Insurance Industry News from ProgramBusiness.comBlogging Branding
The following commentary comes from Sam Friedman of National Underwriter:
Branding A Tough Challenge For Agents by Sam Friedman
I was very sorry to hear that Jeff Meyers--executive director for the past few years of “Trusted Choice,” the branding program of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America—would be leaving the association this week. The big question now is what the Big I will do with the program going forward.
Jeff Meyers did a fine job promoting the program to the industry, the media and the general public, and his dedication to the independent agency system will be sorely missed. For many years he worked in the Big I’s communications department, where he was always a pro's pro, earning a reputation for being straightforward and honest with reporters. He built up a lot of credibility with the media, and was a very effective advocate for the association and its members, before being asked to run "Trusted Choice"--one of the most challenging projects the association has ever taken on.
Jeff, according to a Big I release, is leaving to “pursue other opportunities.” I wish him well, and wherever he ends up, his new employers will be lucky to have him on their side.
Taking over as executive director of "Trusted Choice" will be Dave Evans, now a senior vice president at the association. Dave will have a much bigger job on his hands, as he’ll continue to oversee the Big I’s communications department while also serving as publisher of its magazine-- “a natural fit that will create a new synergy for ‘Trusted Choice,’” the IIABA said.
“As someone who has worked on our brand from conception to implementation, I can think of no one more qualified to take ‘Trusted Choice’ to the next level,” said IIABA President Alex Soto.
“Trusted Choice” is a terrific idea and a worthy effort. Independent agents have always had to cope with the fact that they are essentially on their own—their greatest strength, but also potentially their biggest weakness. They don’t have the advertising firepower and clear message of the “good hands people” at Allstate or the “good neighbors” at State Farm. Thus, they could use all the help they can get in establishing their own "brand."
“Trusted Choice” is an attempt to give independent agents a clear identity—as the trusted advisers for individuals and business owners when it comes to insurance and risk management.
The only weakness in the program that I can see is the lack of a national symbol of some sort beyond the “Trusted Choice” logo. Aflac has its hilarious duck, and GEICO its obnoxious gecko, but not since TV's "Perry Mason"--Raymond Burr--was the Big I’s national spokesman many moons ago has the independent agent had a clearly recognizable icon to grab the attention and stick in the minds of consumers.
It helped that Mr. Burr was a decent person with enormous credibility who truly believed in the independent agency system. He was tireless in traveling around the country, promoting the “more than one company agent.”
I have no idea who could take his place today, even if the Big I were interested in going that way--a big "if" considering the price tag that would likely be involved. (Mr. Burr was worth every penny the Big I spent, but he didn't come cheap.) Rudy Giulliani has the credibility, but not the charisma or charm of Mr. Burr. Still, it’s a suggestion worth considering.
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Sam Friedman, National Underwriter's editor in chief, celebrated his 25th anniversary with the weekly newsmagazine by launching a blog at at www.property-casualty.com, building on his longtime column, "A View From The Press Box." He posts his opinions on breaking news and trends, comments on the work of other opinion leaders, and always invites reader respClick for the whole story...