When you see the words, “Coca Cola,” they mean something. Yes, it’s the name of a soda brand, but those two words also have an emotional impact. You might remember the 1971 commercial with the song, “I’d Like to Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” (you know you want to sing along!), or the 2013 Polar Bear commercial. Or, you might think about good times with friends or family. That’s a positive impact.
And a positive impact is what you want to make with the branding you choose for your independent insurance agency. It doesn’t matter what type of policies you sell – life insurance, auto insurance or homeowners insurance or something else – branding is an essential part of your marketing strategy.
You want your agency to be immediately recognizable to prospects and clients alike, whether it’s digital marketing using social media, blogs, videos, and email, or print like a newspaper ad, a letter, or a piece of direct mail. Developing and consistent use of brand guidelines may not get you worldwide recognition, but it can help increase sales.
So just how do you create branding for your insurance agency?
The Elements of Brand Guidelines
Entrepreneur Magazine defines branding as “your promise to your customer,” which tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and how you’re different from your competitors. Branding is aspirational: You want to present the best you are now and who you want to be, all the while keeping in mind how the public will perceive you.
Look at the websites of brands you admire to see how they handle their branding.
So what do brand guidelines include?
Coming up with a name can be the first thing or the last or somewhere in between when it comes to branding. It may be you have a name in mind, but once you define your core values and mission, it might change. If you have been in business for some time and have an agency name, keep that in mind when developing the following:
- An overview of your agency’s history, vision and core values. This would be something like you see on the OAA website “Our Story” page.
- A mission statement that includes the tone of voice to be used for all communication.
Your insurance agency’s tone of voice represents your brand personality and values, including the words you choose and the order you put them. This applies to all content, whether it’s on the web or print.
Your tone may change depending on who you’re talking to. For example, you might want to be more formal with a prospect than a current customer. If you’re successful in defining and implementing your tone of voice, your brand will be recognized by text alone, even if they don’t see your logo or company’s name attached. Customers say this builds connection (65%), trust (64%) and increases your agency’s revenue (23%).
- Logo usage – this includes how your logo appears in different situations, including size, color, spacing and what can and can’t be done with the logo. For an example, see the brand standards for the United States Postal Service.
- Fonts – these are the fonts and styles within those fonts for use online and in print.
- Color Palette – these are the colors that you’ll use for virtually everything – your logo, fonts, any blocks or bars of color, etc. You’ll want guidelines for print, web and video.
- Business card and letterhead design – if you use any of these items in your business, you’ll want them consistent with the rest of your brand.
- Image style – this is really important when it comes to evoking emotion. What works with your brand? What doesn’t?
And then there are things like button design for web pages, icons, and everything else that appears on anything you distribute. We can’t tell you everything in this space, so here are more tips on creating your brand.
What Good Branding Will Do For You and Your Agency
The importance of carefully thought-out branding can’t be overemphasized, so take your time. Hire experts like writers and graphic designers who don’t have a cookie-cutter approach to insurance marketing – you don’t want to look like anyone else.
So, what will all this time and effort do for your insurance agency?
- Consistent Recognition and Brand Recall – Each time someone visits your website, there’s your logo and your tagline or slogan. Seeing this over and over again, used the same way page after page, helps build recall.
- Builds Confidence & Connection – Whether it’s online on your website, a Facebook ad or a sponsored post on Instagram, seeing your logo and tagline, as well as your brand colors over and over makes your customer feel more confident. It makes your brand recognizable. It evokes the emotion of comfort and adds connection.
- Comfort & Connection Translates to the “Buy In.” People don’t really want to be sold things. They need that emotional connection, those warm fuzzies. In 2018, Adweek published an article that stated that 70% of users who feel a connection to a brand spend twice as much as those who don't.
- Branding Differentiates You From the Competition. In today’s competitive market, you need an edge. The stronger and more consistent your branding, the more likely potential customers will recognize and respond. Look at the Google logo, When you see those four colors, you know exactly which company you’re dealing with. Google’s carefully created brand guidelines outline which are the ‘Google’ colors. Which colors will be yours?
- Branding is Useful for Employees. Your marketing department is sending out press releases, developing ads and all kinds of materials. It’s important that they use your branding correctly. Even if you don’t have a marketing department, you don’t want your sellers to be sending out things that don’t agree with your tone, your mission and your general brand guidelines.
So, to build awareness, connection and loyalty, as well as increase agency revenue, develop and then stick to your brand standards.