November 22, 2017 by David Gambrill, Editor-in-Chief
State Farm’s brand name in Canada will transform to Desjardins Insurance over an 18-month phased transition period starting in May 2018 and concluding by late 2019, Desjardins executives told Canadian Underwriter Wednesday.
The re-brand will put the Desjardins Insurance name on close to 500 former State Farm offices across Canada. Desjardins currently serves more than seven million members and clients across Canada, with the support of close to 48,000 employees and some 4,500 elected officers.
“This is a big thing for us,” says Guy Cormier, chair of the board, president and CEO of Desjardins Group. “It’s not only about changing a name brand. For us, it’s to have the support of 500 offices across Canada with the [Desjardins] logo, for one thing. But also, it will bring to more than 1 million clients the opportunity to provide more financial services for them.
“It could be life insurance. It could be credit cards. It could be health insurance. It could be a car loan. There are other kinds of products and financial services that can be offered, products that we manufacture, including P&C insurance products and life insurance products.”
Strategically, the move was good for Desjardins because State Farm also has a presence in the life insurance side, says Denis Dubois, executive vice president of Desjardins’ property and casualty (P&C) insurance executive division. “One [State Farm] client in four has a life insurance product,” Dubois noted, and so the “transaction is significant” to Desjardins from that perspective as well.
Desjardins plans to phase out the State Farm brand name gradually over 18 months, in four distinct phases. The brand name change will be wholesale, affecting the website, digital properties, papers, signage, right down to replacing the State Farm logos appearing in the glass of office windows.
“It’s everything,” Dubois says of the changes. “Systems, digital, physical. This is why it is going to be done over a certain period of time. One reason is to maximize the association between the two brands, to transfer the equity, but the second part is from the personal perspective. Many things need to be changed, and that’s why we’re talking about 18 months to go through that exercise.”
The transition period will begin on May 1, 2018. Phase 1 will be to make State Farm staff and exclusive agents aware of the Desjardins Insurance brand name and the products associated with it, while Phase 2 will allow agents to communicate the changes to clients in their local communities.
Phase three, planned for the fall of 2018, will make the branding change widely known. During this time, the State Farm and Desjardins brands will co-exist, appearing side by side. During Phase four, the Desjardins brand will start to appear on its own by the end of 2019.
“The Desjardins brand is already quite well known, especially in Ontario and Alberta, so for us, it is quite strategic to promote the Desjardins brand outside Quebec,” says Cormier.