Bold brand shift for Mutual & Federal

In a bold move, Mutual & Federal, a member of the Old Mutual group, has refreshed its brand to reflect the evolution of the company and the insurance market.

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The rejuvenation of the brand is, in part, a response to research conducted by Mutual & Federal into the general public's perceptions of the company's corporate identity. "Our research revealed that the Mutual & Federal brand was well- established and entrenched, which is essential in an industry where trust and integrity are key," says Vuyo Lee, Executive: Brand, Customer and Transformation of Mutual & Federal. "However, we also learnt that our brand seemed to lack relevance for the younger market and it was seen as being rather old-fashioned and out-of-date."

With the insurance landscape undergoing dramatic changes in the last few years, from the implementation of new laws to a growing emerging market of young middle-income earners, Mutual & Federal embarked on a three-year strategic plan in November last year to ensure it maintained its relevance in the market. A key element of this strategy included positioning the brand to retain its relevance for its existing client base while at the same time attracting new customer markets. After an intense pitching process, Volcano Advertising was selected as the agency to assist in refreshing the Mutual & Federal brand to effectively communicate the positive changes made by the organisation.

"The brief from Mutual & Federal was very clear," reveals Paul Jackson, Managing Director at Volcano. "As a company in the financial sector, they wanted a brand that would communicate their heritage and stature in the industry but would also have a more contemporary look and feel without being too overly designed or funky."

The research that Mutual & Federal conducted provided a good starting point for the development of the campaign. "It was evident that Mutual & Federal already had elements of their brand that had substantial equity in their markets, so it was important for us to leverage what was working well for the brand and discard what wasn't, rather than inventing any new brand devices," explains Jackson.

The element of the Mutual & Federal identity which was the most recognisable to the public was the distinctive green of the logo, a direct link to the company's mother brand, Old Mutual. "Being part of the Old Mutual group is an important aspect of our identity, and given that we are now 100% owned by Old Mutual we felt that our refreshed brand needed to reflect this and be closely aligned to the group brand identity," maintains Lee. "However, we also wanted to retain a distinctive identity which emphasised our unique brand positioning."

The focus of this brand positioning was the importance of relationships for Mutual & Federal, specifically with their brokers. "As a broker-centric company, with 95% of their business coming from this channel, we felt that Mutual & Federal should highlight this aspect and the importance of advice," notes Jackson. This relationship focus is clearly emphasised in the visual device of the ampersand, which is brought to the fore in the new-look logo. "We wanted to leverage the ampersand to become recognisable and ownable for the Mutual & Federal brand, while communicating a degree of sophistication."

Another significant change in the Mutual & Federal logo is the removal of the Table Mountain icon in the background. "The mountain symbolised our company's place of origin, the birth of Mutual & Federal 180 years ago in Cape Town," explains Lee. "However, our research showed us that the mountain was the most misunderstood element of our brand identity. Some of the respondents were not even aware that the etching depicted Table Mountain or that we had operations in other areas outside Cape Town. Thus it was obvious that the mountain was not a strong brand anchor for Mutual &Federal." In addition, with the company's expansion into other regions of southern Africa, it made sense to develop a brand that was more generic and universal.

One of the key messages being communicated in the various executions of the refreshed brand, from TV to radio to outdoor and print, is the emphasis on insurance being vital to protecting what is important to the individual. "Insurance is often seen as a grudge purchase. So we wanted to change that perception by reminding people that insurance is all about preserving not just their assets, but the sentiments they attach to these possessions," notes Jackson. "For example, your house and household contents are more than just physical assets; they are part of your home and family. Protecting what's important to you, our new payoff line, is about protecting your hopes and dreams which are part of those assets."

Lee points out that the entire brand positioning and campaign endorses the importance of getting the right advice and dealing with a trusted short-term insurer. "Mutual & Federal, with over 180 years of experience, helps to protect what's important to our customers through our invaluable and innovative solutions and the advice of brokers. The industry is changing at a fast pace, and with so many products and providers in the short-term market, choosing the right cover solution may be a complex process for some customers. Thus it is essential that individuals and companies have the option to consult brokers to help them make informed choices."

Ultimately then, it is solid and long-lasting relationships that are important to Mutual & Federal: between the company and their staff, brokers and their clients, and between brokers and the insurer. "Most importantly we remain a customer-centric organisation and through the rejuvenation of our brand we aim to strengthen our relationship with new and existing customers in various market segments," concludes Lee.

Mutual & Federal is one of the leading short-term insurers in southern Africa.

24 Aug 2011 11:48