Wednesday, February 27

Nationwide Members

I love looking to the insurance category for good marketing, but not for the reasons you'd expect.  It's not like the "products" are all that inspiring or that the programming is all that breakthrough.  That's not the reason why I respect the industry so much.

The insurance industry shows classic good marketing.  And I have learned a lot by watching it, I use it a lot in my classes when talking about tough marketing principles like positioning, brand character, and messaging development.

The insurance industry is also a near-perfect example of how good marketing balances the rational side with the emotional side of the product and of the brand.
The rational side:  on the surface, and perhaps even in the details, all insurance feels relatively the same.  The features are not that different from company to company, or so it seems.  The products are not really all that differentiated.  This is quite true of many categories when you think about it.  The rational, functional attributes tend to be similar if not exactly the same from brand to brand in many categories.
The emotional side:  every major brand in this industry has some sort of a unique space carved out, and it speaks in a different manner to its consumers.  I even profiled it in my second book, to give positioning advice to small businesses.  The industry is just that good.  While virtually every brand talks about great customer service (a very emotional topic in the insurance space), each does it with a different emotional connection.

State Farm:  like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Nationwide:  Nationwide is on your side.

The Prudential:  get a piece of the rock.

All of these brands talk about "being there" but in an different kind of emotional manner, appealing to different target audiences as a result.

The other great part about the insurance industry is that it's constantly evolving in its messaging.  I cite Nationwide here because it has been "on your side" for years.  Years.  Now suddenly, the brand takes it to a new direction, talking about how its customers are "members".  The brand says that it stands behind its "members," not its "shareholders."  Powerful, actually, and a new way of saying that the brand will "be there," putting its members first (presumably at a time of need).  It's a new, fresh way of capturing the emotional benefit of "being there" by saying that you're more important than anything/anyone else, including profits.

I kind of like it ... and feel inspired by it.  What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
Author, The Experience Effect series
Marketing Professor, NYU

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