A couple of months ago, in an article I called “Surprised by Insurance,” I advocated using the concept of surprise as a distinguishing feature of your brand. While you might expect surprise to be a distinguishing branding feature in sexier industries like fashion, food or entertainment, it’s a fairly unusual phenomenon to find in the insurance industry. Nevertheless, here are a few more examples to inspire you.
By now, most insurance industry people have probably seen the amazing Rube Goldberg Machine music video version of “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go, sponsored by State Farm. I’ve embedded it here in case you haven’t seen it, or if you want to see it again.
The sweep and grandeur of its convoluted gadgetry is breathtaking. Surprising, yes, to say the least, but also surprising is the fact that the elaborate rigmarole was sponsored by State Farm, not one of your usual suspects when it comes to funding complete nonsense. And surprising, too, is its low profile attribution for funding the production. State Farm’s only mention is its logo on the little toy truck that gets the whole contraption rolling and the acknowledgement in the credits at the end.
State Farm wants people to associate its brand with awesome music and outrageous fun so you’ll like them. That‘s also why State Farm and other insurance companies have Facebook pages now: so you can “like” them. However, the level of engagement on Facebook pursued by large insurance companies like State Farm that ask questions about who your first roommate was and did you watch that ‘49ers-Giants game seems a little contrived. It’s like they’re not quite sure why they’re there, they only know it’s important to be there.
It’s more convincing — “authentic” is the word used by social media experts — when a niche player like Acuity Insurance posts on its “InGear for Truckers” Facebook site. Posts like “Top 5 Ways Your MCS-150 Can Hurt Your CSA Score,” updates on DOT and FMCSA, trucker tunes and photos of custom big rigs, speak to the audience. Acuity actually seems to be listening instead of trying to serve up content — any content — in hopes of making a connection. That’s surprising.
There’s probably nothing more surprising to consider than the claim made by Peter van Aatrijk and Chris Amrhein, that “Insurance is fun.” These two insurance industry writers and pundits have created a comic book-style website to prove their point. Full of insider insurance jokes and content from their day jobs as columnists for Insurance Journal and Agent & Broker magazines, their real mission is to empower agents with sales, marketing and management tips in the course of having a good time.
They even have a store where they sell “Insurance is Fun” mugs, golf shirts and teddy bears. I think the most surprising thing about their “Insurance is Fun” brand is that they are not being ironic. What they’re saying is that when you really take your insurance career seriously — not because you have to, but because you truly enjoy what you do — it is fun and don’t be ashamed to say so. After all, isn’t the real key to success loving what you do? And what a payoff: Surprising people with your passion and commitment.