Keeping the flame alive

July 2, 2012

If you brand insurance for a living, you get to see insurance companies from the inside out. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

If you brand insurance for a living, you get to see insurance companies from the inside out. Sometimes it isn’t pretty. Underwriters fight with sales people. Technology can’t keep up with the demand for innovative online tools. Product development folk don’t see the value in marketing.

Creating a unique brand proposition for an insurance company — particularly in the highly commoditized battleground of property & casualty insurance — isn’t easy. Products look a lot alike. Regional insurers must constantly set themselves apart from national carriers without the budget to do so. Specialty insurers often don’t have the visibility to trumpet their differences from mass market players.

So with all this inside baseball knowledge about insurance companies, it was interesting to find myself on the outside looking in the other day when I had to untangle a car insurance policy in one state to be able to register the car in another. After all, transactional brands like those of insurance companies are often defined by how their employees live their brands through their actions.

Forget about the Byzantine rules and forms from Departments of Motor Vehicles. That’s another story entirely. But after literally three attempts to de-register and re-register the car, I found myself reaching out to the insurance office in the state where the vehicle was leaving. Desperate for help, I called the local agent and explained my situation. In fact, I was leaving her state to go to another, taking money out of her policy pocket and putting it into another one, albeit the same corporation. But rather than shuffle me off, the agent not only understood my conundrum, but actually asked me to wait on hold for a moment, while she dialed the out of state (for me) Registry of Motor Vehicles. When she came back on the line, not only did she supply me with the magic i.d. number I needed to de-register my car online, but she waited while I plugged in the number on the web site to make sure it would go through.

In short, she took responsibility for helping a customer — even one who was transferring a policy to another office. She took responsibility. That’s the policy of her company’s brand and tagline. And it’s one she lived to the fullest while simply doing her job.

It’s what makes my job branding insurance companies truly fulfilling.

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