Launching a successful rebrand requires time, patience, and skill. At our January AMA in the PM, Cathy Nyce, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications of Maryland Auto Insurance and Erinn Hesse, Account Supervisor at Planit, shared their experience of rebranding MAIF, Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, into what we all now recognize as Maryland Auto Insurance. Their presentation truly showcased how a client and an agency can openly collaborate and create the right environment for a high quality, award winning rebrand. In case you couldn’t make it (or if you want a refresher), here are three major takeaways from this presentation:
1. BRAND YOURSELF AROUND A SOLUTION – NOT A PRODUCT
More often than not, recognizing a problem is the first step to fixing a problem. Maryland Auto (formerly MAIF) had a major public perception issue. They were perceived to be “the poor man’s auto insurer” or “the bad drivers’ carrier,” which wasn’t the case. Their mission was to reduce the number of uninsured drivers on the road and provide individuals with a new shot at coverage that they previously hadn’t been able to obtain.
Once Maryland Auto realized that they had to face this stigma, there was no better way to change perception than to change their name and the way they pitched their company to the public.
They realized there were two ways they could approach consumers to buy their product: fear or empathy. If they went with fear, they could state to consumers that they were protecting them from fines, possible financial woes, and present catastrophic scenarios that they would avoid by being covered. Empathy allowed them to not only understand their consumers’ woes but set them up to be a viable insurance solution. Maryland Auto needed to showcase how not having a car affects other parts of your daily life, such as not being able to go grocery shopping or taking children to school.
2. FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER
“An important factor in the agency selection process for us was finding an agency that could help lead us through a “self-discovery” process up front and help us better understand and define our brand before we started on the creative process. Planit had a proven track record of helping brands do that successfully.” Cathy Nyce, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Maryland Auto Insurance
Cathy and her team put out a RFP to start vetting agencies. Putting together a RFP doesn’t guarantee a perfect match, and they made sure to look for four additional factors: value alignment, strong core competencies, a common language, and chemistry.
If your agency doesn’t buy into your value proposition, then you could be stuck with a firm that was only willing to churn out creative and get paid. Throughout the interview process, Planit ensured they understood the value of helping their client lower the number of uninsured drivers on the road.
Planit and Maryland Auto had to find a level of communication that made their experience comfortable. Each industry is different and requires a unique marketing approach. An agency with little-to-no experience in their industry would most likely make strategic marketing and creative decisions that didn’t mesh with their audience or sales cycle.
Chemistry is essential. Maryland Auto knew that they were going to be interacting with these people regularly, spending a fair amount of time working closely with them on various initiatives. Maryland Auto made sure to acknowledge that Planit was their marketing expert and that they were a valued part of Maryland Auto. This was easily showcased by the willingness to open their marketing department with open arms to Planit.
“We instantly knew it was the right fit with Maryland Auto when they gave us a real seat at the table, and treated us as partners. They shared the good and the bad with us, and we were able to use all the information to inform a lot of the great work we got to all do together.” Erinn Hesse, Account Supervisor at Planit
3. AGREE ON WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
Maryland Auto and Planit made sure to define success by what metrics to measure that would lead to a successful rebrand. They decided that their marketing efforts should focus on increased quotes and engagement, thus increasing the chance at conversion: a signed policy. Engagement is often a generic way to say your audience took an action, so Planit and Maryland Auto quickly wanted to measure these three-key metrics on their new site: number of quotes, number of web sessions, and bounce rate. Ultimately, their number one goal was an increase in signed policies and having less uninsured Marylanders on the road.
As Planit walked through their process, they made sure to always have a respectful feedback loop from Maryland Auto to make sure that they were on the same page. For example, when they went through their “brand essence” statements, Planit gave them three options and Maryland Auto chose the best fit. They did the same thing as they went through the mood board and many of the remaining parts of the creative process.
Planit and Maryland Auto were able to create an interactive, open creative environment that allowed them to exceed multiple goals that they set for success. They had a 25.7% increase in web quotes, a 58.9% increase in web sessions, and a 27.3% decrease in website bounces, which increased overall quotes by 8.1% and increased their conversion rate by almost 5%.
We are thankful to have had the opportunity to have Cathy Nyce, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications of Maryland Auto Insurance and Erinn Hesse, Account Supervisor at Planit speak about their successful rebrand. Their presentation demonstrated that a rebrand isn’t an simple process and how critical having the right agency partner is for both internal and external purposes.
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