Bernadette Stevens
Mar 25, 2021

Lessons from an insurance brand’s refresh

FWD Group's vice president of brand and marketing explains many considerations the company faced, from relatable values to engaging tone of voice, as it moved to ensure a healthy brand for all generations in a digital age.

Lessons from an insurance brand’s refresh

We’d made the decision to refresh back in 2019 firstly because it’s good practice but also because it was a powerful mechanism to enable us to connect with the customers we want in the future as well as the customers we have today. This allows us to talk to people who are possibly new to (or not yet ready for) insurance and for me that’s what being customer-led is all about.

In broader terms, I also think a very deep and granular understanding of what a ‘brand’ is and does is critical. Sure, there’s the obvious stuff like a clearly defined visual identity through your logo, font, palette and photography. But there’s also the less tangible stuff. The stories we tell. The behaviours we show. It all sounds worlds away from the bottom line, but as huge brands testify, one actually feeds the other.

In our category, customers tell us that being ‘customer-led’ means several things.  They respond to less jargon. Intuitive language. Helpful signposts. Meaningful values. In short, an emotionally resonant brand. It would be easy to dismiss all of this. After all, don’t customers just want the most product at the lowest price? Actually, no and particularly not in insurance (not surprisingly, insurers are not exactly up there as the most liked or trusted category). This means that our customers tend not to be particularly loyal advocates. It also means our customers need to know they can trust us. Product and price simply can’t articulate this.

We also sit in a highly competitive category so we need to work harder to stand out through the noise and communicate as quickly as possible.

To prepare for our brand refresh we sat down and researched our strengths and considered our opportunities while working with experts in their fields. A lot remains the same: our name, font, brand promise (Celebrate Living) and our vision of changing the way people feel about insurance. We also remain anchored to our trailblazing mindset to communicate a fresh, exciting proposition and put our stake in the ground with millennials, Gen X, Gen Z and so on.

With that in mind, we’ve refreshed a few things and introduced some new assets too. For example, we’ve built out a new portfolio of photography and icons. We’ve dialled up our colour palette. The play button symbol is also a new asset that represents our assurance that as customers move through the different stages of their lives, we’ll be there too. We’ve also repositioned our brand promise so it’s additionally our tagline. All of this moves us even further away from traditional insurance positioning such as fear tactics and guilt-selling to complex jargon and lengthy contracts (Project Clarity is one of my favourite FWD projects).

All of this ensures we remain differentiated, and indeed this is what we’re seeing in our brand studies and tracking. There are of course cultural considerations. Southeast Asia is a multi-country region with unparalleled diversity so our local teams work in parallel with Group office.

Given that brand recognition is what drives brand recall, the challenge for us now is staying consistent as we settle and recalibrate. This takes time, commitment, and dogged persistence. Our brand lives across multiple areas and touchpoints so the brand refresh needed (and received) cross-functional buy-in with a mandate from the top-down. I’m so proud that all of us at FWD have this joined-up North Star type of mindset. Afterall, a strong brand vision leads to employees being strong brand guardians and ambassadors.

In the end, strong brands also attract new customers. They add power to marketing campaigns and a layer of protection in any kind of crisis. They even allow us to pivot and change direction, if we need to. Brands build reputation, trust, loyalty and ultimately sales.

I’ll be the first to admit that establishing all of this takes time. The payoffs are not always immediate. But when it’s done right, a brand works for us and keeps customers loyal and all of us relevant.

Yes of course we need a business with products and services that sell. We could just stop there and still be a success. But if we want longevity and to be a success story,  we need more than a business. We need a brand.

Bernadette Stevens is Group VP, Brand & Marketing at FWD Group. You can listen to her talk more about FWD’s brand refresh on the FWD podcast.

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