Building a Better Brand Story for IBA
When a small, independent insurance agency named IBA approached us to help with their branding, we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy project.
The problems they were facing with their brand were the same ones that plagued the entire insurance industry.
First off, no one likes buying insurance. Insurance and risk are not fun, exciting topics. When you buy insurance, you’re spending money on something you hopefully will never need.
Second, not a lot of people understand the ins and outs of the policies they are buying. They are more motivated by saving money. The “15 minutes could save you 15%” mentality has positioned savings, not value or coverage, as the measurement for buying insurance.
And lastly, it’s hard to tell insurance companies apart. Similar products, similar sales experiences, similar looking branding. It’s all very much the same.
So how could we use branding to not only make IBA look great in front of their customers, but more importantly, not seem like every other insurance agency out there?
To quote Marty Neumeier, “When everybody zigs – zag.”
The answer was to tell a better brand story.
Building the brand story.
IBA engaged us for our Branding Program, a framework we use for conducting brand research, competitive analysis and brand strategy – along with the language and visual identity that support it.
We began by conducting one-on-one interviews with members of the IBA team, uncovering both strengths and pain points that the team has experienced over the years.
This key point, which came up again and again in our stakeholder interviews, became the foundation for the brand’s position.
We used this difference in approach and attitude to establish IBA as a challenger brand in its category. It goes back to one of my favorite ideas in branding:
“David was nothing without Goliath.”
David vs. Goliath
Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath, the young boy, armed only with a rock and a slingshot, facing off against Goliath, the well-armed giant backed by an army. Spoiler alert – David wins. David flings a blessed rock in the air, hitting Goliath in the head and killing him in one lucky blow.
David was just a boy. Goliath was a giant with an army. People root for David, and loathe Goliath. David represents all the good in the world, Goliath represents all that’s bad.
But the only reason people remember David is because he challenged a giant. If the story was about two giants it would be less interesting.
What we remember is how a small underdog found the courage to fight a seemingly impossible opponent. This is the stuff of great stories – and great story brands.
With IBA, we wanted to use the small size of the agency to position them as a challenger brand in a market filled with evil giants. That would give us something to throw rocks at.
Finding and creating those rocks was our next challenge.
Crafting positioning language for a challenger brand.
The truth is, no one cares about IBA. Or insurance agencies. Or most brands in general. Or even Atomicdust. They only care about themselves.
They care about their business, their problems, their families.
The best thing a brand can do to win the hearts of customers is to show how the brand improves their lives – to show how it serves them, and helps them get where they want to go.
When creating language for the brand, we took the acronym IBA (Independent Brokers Agency), and turned it into a rallying cry that the culture and customers can get behind.
As we kicked off what would become hours of discussing IBA’s brand language, we asked ourselves, “In this context, what does independence mean for IBA’s customer?”
The highest value was that IBA offered customers independence from the traditional, commodity-driven sales experience that has plagued the industry and has given insurance brokers a bad reputation.
Let’s see how this translates to positioning language for the brand. The first piece is the brand narrative – a story about the brand and why it exists – all leading up to their bold, challenging tagline.
A new logo and visual identity.
What does a brand that encourages independence look like? How do we build an identity that’s modern and trustworthy and can stand out in a sea of giants?
We represented independence as going in the opposite direction of everyone else. Arrows pointing one way represent the industry, and the single arrow moving in the opposite direction represent the freedom and perspective that IBA provides.
It’s also a great way to speak to IBA’s clients, who see great benefit in this ability, to repeat a phrase, to zig while others zag, when it comes to buying something like insurance.
Using the arrows metaphor as the driving concept, we created a simple visual device that becomes memorable, repeatable, and most importantly for IBA’s goals – ownable.
The independent arrow serves as a reminder of IBA’s unique outlook on the industry.
Showing Independence on the web.
IBA’s website serves two main purposes – and these really apply to websites for any professional services firm. The first is to legitimize the company for people who may be considering hiring IBA as their insurance broker. The second is to drive sales leads.
We created a new website built around customers first. This helps it achieve both goals, proving the company’s value through dynamic content and providing strong calls to action that help people get in touch with the IBA team.
We also developed an SEO strategy for the website, optimizing each page to perform on search engines, while still being written in friendly marketing language.
When everybody zigs – zag.
The power of branding and design is that it can create a unified story that creates differentiation for businesses. It feels great to be able to listen to our clients, share our philosophy and apply ideas that make an impact on a business.
IBA is a great organization (and group of people) and we were happy to help them move their business forward.