AF Editor Mike Antich recently sat down with Wheels President Matt Dyer to discuss new brand name for the combined Wheels Donlen LeasePlan company.
What's in a Name?
AF: Let’s get right to the heart of it: why did you choose the name Wheels? What was the thought process behind identifying this name?
Dyer: A big, big week or so for us as we launched the new name, the new brand name for the organization going forward. To answer the question, we really have to go backwards a little bit to go forwards. When we brought the businesses together, we really wanted to ensure that the name had a very clear view of the legacy of the three businesses. And there was a clear customer-focus ethos through each of the three businesses.
We also wanted to recognize it wasn't just about a name, it was about the brand promise. It was about the values of the organization; it was about the tagline. We wanted something that really embodied the commitment, passion, hard work and innovation that all our people bring every day to serve our customers, to make the difference for them, to keep them moving.
And obviously recognizing the specific backdrop we had, we wanted this to be a real step forward in unifying the three businesses and strengthening the sense of partnership with all our customers.
We took a very deliberate process. We had a thorough process involving internal teams and external specialists. We did look at new names as well as existing names but had some guardrails. We knew that the LeasePlan name would not be available to us for the long term. The Donlen name has great resonance; it was already set up and reflected the two original founders of the business.
But when we got to the Wheels name, we felt it had strong brand awareness, obviously, a lot of history, and it captures what we do. So this rich legacy contributed to the outcome.
The process included assessing new and existing names, debating what would be good outcomes and making sure we had something that would look to the heritage but also be very relevant and meaningful for now, and also forward-looking to recognize the future growth and dynamism we are involved in the sector.
The decision was made. Our go-forward brand will be Wheels.
However, we also wanted to ensure it's a new Wheels. It represents the best of our collective capabilities, not just the three businesses that are coming together, but also the collective capabilities that our customers bring. We have well over 1,000 customers in the corporate fleet management space and they have always made us better as organizations.
Within the choices, we have tried to give a nod to all of the legacy businesses. The new logo, we feel, is a nod to the journey mark of Leaseplan. The color palette is a nod, obviously, to Donlen, and we're using the name Wheels, but with a fresh, new brand image.
We really think this will set us up well for the future and allow us to continue to step up and deliver on the commitments that we make for our customers.
AF: In addition to the new brand name, you also have a new tagline — “Together Let’s Go Far.” Would you elaborate on how that choice came about?
Dyer: The tagline most definitely goes hand-in-hand with the brand and the brand promise. It was very carefully chosen actually. Each of the words in the tagline had very specific s around it.
Let’s start with “together” and two clear call outs on the use of the word together. First and foremost, “together” recognizing the partnership with our customers. Many Wheels people have been in the industry for a very long time. I have, and one of the things I've always appreciated, and recognized as a responsibility, is that we are in partnership with our customers. What we do is very close to their core business. We help them be successful.
“Together” in the tagline really brings that partnership spirit, but it also recognizes where we are — bringing three companies together as one team. So really, that “together” word has this dual representation: with our customers and “together” as colleagues.
“Let’s,” for me, really works. It's an invitation — “Let’s — and purposeful. It's wanting to make sure that “together” we will take this step.
And “go” was something we wanted to be resonant with the brand. “Go” gives the strong impression of forward motion, of progress. It's a committed word. Even when we were looking at some of the newer brand names we could have used, “go” was very prevalent in them.
And particularly the final piece of it “far.” Together, let's go far. It brings vision; it brings distance; it brings ambition. It also says there's no preconceived view on the end point. The tagline will evolve over time.
For me, it brings up the famous quote, “It's not about the destination, it's about the journey.” We want to go far together, but we will have a journey together along the way.
This tagline, for me, draws on the strengths of every member of our team and brings the partnership with our clients to make sure we're defining our business and the industry for the longer term.
As I said, the tagline also links to some key headlines brand promise. It starts very clearly — “Powering your potential together." Your vision, your ambitions, we win together — really calling out the customer at the heart of what we do. We even go so far as specifically saying that for us as Wheels, success will be defined by our clients’ success. So really calling a very strong line around the need for our customers to achieve their goals.
I'm making sure this single-minded passion for customer service for leading customer service is there, and that's the company I know. If I look across the organization, everybody has a part to play in our customers being successful: the Driver Call Center representative who answers drivers calls and gets them on the road quickly; the sales teams; the client success teams.
The account management teams, tracking and working day-to-day and bringing the right solutions to the table as our customers’ needs evolve; and the client activation team, making sure new customers and new services get set up to deliver the highest quality relationship and starting point for the relationship.
The mechanical team, making sure cost control and driver productivity are top of mind; the license and title team to make sure renewals keep our drivers compliant on the road; and I could go further — redeployment, transportation, remarketing — everyone really has a chance to bring this brand promise and this tagline to life.
For me, the great opportunity is the tagline really unifies us both as a set of 1,900 colleagues within the Wheels organization, but also with our customers as well.
AF: It definitely opens a new chapter for the combined company and a new era. What will be different now and what will stay the same? How would you define that?
Dyer: We’re going through a process where there will be some things that will be different, but there will also be a lot that stays the same.
I have to stress that we want to take a very measured approach to the integration. We want to ensure the delivery for our customers remains front and center and our number-one priority.
We are starting an integration process, and we are starting to talk about how things are done differently. That, actually, is already starting to throw open some opportunities where perceived benefits or understood benefits can be made available to a wider group of customers.
The one thing I would like to call out is the commitment through culture and values. As I said, it really feels that our shared history was around customer commitment. Therefore, what we will be trying to do is building on that, through the culture and values that we have. This is very closely connected to the brand promise.
We have aligned on four cultural pillars, which, I think, will all feel similar to where we've been as businesses before.
Those four pillars are:
- Client success, wanting to make sure we unlock the full potential of every fleet and every customer and deliver a leading experience.
- Doing the right thing, with a nod to making sure we have full integrity but also take accountability.
- One team, making sure we step forward as one team and bring this community of experts together for the benefit of our customers.
- Innovation, both in terms of the longer term, really visioning some of the important trends and dynamics for our customers for the future, but also in the here and now, as we work through this sort of this important, productive, complex challenge that is fleet management and make it real and make it achievable for our customers.
We’ll move into, over time, new processes, new ways of working over time. Technology all will adapt over time. The one thing we really want to keep consistent is culture and values. We also want to make sure that our customers can continue to work with their representatives and relationships that they know work. Therefore, even the brand itself might phase in over time. And we have made a specific step to ensure minimal disruption for drivers.
Actually, though we have a launched the new corporate name, the Go Forward corporate name, we have not communicated that to drivers because they will continue to work with their legacy organizations, processes and procedures for quite a considerable period to come.
Even though you might see the new Wheels name on corporate websites, on adverts and in other particular pieces of media, we really want the message for drivers to be: “Use your current ways of working. Work operationally.” because we know that brings them success and, ultimately, we need to make sure they stay on the road and can be successful for their customers and for their employers. That's really the clear message coming out.
And just one last thing: as always, thanks to the support from all of the Wheels employees and all our customers. We look forward to sharing more with you as we tread this journey together.