Transforming the Insurance Sector From Laggard to Leader
See related article published on Digital Insurance.
While the pandemic took many industries on a rollercoaster ride, few had so many previously set-in-stone strategies, processes and go-to-market gameplans completely upended as the insurance sector.
For both established carriers, newer insuretechs, brokers and the multitude of channels in between, no organization was spared the shock of tectonic changes such as rapid, forced digitization, caused by stay-at-home requirements for consumers and work-from-home orders for insurance employees. Not to mention issues like litigation related to workplace safety during the acute phases of the virus.
But not all ills in the insurance sector can be blamed on the pandemic. Rather, Covid-19 exacerbated long-simmering issues in the industry, in particular around the challenges for organizations to create a clear value proposition and meaningful differentiation to actually stand apart from the competition. A brand identity that delivers both employee and customer value as well as go-to-market performance has often proved elusive for many players in the sector.
Instead, many organizations relied on catchy advertising campaigns with fun human and animated characters, cut-rate pricing tactics or other zero-sum strategies that avoided answering a critical question for any business – what is the clear, differentiated product or service we offer our customers, that gives us a competitive, sustainable advantage versus our peers?
BrandCulture has a history of helping companies throughout the insurance industry ecosystem tackle these issues head-on. Insurance is in our DNA – both of our founders have years of involvement with the sector, and one was even an agency owner – and there are a number of bedrock strategies that BrandCulture employs with insuretech clients, including Hi Marley and Decision Research Corporation and with carriers like Plymouth Rock that have established a clear baseline brand strategy, consistently positive employee and customer experiences and enduring go-to-market performance.
These foundational business roadmaps help future-proof our insurance-sector clients from such systemic shocks as pandemics, economic downturns or other seismic shifts that catch many competitors off-guard and unprepared to manage rapid change.
Unique Headwinds for the Insurance Sector
To be fair, the insurance sector doesn’t have it easy. Viewed suspiciously by consumers, heavily regulated by a jumble of state-by-state guidelines and with a largely commoditized marketplace that challenges differentiation, it’s no wonder that insurance is a complicated business that often has to resort to cheap tactics like price wars or flashy (and expensive) ad campaigns to gain traction.
Web-like interrelationships among various stakeholders in the sector — brokers, legacy carriers, reinsurers, specialty lines and now a new crop of insuretech start-ups further complicate this rocky terrain. The result? A confusing patchwork of key players all struggling for a voice in the din, as well as an inconsistent customer experience especially given the nature of the agent/channel delivery system, resulting in poor retention and renewal rates and other important metrics despite the natural inertia inherent to what for many remains a low-interest, low-involvement purchase.
Large personal lines carriers, for example, for the most part differente on the personality of their brand solely through their advertising. Very few have focused on longer-lasting product or service innovation. While some leaders like Progressive and GEICO differentiate themselves through a positive digital experience as well as price, many still struggle to have a clear value proposition and points of differentiation.
On the other side, insuretech companies are competing on a constantly-shifting battleground, in an increasingly cluttered marketplace. As soon as one organization produces an original concept, 10 others pop up overnight to copy it and steal market share. Many new insuretech platforms also may lead with their digital experience but subsequently struggle with the lack of human interaction, or a clumsy handoff to live support when necessary.
BrandCulture’s strength across our insurance and insuretech clients has always been based on three fundamentals:
- Clearly articulating the value that the organization brings to its customers and partners, through a compelling brand promise, insightful design and differentiated messaging;
- Developing strong organizational cultures, which give employees a reason to believe in a bigger mission beyond their specific role in the company and support both recruitment and retention;
- Optimizing performance organizations that drive revenue and business success.
Steps for Sustainable Success for Carriers and Insuretechs
BrandCulture’s comprehensive understanding of the insurance sector, breadth of technology-led brand development experience and extensive insurance and insuretech client engagements have given us a unique vantage point to help navigate the trickiest of industry challenges:
Brand Development – Take Care of the Basics
From the precision of brand messaging to the inspired visual identities our designers provide, our pragmatic approach to brand development helps drive differentiation and competitive advantage.
But that’s just the beginning. These foundational assets are little help until they’re activated. As they say, execution is everything. It’s not sufficient to have a tidy mission or vision statement that are words in a brochure or tacked on a wall. BrandCulture works with clients beyond strategy and core assets to develop messaging to influence specific audiences, create deep-dive brand books that lay out exactly what the brand should look and sound like and comprehensive business systems that assure consistency through documents, websites and other marketing collateral.
Culture Building – Employee Experience Drives Customer Experience Every Time
Brand is not merely an external manifestation for customers and the market. Brand and organizational culture are inextricably interwoven as well. Customer experience is a direct outcome of employee experience, which is why we’ve built a whole set of capabilities around aligning and enhancing employee experience for insurance clients.
These days, customers are paying more attention to doing business with companies that align with their values. Despite technological innovations, they’re doing business with people. Aligning outside marketing with a vibrant, clearly defined corporate culture helps build ongoing human rapport with clients. Sharing not only the values and goals of the organization but also the motivations and aspirations of the people behind it helps assure that employees and customers share common ground and goals.
BrandCulture’s culture framework deploys different leverage points to align employees, partners and stakeholders throughout the insurance industry ecosystem around your value proposition:
- Lead by example and provide leadership development programs across your organization, particularly to help nurture historically underrepresented groups;
- Establish frequent and consistent communications to assure your teams are informed, educated and engaged to help deliver against your organizational strategy;
- Create reward and recognition programs to reinforce expected behavior and successes;
- Design an in-office or remote workplace environments that reinforce your brand and culture while providing your teams the resources, tools and amenities to maximize productivity and performance;
- Evaluate your organizational structures, systems and processes to create working methodologies conducive to optimal individual and team performance;
- Introduce hallmark celebrations and unique symbolic representations that reinforce your desired brand and culture experience and galvanize the organization around Shared Purpose.
Performance – Drive New Revenue and Growth
Brand, marketing and culture-building initiatives ultimately must advance business objectives. BrandCulture supports insurance clients by helping systematize the process of turning products and services into profits with a range of revenue generation activities, including initiatives to:
- Align sales and marketing to continuously improve commercial execution and create a virtuous cycle from lead generation to product delivery;
- Identify target companies and engage them with personalized conversations;
- Establish integrated digital and traditional marketing programs that build lasting relationships that lead to new opportunities;
- Bridge the gap from marketing communications to commercial operations, sales enablement and related cross-functional collaboration;
- Drive revenue and growth through email campaigns, social media, PR, advertising, go-to-market strategies and other outreach.
Our Roadmap for Building Strong Insurance Organizations
Over many years, BrandCulture has honed a replicable methodology for helping organizations in the insurance space stand out from the crowd, attract and retain great talent that supports a growing customer base and advance go-to-market strategies that result in high organizational performance. Our approach combines complementary sequential and contemporaneous steps:
- Examine your brand positioning and brand messaging and articulation of value proposition;
- Create visually distinct brand identity systems that cut through the clutter;
- Extend your brand across all customer touch points;
- Engage across the employee experience;
- Execute on a go-to-market strategy that helps insurance players execute effectively.
We invite you to review our insurance sector case studies to see how we have helped others working across the insurance industry – and how we can help you achieve your most ambitious aspirations.