Doc Searles, a well-regarded sage of the digital realm, recently posted an interesting analysis of the death of “branding” as we know it; lessons that could help the insurance industry as it moves headlong into the digital age.
Branding, of course, has been a bedrock strategy for the industry for decades, from Prudential's Rock of Gibraltar to GEICO's chirpy little gecko. Would you have thought a little lizard with a British accent (or is it Australian?) could be employed so well to convince people to buy car insurance? But I digress.
Searles says branding—at least as we've come to know it—is a dinosaur (much larger than a gecko, incidentally). “Brands are boring, brands are bull,” he says.
So, then, what is more relevant than branding to reach markets with a message? A well-earned reputation, Searles says. And a good reputation will prevail over bad branding than the reverse, he points out. Consider Toyota's pedal travails—they're staying in the game thanks to their still-stellar reputation for good cars, despite their lousy branding over the years.
With the rise of the Internet and social networking, the consumer is calling the shots, and a company needs to show that it is responsive and socially responsible. Searles points out that the Internet favors reality over bull, and branding needs to take a back seat.
To advance in the 20-teens, insurance companies need to get out and engage with customers through these new channels. They can no longer afford to sit back and rely on the power of their branding.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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