Accelerating into the future

For more than 150 years, specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler has been inspecting and protecting the equipment that makes the world work: everything from HVAC plants to industrial machinery. Now, Tenet Partners has helped position this respected leader for a new future.

A powerful brand that earned its place

A decade ago, Hartford Steam Boiler became part of the global Munich Re portfolio. At the time, the Connecticut-based company sought to make a strong case for retaining its name and identity. Tenet Partners stepped in with research that proved the equity held by the Hartford Steam Boiler brand and its iconic locomotive symbol, winning the approval of Munich Re leadership. The result was a dual brand approach—something previously unheard of for the parent company—that kept Hartford Steam Boiler at top of mind alongside Munich Re.

The key challenge: striking a balance between past and future

Times change, however, and so has Hartford Steam Boiler. In the years since the Munich Re acquisition the company has been hard at work, diversifying its offerings and investing heavily in areas such as cyber, the Internet of Things and data science. It’s also been modernizing its systems to better deliver on its reputation as a customer-focused strategic partner.

Hartford Steam Boiler had outgrown the literal meaning of its name. It was time for a new identity that would better represent what the company had become, without losing the ties to its long and proud history. The move was prompted in part by a new Munich Re portfolio strategy that recognizes the value of discrete, autonomous brands for companies that have high recognition and brand equity.

An ambitious global brand transformation project was undertaken in collaboration with Tenet Partners. The centerpiece was a new name—HSB—along with a logo and design system that successfully connected the past with the future. The Tenet design team struck a delicate balance that shows the company is still the same trusted partner its clients rely on while pointing to its ongoing innovation and increasing embrace of technology.

The logo incorporates a simplified, modernized version of the beloved locomotive symbol, keeping the identity rooted in HSB’s heritage. The streaming lines coming off of it suggest data and technology as well as speed, acceleration and an organization in transition. This is a clear indication of movement into the future while the same time serving as a subtle suggestion of the Munich Re logo.

A powerful visual system provides a platform for the brand to tell its story, employing bold use of typography, a vivid color palette and technology-infused imagery that modernizes the image of a company long associated with heavy equipment and creates meaningful distinction in the category.

Navigating the complexities of a global brand The challenge for HSB was not limited to balancing past and future. The new brand brought three companies within the Munich Re portfolio together under the global HSB banner: Hartford Steam Boiler in the United States; the Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company of Canada; and HSB Engineering Insurance in the UK and Ireland.

This was in no way a transformation to a parent company with international divisions. Each company had its own set of offerings and distinct clientele, which had to be accommodated. Tenet strategists worked closely with teams in all three markets to chart the best course. This proved especially important in Canada, where the Hartford Steam Boiler name was not well known.

It was decided to go with a transition strategy for Canada, with an interim HSB BI&I name that would be phased out over time as awareness of HSB increased. Ultimately, all three organizations would be known simply as HSB: a simpler, clearer way to go to market.

Using a collaborative workshop approach, Tenet also developed a brand story and audience messaging for the new brand, further tailored for the three regions. This created a cohesive verbal identity for the enterprise while acknowledging and accommodating the specific needs of the Canadian and UK organizations.

Building excitement for the big change

A global rebrand is no simple task. Many workstreams run in parallel and have to be coordinated. HSB and Tenet both put teams and processes in place to keep everything on track and moving, with highly effective management, clear communications and regular check-ins.

As the visual and verbal guidelines were being finalized, Tenet built an employee engagement program that helped prepare the workforce for successful launch of the new brand by educating all of HSB on brand principles and desired behaviors so everyone could start living the brand on day one, in every interaction.

The Tenet/HSB team also developed and deployed a paced internal and external communications program to build excitement around the new brand, with internal town hall presentations and employee emails, along with FAQs, discussion guides and client outreach. Signage, including a large lobby banner for HSB headquarters, was created in preparation for launch day.

“Overwhelmingly positive response”

Shortly after launch day, HSB’s Vice President of Communications, reached out to say how it went. “Response to the new HSB brand has been overwhelmingly positive, both from employees and customers. People around the company have emailed me to say how much they like and appreciate all the work that went into it. We have yet to hear even one neutral, much less negative response.”

Perhaps most telling was the feedback from an HSB audience that’s been notoriously hard to please. O’Shea said “In the parking lot last night a couple of managers from our engineering department came up to me and said how much they liked it. If there’s anyone who’s be critical, it would be someone from engineering”. So far so good!

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