The marketing term brand is not all that different from the symbol livestock owners use to distinguish their animals as their own. The word brand comes from the Old Norse word brandr, which means to burn.
Brands and branding can be difficult to understand as there are lots of definitions of what a brand is and how you create a brand. To start off, let's look at the two parts that make up your brand.
First, like a livestock brand, your agency's brand is the name, sign, symbol or design, or some combination of thereof, you use to identify your agency from your competition. This includes your agency's name, your logo, your colors, and your slogan if you have one.
The second part is the associations your target audience, including clients and prospects, makes when they come across your agency online or offline.
Let's use Starbucks as an example. Whether you love or hate the Seattle coffee chain, there is a level of quality you expect when you choose Starbucks over an untried coffee shop. This is part of the Starbucks brand.
Your brand is your agency's identity and how your agency is perceived in the market. Your clients expect certain things from your agency based on their past experiences with you. When you meet these expectations, your reinforce your brand and foster the trust and loyalty the consumer feels about your agency.
When you fail to meet expectations is when you hurt your brand and start to lose clients to your competition.
The hard part about branding is accepting that you don't control the second part of your brand. Yes, you can influence and shape it, but the people who control a big part of your brand isn't you. It's your clients.
But what can you do?
1. Identify what your agency stands for. What makes your insurance agency different from every other agency in your area? What is the one thing your clients think of when they think of your agency? A great way to answer the latter question is to ask your current clients.
2. Do an inventory of your marketing materials. Do your marketing materials talk about the one thing that you are known for? Are your marketing materials consistent with each other? If you've used different styles, logos or colors, start fixing the inconsistencies so that every piece of marketing collateral looks like it's come from the same agency.
3. Show your difference. You can talk about your great customer service all you want. The truth is every other insurance agency is also touting their service. Stand out by showing your difference. Get testimonials and case studies that tell how your agency has made a difference in your clients' lives.
Branding is not a replacement for a specific agency marketing campaign like email marketing or SEO. However, it does reinforce your sales and marketing messages in some very important ways.
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