‘Complementary’ Branding: 5 Questions with American Modern Insurance

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American Modern Insurance 2015 new branding campaign

American Modern Insurance can only help the typical US personal insurance agent with no more than 10 percent of the policies needed to serve customers. And “America’s Complementary Insurance Partner” may not seem like a very inspiring brand slogan.

But that’s the whole point: If an agent and his or her client has the kind of need that American Modern specializes in, outside the realm of the typical auto or home insurance policy, the Cincinnati-based company wants to make sure it’s the one that gets the business and its brand is top of mind for reliability, trust and expertise.

American Modern Insurance logo

So American Modern this week launched a new brand identity, and a stepped-up internal and external marketing initiative, to coincide with the company’s 50th birthday. Its refreshed brand includes an online branding guide that the insurer has sent to agents, and a new brand video (above) that explains its complementary positioning through storytelling.

“American Modern’s refreshed brand puts new emphasis on supporting our agent communities with products to serve their customers with special insurance needs,” stated Tammy Nelson, the company’s chief marketing officer.

The effort includes not only a new logo but also the implementation of a broad, long-term effort to communicate more effectively and more opportunistically with agents and with fellow insurers who can sell American Modern’s “complementary,” often unique, policies.

These policies include those covering not only boats and all-terrain vehicles, which makes American Modern sound like a B2B version of Geico, but also “manufactured” homes, houses that are rented out or vacant, and classic cars.

brandchannel talked with Nelson about how American Modern markets its atypical product line.

bc: Why are you refreshing your brand?

Tammy Nelson headshotTammy Nelson: We’re doing a lot to transform our business and prepare for the future. We have a unique offering, and we’re always innovating to meet the changing needs of our policyholders. Despite that—and the fact that we have “Modern” in our name—our brand needed a refresh. It didn’t reflect the real us. We’re looking to be America’s complementary insurer of choice, and that’s where our brand needed to be refreshed.

So we’re freshening our look and feel and, more important, focusing on strategy and sharpening our commitment to our partners, which is the key way we go to market. They’re independent and general agents, and also some of the largest insurance companies.

bc: How do you reach them?

Nelson: We don’t advertise direct to the consumer. Instead, we focus all of our marketing dollars on providing the tools and resources to our agents so they can best reach our end customers. So the new logo reflects a lot of things, but one of them is that the intertwining ribbons that make up the circle really represent our partnership with our agents to surround our customers and round out the insurance needs that they might have that fall outside the typical coverage.

American Modern new logo 2015bc: How are you communicating differently or more extensively with agents and other insurers under this new effort?

Nelson: Today we’re meeting with some of our key partners and talking more about what this means to them—the look and feel of our  new brand identity and the new ways we can support them going forward. We plan to reach out more in communications to our partners.

bc: What kinds of specific messaging or tactics are you going to use?

Nelson: We’ll be focused on educating them and providing them with the tools and resources to confidently recommend the best products for their customers. We’ll have webinars, infographics, blogs, direct mail and e-mail, social campaigns. We just recently found out that our most successful approach with our partners really is webinars. They’re hungry for knowledge about the features and benefits of our products and when they might be useful.

bc: Some of your “complementary” products, such as boat and snowmobile insurance, remind me of Geico’s recent commercials about providing those kinds of atypical vehicular policies. Is Geico a big competitor?

Nelson: We actually partner with a lot of insurance companies that have some of these product offerings, and our approach in some cases is to stay out of their space and complement what they have. So many of the companies that you  might consider our competitors are that, in some sense, but they’re also partners in many ways. But I can’t comment on who all of our partners are.


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