As Director of Corporate Marketing at an Insurtech company, I too find myself in the midst of the digital transformation era. I have been a marketing director for over twenty years in multiple industries so digital transformation is something I am well familiar with. However, it seems to me as if the insurance industry, which traditionally has been perceived as a "protector" and a "safety net" reserved for responsible people only is now joining "fashionably late" the digitalization world and is making up for it by rushing into developing digital platforms and features just to keep up with the market.
As a result, marketing terms such as customer-centricity, engagement, customer experience, and customer journey to name a few, are merged into the digitization process. These terms are quickly shaped by new features, widgets, online applications, online and hybrid services, and a "You name it and our platform has it" approach. It seems as if the insurance industry is in a digital race where the best platform wins. The truth is, nothing is further from the truth. In fact, this approach where a digital platform will position the insurance organization at the forefront of the industry and therefore, must be developed with the latest features consisting of our customers' demands, is simply wrong.
Reverse Branding Process
Features come and go, applications will soon cross to the MetaVerse, new technology will emerge, a new global crisis will occur, customers will change and so will we. This is why rushing to digitize our services is only half the job. The other half, the first half, should be developing a branding strategy. Branding strategy consists of our values, our promises to our customers, our differentiation from all other players in the market, and more. These will keep us relevant for years to come. Our digital platforms should reflect our branding strategy.
Focusing on the process of digitization and through that process implementing what it is we want for our customers or technically implementing customer demands is what I would refer to as a reverse branding strategy. Since the beginning, insurance companies were positioned as non-lucrative “protectors” and were exempted from developing and nurturing a brand for themselves. For the first time, digitalization requires insurance organizations to think branding-wise.
A branding strategy should be the foundation of the organization's northern star and its digital transformation. A customer experience can only be achieved with a branding strategy. It is in this process when questions such as what is the organization's identity other than "protector" arise. What is the customer experience we want to provide our customers with? How do we differentiate our organization from all other players and make us unique? What is our brand promise? The answers to these questions must be reflected in the digital platform which is why a digital transformation should be part of a branding strategy and not vice versa.
Branding and Digitalization
The term branding has always been vague to some people, which is why connecting this term with the digital transformation process is a natural fit. So let's try and define what a brand is. A brand is a process where a user/consumer or customer identifies and singles out your company, product, or service out of all other available options. It is the process where the customer/user gives meaning to a product/company/service. What meanings do we want our users or customers to give our platform when they use it? That we're there for them? Do we understand them? Do we care about them? ..... Everybody says that.
A brand consists of several elements: emotions, visuals (logo, colour pallet), sound (jingles), physical products, and intellectual stimulation (professionals promoting a brand by doctors, supported by facts etc.). It is the combination of emotional and physical, intellectual and visual that trigger how consumers feel about our company or product.
A brand will actually "outline the how" of your brand based on precise intellectual and emotional stimulation. How do we show our users all these values in a way that is unique to us? That is different from everyone else and that is true to our identity? How do we reflect our corporate values within the platform, application, and outside the digital world, through our services, our products, our personalization, and more? How will all this be reflected in the digital process?
It's Just Water Isn't It?
Let's take a most basic product such as mineral water. The branded bottle we choose is not necessarily a random choice. Our choice is often a result of a well-thought branding strategy. It leads us to pay even more for our water simply because of how we feel about ourselves when we drink it. Here are some examples of branded water and how their branding strategy affects how we feel about ourselves when we drink it:
- Evian often makes us feel young, active, and adventurous (their slogan is "Live Young").
- Perrier – Sophisticated and financially stable (their slogan is " Champagne of Table Water").
- Schweppes –Different, out of the box, unique (their slogan is "Drink Differently").
Each of these water brands will develop its corporate values. Even if they do have common values, each will implement their values differently, based on their above corporate identity: young, sophisticated, established, and different.
It's no coincidence that each mineral water created a unique identity with its own personality, values, vibes, social status, and market segments. Choosing a certain water brand over another may reveal something about us, and who we are. Who do we strive to be? All this over water.
Yes. Because water is a basic commodity and a good branding strategy will create a preference that is beyond the product itself.
Imagine what a good branding strategy can do for an insurance organization. Imagine how a good branding strategy can affect the digitization process.
Let's Reverse Back to Basics
Yes, digitalization is a must. Even when we're "fashionably late" for the process. However, if we're going to invest so many resources in our digital platform, we might as well make it last by starting with a branding strategy. If an organization is an established one, a digitalization process is a great opportunity to revise the current brand, perhaps update it, and breathe new life into it. For smaller or boutique organizations, starting with a branding strategy is essential for developing a platform that provides true added value and preference for our customers to choose our services over all other available options.
Written by Tally Porat Kaplan, Director of Corporate Marketing at Sapiens