Canadian Underwriter

Thanks for the memory: ensure customers recall your brokerage

September 13, 2021   by Brooke Smith

colored doors in a room representing the concept of choice

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There are the characters: Geico’s gecko. Progressive’s Flo. There are the jingles: Nationwide is on your side. We are Farmers…

These marketing tactics immediately evoke the company — and insurance. But if you’re representing many insurance companies, how do you advertise?

“When it comes to broker advertising,” said Rob Schlyecher, creative director of Vancouver-based Spring Advertising, “you have to make a decision whether you want to be memorable or you want to have a promotional feature.”

Since many brokerages don’t offer a free set of steak knives for signing up, you’re best to opt for memorable.

After all, few people volunteer to buy insurance, he said. “In most cases, it’s something you have to buy. So a broker’s success is based on how many consumers can remember them and how quickly they can do it.”

While some brokerages may choose to specialize and differentiate themselves from other brokerages, Schlyecher said maybe 1% of consumers really need that specialization. “The other 99% really need car insurance,” he said.

“If you’re selling insurance that your consumer views as a low-commitment purchase, then their attitude and emotions regarding your brand are most important,” he said.

Brokerages need a “clean and coherent brand identity,” Schlyecher said, “so it’s easy for people to trigger a memory in their head when they see you.” That could be a jingle: Liberty Liberty Liberty…Liberty.

In fact, according to a 2019 study, 99% of participants agreed with the following statement: “A jingle that can be memorized easily helps consumers retain the product or brand more.”

Mascots like British-accented geckos or armour-clad knights have also proven popular. Closer to home, there’s the red bird of Cheep Insurance: Cheep Charlie.

“We didn’t want to put ‘cheap’ in the actual brand,” said Jennifer Jackson, director of business development with Cheep Insurance, a fully digital brokerage in Dartmouth, N.S. “We made a play on words and added in the little bird to make it a little cheeky.”

The brokerage decided on its name after researching how people search for insurance on Google. A number of top searches for car insurance in the province had the word cheap in them, Jackson said.

And, according to Schlyecher, even the name of the company is key: it has to be easy and fun to say. “It feels good to say Nationwide,” he said.

But whether you choose a character or a jingle — or neither — Schlyecher offers these three advertising tips.

First, know and listen to your consumer. “Everybody runs around falling in love with their own product, completely overlooking the fact that consumers are indifferent,” he said.

Second, stick with it. “Don’t get bored with your brand, just keep banging away with it.”

And third, don’t bore your consumer. “Advertising is an interruption,” Schlyecher said. “Nobody volunteers to watch ads — unless they’re the Super Bowl ads,” which they watch because they’re “interesting, entertaining and fresh.”

“I can’t think of a single broker I’ve ever run across that did any of those things in their advertising,” he said.

“Any broker is far better off doing something people will talk about and getting a few complaints than doing something nobody cares about.”

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