired over time to establish the world’s largest logistics player to meet the challenges of globalised trade.
What kind of challenges did DHL face on its way to become an iconic logistics brand?
Today, DHL is a vast global network across more than 220 countries and territories and has about 285,000 employees worldwide. Our expertise lies in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services. But building the brand, from scratch to what it is today, has been a journey of many challenges and learnings. DHL has made huge brand investments globally and prescribed a framework for investments at a country level. Over the years, DHL has not only made its brand management operational by targeting brand elements and activities but has also developed a strategy that is consistent with the global brand positioning and concept which is adaptable to the specific requirements of local markets.
In India, DHL Express started operations in 1979. DHL pioneered the express business globally and in India too, we were the first to offer door-todoor time specific delivery to customers. This has given us tremendous opportunity and advantage of being the innovators and the first movers in the industry. Today we are a highly trusted brand and service customers in every segment and industry. Our promise is to offer simplified sustainable solutions to all our customers – from large corporations and multinational companies to small-medium entrepreneurs and individual retail customers.
What according to you is the role played by employees in building brand DHL?
DHL Express’ FOCUS strategy, announced in 2010, is the fundamental management philosophy that drives DHL Express throughout the world. The FOCUS strategy is built on four pillars: namely – people, service quality, customer loyalty and profitability of business. If we have ‘motivated people’, they will deliver ‘great service quality’ which will lead to ‘loyal customers’ and ensure a ‘profitable network’. At DHL, we are deeply guided by this strategy which also contributes to the three bottomlines of the group – we want to be the provider of choice for customers, an attractive investment for shareholders and the employer of choice for our staff. These goals are all closely related: satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers on whose loyalty the economic success of the company rests. Our group strategy continues to apply and is now closely intertwined with the business strategies of the divisions. While it is true for all organistions that employees are the most critical element of a brand, it is especially so for a service company like DHL, where perceived customer experience, more than product attributes, determine attitude towards the brand. As custodians of the brand, employees are responsible for delivering what the brand promises and hence central to the organisation’s brand value and reputation.
What is DHL’s brand communication strategy?
DHL’s brand communication strategy is driven by the company’s goal of ‘becoming the logistics company for the world’. To establish this, DHL launched a global campaign that was aimed first and foremost at the decision-makers in today’s business world. The multitiered, multi-channel concept includes TV ads for international broadcast, advertisements in leading media around the world as well as product campaigns in both print and digital format. Flyers, mailshots, banners and tactical local advertising will also supplement the campaign.
This comprehensive approach guarantees a uniform brand presence and at the same time creates synergies between the individual marketing activities on a global scale. We have also made sure that global advertising resources are utilised effectively at local level.
DHL also has brick and mortar presence in every country in the world. So, our customers can easily locate us. Our world-class 24×7 customer service ensures that every customer query is answered within record time. So giving customers access to absolutely everything they need to make a decision on makes them realise that DHL is right there when they need its service.
What’s the annual turnover of the brand and where do you see things five years down the line? Please throw some light on the market share too.
According to the BrandZ study conducted by the market research institute Millward Brown, the DHL brand climbed two places to 98th on the list of most valuable brands in the world and its value increased by 17.6 per cent to US $8.9 billion for FY 2013. Millward Brown calculates brand value based on the current financial situation along with the contribution the brand makes to the company’s business success. In 2013, Semion Brand-Broker calculated that Deutsche Post’s brand value had remained unchanged at 13 billion Euros. This again ranks us number six amongst the most valuable German brands. Factors analysed include financial value, brand protection, brand image and brand strength.
Our strong position as market leader in the German mail and parcel business and in nearly all of our logistics activities is the best possible basis for our further growth. The Deutsche Post DHL Group generated revenue of more than 55 billion Euros in 2012. In India, DHL Express is the market leader in international air express with close to 50 per cent market share.
What are the new things happening at DHL currently?
Over the years, DHL has built a strong platform of very successful global partnerships as a highly efficient multi-channel platform for CRM and communications, touching target audiences emotionally in private sphere around their personal interests and thus creating impact beyond logistics/ product portfolio. Each year we review and extend our programmes to address broader scope of interests, new target groups and countries. In India, we continue to leverage on our association with Manchester United, Formula One and fashion weeks.
In April 2014, the DHL global brand TV campaign was launched in key markets including India. The campaign is to reinforce the brand in mass media and TV ads will be run till November 2014 on air with our various channel partners like BBC, ESPN, CNN, Star Sports, Discovery, etc.
We are also running a digital brand campaign, which will be an interactive tool to engage SMEs. This will complement our local efforts with SMEs too – which is the SME forums that we host in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Since the past two years, we have also successfully run 20 SME forums and this year we will continue to go to newer markets and cities. The events are to engage with our SME customers in these markets and address their logistics needs and provide an understanding of other speciality areas like Finance, IT etc. DHL is also the Official Logistics partner for the Procam marathons in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi.