To a limited extent, insurance companies, using different terms and retentions, do what automobile manufacturers do, which is to produce different models over successive years. But as a single glance down any street will confirm, most cars look alike, operate the same way, and cost about the same, depending on size and performance. Whether they have two doors, four doors, spoilers or metallic paint, they all get you from A to B, absent the odd parking ticket.
In their marketing programs, insurance companies go to great lengths to highlight what makes them different from all the other insurance companies. Usually, it's service or people.
Insurers and reinsurers of all kinds, apparently, employ exceptional people with exceptional expertise who offer exceptional service.
A memorable tagline or motto, and a paragraph or two of text outlining why the company is the one to choose, are usually arrayed around an arresting image.
The taglines are often the most interesting element of this advertising. For one thing, they're short, and for another they can be quite clever. Consider Converium's motto, "The next Re generation," or AIG's "We know risk." These ideas are not transferable. No reinsurer is going to plaster its ads with, "We know retrocession."
Mostly, though, these slogans are not as clever as they might be. Lloyd's of London, whose name is probably the best identifier of them all, describes itself as, "The world's leading specialist insurance market." But they're British, so a degree of stodginess is to be expected. It won't be long before some British insurer adopts the tagline, "Not actually all that bad."
Speaking of Britain, a while back, listening to the radio in London, I heard a man complaining about immigration. He suggested that the country's motto should be, "Britain: closed for business." That tells you everything you need to know about the people I refer to as the "Knights Who Say Nahhh."
You know how some Japanese tourists wear T-shirts with meaningless jargon like, "Rock and roll jam factory swordfish"? Well, Tokio Marine Nichido's tagline is "Born new!" Similarly, if less spectacularly, Korean Re's tagline is, "Always with you." PartnerRe describes itself as "the thinking insurer's reinsurer," which makes you wonder where unthinking insurers go for reinsurance, but perhaps that's being a little too analytical.
The use of buzzwords in this field is frequent. Thus, QBE is "your partner for global insurance and reinsurance solutions," and Munich Re is "your preferred partner in risk."
The best slogans are the shortest and the most direct. Thus ACE's "Global protection" gets the job done, which is more than their logo did a few years ago, following an expensive redesign. It read "AEC."
Companies have different constituencies. Thus, for shareholders, every company should adopt the slogan "Enriching you," and for insureds something along the lines of, "Covering your ass(ets)."
Since the use of multiple taglines rather misses the point, these work out on a combined basis to the ultimate tagline: "Enriching your ass(ets)." You read it here first.
ROGER CROMBIE, a Bermuda-based writer, editor and former accountant, is a regular columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He also covers issues on alternative risk.
April 1, 2005
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