Daimler and Mercedes-Benz: How brands influence a name

“What is in a name?” – I remember reading the above quote a few years back and wondering to myself; do the names we’re given influence the way we live or does the way we live influence how our names live on and are used after we’re gone?

Being named Moses, I’m sure you have somewhat of a reason as to why this has been a pressing question of mine.

Come to think about it; I would have loved the opportunity to put a similar question to both Mr. Daimler & Mr. Benz over a coffee when they set about creating their inventions over a century ago. “Did you always have the intention of creating a celestial machine which would be renown throughout the world? Or was it something that just happened?”

Gottlieb Daimler in his study around 1898

What do Daimler and Mercedes-Benz signify to me?

The reason for me asking is that for as long as I can remember, Mercedes-Benz has represented the best when it comes to automobiles. I recall my father speaking about his love for his silver C-Class a passion which was then passed onto my brother who fell in love with his convertible E-Class.

Looking back at both cars now, I realise how both of these purchases stood for something, they were statements; nothing but the best. The same can be said for Heads of States, Politicians and other people of high regard; when we see them being chauffeured, more than likely it will have the famous three-pointed star its bonnet. It wasn’t until I started much later that I came across the name Daimler, as the parent company of Mercedes Benz. But even the name itself has a ring of prestige to it.

Carl Benz as a student approx. 1860

My question to Dr. Z

Since I can’t put this question to either Mr. Daimler or Mr. Benz, the next best question was asked to Dr. Zetsche back in 2017:

“How does Daimler as a company live up to the ideals of success and mitigate any setbacks along the way?”

It’s known that running a company is no easy feat and in the quest for success, mistakes will be made, failures will occur and people will be disappointed. But that being said, Daimler always seems ready to bounce back from any hiccups and claim it’s position as a leader in the industry. Intrigued by my question, Dr. Zetsche invited me to visit Daimler at their headquarter in Untertürkheim and get a peek behind the Daimler curtain.

Now when we think of brands, we must be clear that they exist in our minds. Okay an AMG Mercedes is tangible; you can feel the thunder from its exhaust but we buy into brands. We fall in love with the story of what the automobile represents.

Dieter Zetsche at the Annual General Meeting of Daimler 2018 in Berlin

A peek behind the curtain

There is no other way to put it other than; there is a spirit of excellence running through Daimler. A commitment to excellence that starts so far back in the company’s history, you immediately understand why Daimler is so far ahead of the competition.

The attention to detail on the seat of the very first Mercedes tell a story of luxury & innovation. A story which only progresses as you proceed through the Mercedes-Benz timeline. This is something we have been spoilt with; every year we expect a new fleet of cars, with the latest innovation and styling.

But what I wanted to understand was the process behind this, how do you embed this ethos into a working culture, so everyone involved breaths this air of excellence and is fully invested?

Daimler Headquarter in Stuttgart, Untertürkheim

Well here is a quick summary of the lessons I learnt from my visit.

  1.  Start as you mean to go on
    This is self-explanatory; the start is the best indicator of how you plan to continue to progress. Growing into an ethos isn’t as strong as starting with it and it seems that Daimler has always had an ethos of innovation and pushing boundaries. This can be seen with the attention to detail of the very first Daimler automobile and as you progress through the Daimler timeline, each car evolves with times and technology available.
  2. Never compromise on your values
    Values are the steering ship of a company and should be included in everything [absolutely everything] that is done in the company. During my visit, I was told of a legend by some of the team that the Executive board hadn’t always been based in Untertürkheim and this move happened fairly soon after Dr. Zetsche said he wanted to smell the aroma of diesel from the factories. The story was told with so much warmth that you felt the sense of pride, the love of what was being done. “We’ll never forget that…”
  3. Cherish all corners of the organisation
    Daimler does an amazing job of empowering employees. They are given the space to have their ideas heard and championed. Wellbeing is also a priority and gives them the space to carry out their roles to the best of their ability. I think transparency was the most enlightening lesson here. Keeping everyone in the loop as to what was going on around them at any given time. Autonomy and accountability are how Daimler instils this ethos of excellence throughout the company.

Emil Jellinek with his daughter Mercédès. Taken around 1895

My thoughts on the question

There is something hidden in a name that inspires, drives and makes us constantly take a step forward to make sure that we are living up to the touchstones. It is not only duty but sort of a rite of passage; a compass so to speak. And if lived up to; after the person is long gone, their name will continue to live on and set standards for generations to come.

So I guess the answer to my question is; everything is in a name.

But let me put it over to you… What’s in a name?

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Moses is a London based Digital Marketer who currently is an account manager working with some of the world's brightest sports talent. Prior to this he founded "The Successful Failure"; a project which worked with young people to deep dive & explore failure and then go on to teach how the experience can be used to achieve success. Having worked closely with the likes of Chelsea FC, Unilever & more; Moses has become a champion for social progress and continues to work with similar organisations.