The process of building a brand involves a range of different challenges and considerations that all depend on the sector in which your business operates. While all brands must serve as the emotional core and face of a business — consumers’ divergent relationships with, and perceptions of, differing industries mean that there will always be certain functions that some brands must prioritize in one sector, that might be less important in another.
So, for those faced with the task of building, nurturing, or growing a brand within the insurance sector — what are the key challenges of building an insurance brand? And what functions must a brand in this industry prioritize?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the key obstacles that might stand in the way of your insurance business as you develop your brand and take a look at some of the considerations you should make when designing the different aspects of your brand and its relationship with your customers and target audience.
So without further ado.
The Basics: What All Brands Should Achieve
To make sure that we don’t leave any stone unturned, let’s first cover the basics of what the universal functions of any brand should be, regardless of the industry. As already mentioned, your brand should function as the emotional core of your business, dictating how it is perceived by both potential and existing customers — and providing some kind of identity with which you can interact with large groups of consumers.
You’ll already be aware of some vital requirements to achieve these goals, such as a logo and accompanying visual identity, a tone of voice for your content across both marketing collateral and other customer-facing material, and a series of values that underpin everything your business does, both internally and externally.
This last function is important even if it is often overlooked. Indeed, it is imperative that you remember your brand represents everything your business does — it’s much more than just your logo and marketing campaigns. Remember that consumers perceive a business based on all of their interactions with it, regardless of whether it's an ad they saw on TV, a call with a sales representative, or a visit to a website. By having clear values that run right through your business, you can build a consistent brand that helps shape positive perceptions.
So, when it comes to the insurance industry, what challenges arise when building and growing a brand, and which brand functions must be prioritized?
Let’s find out.
Why Insurance Brands Must Build Trust
It should go without saying that insurance is an industry that is built firmly on trust. While most will take out insurance policies hoping they never need to make a claim, for those consumers beset by misfortune, that policy could be the difference between two very different outcomes — one that allows them to overcome a life-changing event and one that leaves them devastated.
Despite playing such a crucial role, a survey in 2019 found that less than 30% of consumers from across the globe had a positive opinion of the insurance industry. 53% reported having had “a negative experience with their cover – most blaming claims settlement and product complexity for the hassle.” It’s no surprise then that so many brands play off this negative sentiment, like car insurance brand Cuvva, which imagines “What if car insurance wasn’t S**t?”
A number of scandals over the last decade or so, including the 2008 financial crisis, have eroded consumers’ trust in all brands that operate within the financial sector, including insurance. While the industry has done a good job at winning back the hearts and minds of some consumers, there’s still work to be done.
Indeed, nearly “80% of consumers say they trust their insurance providers”, however that trust differs greatly depending on age, with those over 65 likely to trust their providers by 16 percentage points more than those under the age of 25. On top of this, “younger customers are nearly twice as likely to say they plan on switching companies within the next three years.”
So, in order to foster strong relationships with consumers, win over new customers, and build loyalty, insurance brands that want to grow must be perceived as trustworthy — and they’ll really need to work their brand to overcome this hurdle.
To combat this, a key function of brands within this industry must be to build bridges with consumers and regain trust. But how exactly can this be done?
How Insurance Brands Can Build Trust
Insurance brands can’t wait for life-changing moments in order to prove themselves, one by one, to consumers. Instead, they must bring their brand to bear on smaller, everyday interactions and use these to demonstrate competency and create positive customer experiences that will then build trust with consumers.
Research shows that there are three key pillars to building trust — competency, benevolence, and honesty. In the insurance sector, these three core values should run through every part of your brand identity and be considered in everything your business does.
On an operational level, you can build trust by ensuring that your customer journey is streamlined and simple, that onboarding is easy to understand, and by making sure that customers are provided with relevant tools to stay on top of their policies. Once established, these can then be worked into your branding campaigns and make up a core part of your brand proposition.
Being transparent with consumers can also be an important step towards this goal. Brands can achieve it by ensuring that consumers have content on how their business operates and how their insurance policies work.
It might also be helpful if you make sure you don’t have any hidden terms and conditions and provide consumers with all the tools they need to understand how their relationship with your brand will work.
But remember — trust can’t just be bought by running an ad that says “trust us.” Instead, brands should build a “Trust Agenda” — “a corporate codification of behaviors reflecting how the business will focus and lead on responsibility, credibility and integrity.” This is why it is important to make sure those trust-building values are instilled in everything your business does first, before making them a cornerstone of your campaign messages.
