Located just south of Atlanta in McDonough, Georgia, Bennett International Group, LLC is a leader in the world of innovative logistics for transportation services. They employ a unique owner-operator business model for their drivers, distinguishing them from the competition. After working with HeavyDuty Branding in the past, the marketing team at Bennett International Group presented our team with a particularly challenging branding project. 

Identifying the Problem

The 1970s and 1980s were dark times for interstate highways. With little oversight, truckers and trucking companies could do what they pleased on the roads because there was no safety standard. Accidents and fatalities happened at horrifying rates. Demand for governmental regulation reached a fever pitch, so in 1999, the United States Department of Transportation founded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The FMCSA has developed a program called the CSA—Compliance, Safety, and Accountability—to govern commercial motor vehicles through a points system. Carriers accumulate points if they fail to uphold CSA rules, and they can only lose them as time passes without incidence. By the summer of 2016, Bennett’s main trucking units—Bennett Motor Express, Bennett Truck Transport, and Bennett DriveAway—had each accumulated an unacceptable amount of CSA points for Bennett. Because many companies rely on CSA scores to evaluate and award jobs to carriers, Bennett’s low scores threatened the company’s prospects and damaged its reputation.

The Strategic Marketing Plan

Here’s the bottom line: Safety sells. With poor CSA scores, lost opportunities, and general uncertainty surrounding safety, the Bennett Safety Board presented the problem to HeavyDuty Branding, and we quickly recognized that we had to start from the heart of the company before anything could change on the client side. We launched into research with thorough and widespread internal interviews of Bennett’s executives, employees, independent drivers, and field agents—anyone and everyone associated with the Bennett brand. These were our initial findings:

  • Bennett Motor Express, Bennett Truck Transport, and Bennett DriveAway had poor communication amongst each other, and they all had different ideas of safety. 
  • Tenured executives saw no problem with Bennett’s safety culture. brand was all about, enhancing the message of safety for the site’s visitors.
  • New executives felt there was no safety culture.
  • Independent operators, field agents, and other new employees knew virtually nothing about safety culture at all.
Together, poor communication among the three trucking units and natural employee turnover had eroded Bennett’s safety identity over time. To make matters even worse, the tenured executives had worked with the company so long that they had grown blind to the bigger picture, stagnating opportunities for improvement. Once HeavyDuty Branding uncovered the inconsistency among Bennett’s associates, we knew that we needed to build Bennett’s safety brand from scratch.

Understandably, the tenured executives were not pleased to hear the research findings and challenged them. Thankfully, the other members of the Bennett Safety Board knew that Bennett’s safety message was broken and needed to be fixed, and armed with the research, they convinced Bennett to dive into a new brand identity. 

HeavyDuty Branding then presented the board with an 18-month strategy to reintroduce the gravity of safety to all of Bennett’s current employees, trainees, independent operators, and field agents. Once the company internalized the safety identity, the next part of the plan was to communicate the message with customers and prospects. 

We also developed varied communication tactics with specific metrics to track results throughout the process. Once the board gave its approval, HeavyDuty Branding created a marketing calendar for the 18-month period, which we still 
update today.

Building the Safety Brand

Because of the CSA system and pure ethical integrity, Bennett could not brand itself as safe if it was not, so creating a skeleton to hold the safety brand together was the first order of business. We designed a badge for Bennett that proudly proclaimed this simple statement: “Safety Is Priority One.” The badge would unify all of Bennett’s business units under the safety brand. 
Another core issue was that Bennett did not have a priority system for notifications, so every alert their truck operators heard was labelled an emergency, regardless of its urgency. Over time, the drivers simply tuned the messages out. HeavyDuty Branding created new guidelines for Bennett with three tiers:
  • Urgent—inclement weather, road hazards, or instant policy change
  • Watch—pending policy changes would likely affect the company and/or the truck operator 
  • Reminder—general reminders of compliance-related information  
Empowered with information, operators could be aware of all things safety-related and respond to them as needed.

Creating Tactical Elements

Now the safety brand was established, and truck operators followed the new guidelines diligently. The next step was to roll out the tactical elements which would introduce the brand to the rest of Bennett’s staff and to its customers. The Safety Is Priority One campaign aimed to improve Bennett’s reputation with high safety performance and great content, ultimately attracting new business. To realize that goal, safety needed to sit in the passenger seat not only in Bennett’s cabs but also in its offices, warehouses, and anywhere else that Bennett associates went. 

The program kicked off with a letter from the CEO of Bennett International Group, LLC to vitalize Bennett’s commitment to safety and inform employees about their new top priority. HeavyDuty Branding helped to create materials for the safety departments to distribute throughout the progression of the branding. These materials rolled in a staggered order during the first quarter of 2017, giving recipients time to digest the information.
  • HeavyDuty Branding created introductory posters which were printed and displayed in highly trafficked internal locations to expose all Bennett employees to the safety brand every workday. 
  • We conceptualized and designed print and digital templates for presentations, memos, press releases, using the 3-Tiered          alert system.
  • We wrote and designed an orientation manual          for newly hired truck operators that explained the      3-Tiered guidelines and educated the recruits on Bennett’s safety standards. 
  • We authored and scheduled social media content about each month’s events and other safety-related subject matter to inform truck operators of the month’s highlights.
As the company unified under its Safety Is Priority One identity, HeavyDuty Branding also began to implement the outward-facing elements for Bennett’s customers and prospects. They needed to know that Bennett had turned over a new leaf, and they could fully trust Bennett to deliver their products safely.
  • We helped to create foundational customer service elements including on-hold scripts, telephone conversation guideline scripts, a quick-reference FAQ, new email signatures which featured the safety badge, and even a revised settlement statement that reinforced the message. 
  • We crafted a series of monthly infographics showcasing key safety-related data, like the awards the company had received and the number of years that had passed since a CSA incident. These communications were sent to existing and potential Bennett customers to keep them in the loop during Bennett’s progress.  
  • Lastly, we created artwork for Bennett International Group’s website that illustrated what the safety brand was all about, highlighting the message of safety for the site’s visitors. 

Looking to the Future

By January of 2017, all of the elements were in place to launch the Bennett Safety Brand. Since the Safety is Priority One initiative has garnered the attention it deserves, Bennett’s CSA scores continue to drop, and Bennett employees are ready to sell their brand to new customers with safety as priority one.   
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