There are two schools of thought concerning the best way to brand an independent insurance agency:
- Use your carriers brands as your own.
- Brand your agency based on your agency characteristics, and not those of the carriers you represent.
I will always recommend the second option. Here’s why…….
If a carrier suddenly goes in the toilet, your entire identity doesn’t go with it
Anyone ever hear of AIG? Or less catastrophic, but no less important- what if your carrier’s rates suddenly tank? If you’ve invested heavily in pushing the carrier’s brand as your own, then your customer will only ever associate you with that carrier. The list of possible situations is long, but if you stake your agency’s brand on your carrier’s brand, any ripple in that carrier brand (good or bad) will affect you too.
You get the option to specialize if you choose- and this is the future of insurance
If you want to brand your independent insurance agency as the health insurance specialists of XYZ county, you can. Or if you want to be known as the local auto garage experts, go for it. Obviously, you must have the carriers to back up these claims, but they’re merely a channel for placing business. They are NOT who you are.
And niches are the way to go in insurance. Yes, by all means, you can still offer several lines of business, but specializing in one line helps you get a leg up on your competition. My agency is known as the health insurance specialists in our area. And we get lots of referrals for this reason.
It brings you closer to your local community
Many insurance agencies are family owned and in small communities. And though I realize national brands and direct companies certainly carry tons of brand recognition (thanks to marketing budgets the size of small countries), the national brands and direct companies don’t take a vested interest in community development. They may contribute money, but most don’t contribute sweat equity, elbow grease, or whatever you choose to call it.
The majority of independent agency owners I know are heavily involved in bettering their community. Fundraisers, downtown preservation, the list is long. But there’s something to be said about rolling up your sleeves and working side by side with other members of your community. It shows you give a damn. And people remember that.
You get the chance to tell the world what you believe in and what you stand for
When your brand is the same as your carrier’s brand, then you subscribe to what they believe in and what they stand for. And isn’t that totally against the idea of independent insurance agencies? When you brand your insurance agency as its own being, you can establish the following:
- Responsibilities and promises to your customers
- How you’ll do business
- Community involvement and commitment
- Your agency’s personality and voice (this is the most critical component- it allows you to “humanize” your business).
You get the ultimate choice to scream from the rooftops who you are, what you, how what you do is better than the competition, and why people should choose you.
You get to articulate once and for all, the soul of your business. And most “souls” stem from the values and principles of the founder. So why in the world would you give that up? If you brand your insurance agency based on your carriers’ characteristics, that’s exactly what you’re doing. So don’t.
How you should brand an independent insurance agency