Why Insurance Brands Need To Make An Emotional Connection
Insurance is an extremely valuable and important industry, offering consumers a lifeline during times of need. But it’s not a topic that people get excited to talk about.
While it might be an essential consideration, consumers don’t think about insurance the way they do about sectors that are simply more inherently exciting — like technology, travel, entertainment, or even essentials like clothing and transportation.
Because of this, insurance brands can’t expect consumers to be automatically excited about their branding campaigns. Indeed, many insurance brands these days make a key selling point out of how little consumers need to think about them and their offering. Take this AXA insurance ad, for example.
With so many consumers content to “set and forget” when it comes to their insurance coverage, brands need to get inventive in order to influence purchase decisions and convert new customers.
In order to ensure that your message breaks through the noise and gets noticed, one sure-fire method is to appeal to consumers’ emotions.
An emotional brand allows it to become more than the sum of its parts. Think about the emotional weight of your brand’s core values or the things that your services enable your customers to achieve — these are more likely to stick in consumers’ minds and help grow awareness and preference for your brand.
How Insurance Brands Can Build More Emotional Connections With Consumers
A great example of an insurance brand that uses an emotional tone in its branding campaigns is New York-based health insurer Oscar Health. Indeed, while its message is focused on how it’s committed to doing health insurance differently, this is accomplished mainly by appealing to consumers’ emotions.
Josh Kushner, a co-founder of Oscar Health, clarified that “We created a brand personality that’s friendly, human, approachable and focused on the individual… We keep our member experiences clean, simple and easy to navigate.”
Allianz is another brand that leads with emotion and focuses not on what its services do, but on everything it empowers consumers to achieve, comparing the world of insurance to learning to swim.
The brand’s 2022 campaign “prepared for life” explains that “once you’re prepared to survive water, you’re also ready to take full advantage of it.” Against a Reel of the myriad ways that people can enjoy “the adventure of life” through swimming, sailing, and diving, it ends with the line “Can you imagine if we learnt to swim, only to avoid drowning?”
So rather than getting into the reeds as to why they’re different from most other insurers, Oscar Health’s and Allianz’s branding campaigns focus on the customer, zooming on their frustrations and ambitions to create a memorable brand proposition.
Why Heavy Competition Means Your Brand Must Work Harder
One key challenge for any insurance brand looking to grow its profile is just how competitive the industry is. This, combined with consumers’ general low interest in the industry, means that your brand has precious little time to connect with audiences and convert them. Furthermore, whenever a consumer is on the market for insurance, you must overcome the pitches and campaigns of countless other brands looking to convert them.
This means that having a strong, recognizable brand is a vital asset for insurance companies. If you’re able to nail a strong visual identity, memorable proposition, and connect with consumers on an emotional level, you’re more likely to be remembered when it comes to those vital windows of opportunities when consumers are looking to switch policy or purchase coverage for the first time.
What Your Insurance Brand Can Do To Stand Out From The Crowd
All of the points that we’ve already covered are applicable here — so, having a transparent and trustworthy brand identity, leading with emotion, and having an eye-catching brand character are all strong strategies for gaining an edge over your competitors.
But there’s one final tool that you can use in order to make sure everything your brand does resonates with your target audience — and that’s brand tracking.
Brand tracking allows you to measure the performance of your brand with consumers, seeing whether they can recognize your brand, understand which industry you operate in, and whether they have a preference for you over the competition. By tracking perceptions over time, you can see which messages are breaking through with your target audience the most effectively — and optimize in much the same way that you can iterate and improve performance marketing campaigns.
While creating an insurance brand presents a lot of challenges, the limitations presented by consumers and their perceptions of the industry also give a pretty clear direction of what functions you should prioritize when building your insurance brand.
As a topic that consumers don’t want to think about, you’ll be rewarded for promoting simplicity and straightforwardness. If you can do this while also demonstrating that your brand is one that consumers can trust, then you’re setting your brand up with everything it needs to grow.
It’s vital to remember that the best way to deliver these messages is by appealing to consumers’ emotions — focus on their frustrations and pain points, their goals and ambitions, and work your proposition around those emotional touchpoints. Do all that, and you’re likely to see positive progress on your brand awareness and understanding.