Monday 10 September 2012

The Day Before Yesterday’s Today on Honda UK

There was a business news piece on one of last weeks’ Today programmes (BBC Radio 4) about the car industry and how it’s bucking the general economic trend (which, if you hadn’t noticed, is through the floor).

What I found more interesting was that the most sustained success was being enjoyed not by Ford or Vauxhall, whose motors you’ll see most on a motorway near you, but by the curiously quirky Honda. Honda has invested £267 million in their Swindon plant, the cornerstone of their European business, and they’ve created 500 new jobs along the way.

Whaddaboutit? They make good cars. They make great ads. They’re all over everything, making sure they have the right fit with the programmes they sponsor and have Garrison Keillor’s dulcet tones continually asking questions like ‘What if...” and supposing  “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”

They don’t apply that ethos just to things either.

Most businesses say they’re good at supporting and empowering their people, helping them to grow and develop in a dynamic environment with structured career pathways and a comprehensive package of benefits, blah blah blah. It’s all stuff they wheel out when they need to recruit so I get to write things like that a lot. But what about the rest of the time?  

You know when it’s bluff and when it’s coming from somewhere real. And that’s where I find Honda UK. Which makes it much easier to make their message resonate more with potential candidates, just by keeping it clear and simple and impactful. It’s lovely to work with a line like ‘The Power of Dreams’ when you know it’s much more than just a line. It is an ethos.

If we have to talk about it in terms of employer branding, it's a textbook study in finding what really drives an organisation and bringing it to life for an external audience. 

And so, back to the point, all of this all made even more sense when I heard Honda UK’s MD , Dave Hodgetts, use most of his very short radio time (minutes at most) not to talk about the cars, the engineering, the innovation, the technology, the numbers, their ambitions... but to talk about Honda UK people and how they’re looked after, encouraged, supported, developed, challenged and rewarded.

Speaks volumes. Nuff said.   

Isn’t it nice when things – and people - just work?