I just returned from Brand Camp 2015. I love this conference- the content is amazing and gives me a chance to meet so many of the people I associate with online. It also allows open discussion between peers- topics include social media, marketing, customer service, metrics, sales, and of course, branding. I always walk away with lots of great ideas and actionable steps. My biggest takeaway this year unexpectedly surprised me however………
My biggest takeaway- That insurance agents are still struggling to humanize their brand
Here’s what I mean by that- to humanize your brand is to bring it to life. To give it meaning. To create an emotional connection.
But insurance agents (and a slice of the industry in general) have yet to connect what we do with the meaning behind what we do. And make no mistake- these are very different concepts. What we do is transactional, the grind if you will. The meaning behind what we do is emotional. It’s within you. At the risk of getting touchy-feely, it comes from your heart and touches the heart of your audience. It’s the humanity.
To humanize your brand is to shift from transactional thinking to emotional thinking. And for insurance, THAT shift is VERY difficult
Our industry is steeped in transaction. From quoting to policy processing to how the garbage cans are emptied (I swear), we’ve been brainwashed to be little cogs in the industry machine happily making our widgets and telling everyone that we sell widgets and they should buy our widgets. But here’s the thing: your prospect already knows you sell widgets (can we say Google Search?). Your customer certainly knows you sell widgets. What they DON’T know is why they should give a damn about your widgets. Or even taking it further, what a difference your widgets will make in their lives. See the difference?
Here’s an example that should help you see the difference between transactional and emotional thinking
Take a tube of toothpaste. A hypothetical ad says “If you buy XYZ toothpaste, you’ll have clean teeth.” Another ad says, “If you buy XYZ toothpaste, your friends will want to be around you because you’ll have the freshest breath around.” After reading the first ad, my response would probably be “that’s good, but isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?” But the second ad- that feeds into basic psychology and wanting to be part of a group. I’m guessing the target audience for the second ad would be teenagers. Remember how important it was to belong when you were a teenager? And when you didn’t belong, how much it physically hurt? I sure remember, and I’m 41 now. That feeling never goes away. It hits you right in the gut. THAT’S how a brand should feel. It’s a gut check.
Here’s examples I came up with from the insurance industry
- Don’t say “Loan/lease gap will save you money if your car is totaled in an accident.” Instead, relate the story of a client (anonymously if necessary) who bought a car, financed it and bought the loan/lease coverage and then two weeks later, totaled it. Say that without this coverage he would be stuck paying for a car he no longer has until the loan is paid off (which is probably YEARS). You think that might cause an emotional reaction?
- Don’t say “Water Backup of Sewers, Drains, & Sump Pumps provides coverage if your sewer, drain or sump pump backs up” (BARF-A-RONI). Instead show pictures of a water backup claim (Before) and when the damage has been repaired (After). The caption? “This endorsement provides you the money to go from Before to After.”
- No one understands business income or extra expense coverage (including a lot of agents). But what ANYONE can understand are three pictures side by side- the first shows the aftermath of a claim- fire, wind, water, whatever. The middle picture shows a CLOSED TEMPORARILY sign. The final picture shows the building back open for business. The caption could read “Business Income insurance pays your ongoing bills so you can re-open.”
The time to humanize your brand is now. It’s time for a gut check, for both you and your audience. Because when people connect the dots between what we do and the meaning behind what we do, you’ve achieved brand nirvana. That’s the goal for my agency. And it should be for yours too.