Emerald Life and Engage Brandcraft1 December 2013
Engage Brandcraft recently took on a new brand positioning and design challenge for UK niche insurance provider Emerald Life.
The Brand Challenge
Emerald Life is a soon-to-be-launched category first in the UK - a niche insurance provider catering specifically to the needs of gay and lesbian (LGBT) individuals. The obvious question (and it’s one that we asked) is “why single LGBT individuals out for their own insurance offering?”. The primary reasons are that uptake of life insurance in particular has been historically low among this otherwise typically high earning segment, and that many insurers do not have an understanding of (or products for) the various risk profiles, lifestyles and home structures that exist within this segment. Linked to this is the incidence of prejudice that many individuals within this market segment have experienced when trying to find out about the policy options available to them or claiming against those policies… and the odd awkward conversation.
The business required a well-crafted brand that would send the right signals and could garner respect and loyalty from a fairly heterogeneous ‘niche’ segment over time. The crafting of the Emerald Life brand presented some interesting challenges for the Engage Brandcraft team. For one thing, as Emerald Life is a UK based brand, Engage had to be especially sensitive to the nature and needs of a very specific target audience, thousands of miles away. To get around this, we did lots of online research and rattled our international social networks for insights and added understanding.
On a more practical level, working with a company almost 10 000 kilometres away can pose some logistical issues, so a solid communication process was vital with a clear journey mapped out from day one. On the upside this was the fourth international branding / rebranding exercise undertaken by Engage Brandcraft this year so we were used to Skyping our way through a project (the minimal time zone difference also helps). It’s good to be one of many South African branding agencies that are getting to export their brand development skills and talent beyond our borders. A trend we hope to see a bit more of as the silver lining to our weak local currency.
The Brand Intervention
The Emerald Life brand origination process kicked off with plenty of research (with plenty more dipstick surveys gathered along the way). This fed into the clarification of the brief, business case and objectives which we worked through with the client.
Armed with on our newfound knowledge and brimming insight we moved on to a very careful (and sensitive) strategic positioning exercise, which raised more answers than questions but many of each. One critical issue was the degree to which the brand, in its communication, grouped LGBT individuals into one pluralist community vs. addressing the market as a wide and diverse group of individuals. The biggest challenge with this project though was the sensitive nature of the market and subject material. It’s not often you see a financial services product marketed to a segment defined by sexual orientation and we wanted to strike the right balance. In particular, as the product is aimed at LGBT individuals, care had to be taken to avoid the stereotypical rainbow flags and oiled body clichés so often associated with gay-focused brands. Insurance is, after all, a serious product. As well as signaling sensitivity and understanding of LGBT needs the brand also needed to talk beyond the market definition, to class-beating service and game-changing products. We have a number of touchpoints to accomplish this (website included) but, for now, the identity needed to lay the groundwork.
The design team looked to the qualities that differentiate emerald gemstones in their raw natural form for the inspiration that would eventually convey the balance between individuality and the brand’s commitment to quality and reliability. Each gemstone’s variety of facets, unique markings and occlusions that sets them apart from each other provided the perfect point of departure. The logo was designed to reflect this variance and also to allow for the future architectural expansion of the brand.
81.64% of 202 proof-of-concept survey respondents found the new identity appealing with positive comments including “gives off a trustworthy image” and “feels modern and reliable”.
If you have ten minutes to spare, please share your thoughts on the category and project with the team at Engage Brandcraft by completing this brief questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/W2DMW3C