Agency life is busy, and there often isn’t time to step back and evaluate your overall brand. But if you think your branding doesn’t directly impact your success, you’re wrong.
Branding is the first thing prospective customers see. It provides the first clues about who you are. More importantly, it tells people what you’re capable of doing for them – or it should. Observers form initial impressions around the way they perceive your agency’s brand – and everyone knows that you get just one chance to make a first impression.
Insurance is a flooded market – in 2016, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that there were almost 6,000 insurance agencies across America. This makes it difficult for your agency to stand out. When branding your agency, you need to keep two key goals in mind: being unique and disruptive in a busy marketplace, and being memorable to your target audience.
Effective branding has to start from within. It isn’t just about your agency’s name and tagline or what typeface you use on advertisements. It’s about your people. Your agents each bring unique talents and perspectives to the table, which is wonderful and important. When it comes to representing your brand, however, it’s essential that everyone be on the same page. This creates a strong and consistent presence.
All who reach out to your agency should leave with the same impression. They should feel the company culture and be immersed in it. This can only occur if all agency employees have a firm understanding of your mission, goals and point of difference. Truly, they need to have more than an understanding – they need a complete buy-in, agreement with and passion for all that your agency represents. This is what will fuel success and grow your book of business.
It’s true that something as simple as your logo’s color can boost overall brand recognition by 80%. Imagine incorporating that power of perception into the agency culture your employees represent. Your brand and the way you each live it should be as carefully and strategically considered as the accounts you choose to underwrite.
Your employees – from those just starting out to senior managers – are your brand builders. They represent the values, ethics, commitments and qualities of your agency. They establish credibility and help to build and foster important relationships. They determine the quality of customer service that you’re able to provide.
According to Salesforce, 80% of consumers named the authenticity of a brand as their largest influencer. This is a powerful starting point to consider. Are your agents focused on being authentic? In every space where they interact with prospects – whether on social media, over the phone or in person – they should be.
Consider your future customer base, too: millennials. The way that brands represent themselves online almost completely drives the loyalty of this group. They also care more about giving back to their communities than previous generations. Does your agency have a strong online presence? What does it say about you? Are your agents active on social media? Do they volunteer? Does your organization sponsor any local events? These are all important things to consider.
In your quest to gain a larger customer base, it’s important to avoid neglecting your most important stakeholders: the agents themselves. You likely spend a majority of your time educating consumers on your product offerings and your agency’s brand – but this education needs to be conducted equally from the inside. Only employees who are encouraged, engaged and well informed can contribute their very best. For this reason, your agency’s external and internal brand initiatives are deeply connected and dependent upon each other.
Your agency has a purpose and exists for a reason. Communicating that internally and building company culture from the inside out will help your agents become your strongest brand ambassadors. Essentially, these important individuals keep your brand alive. Empowering them to best represent it will drive your reputation – and ultimately your bottom line.
Lindsey Elias is the content marketing manager at Glatfelter Insurance Group, where she uses specialized marketing initiatives to encourage best practices and support the success of niche insurance programs and agents.