A Truly Innovative Customer Brand Experience from… an Insurance Company

hospitality branding
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Building Brand Connections in a Crowded Market
For all brands, and especially those in the financial services market, making a connection with their customers is paramount. When it comes to the business of insurance that can be a pretty tough challenge. But proving that a bit of creative thinking can go a long way in solving the curliest of brand challenges, North American insurance company State Farm has created a very sticky brand experience they’ve called ‘Next Door’.
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Part local coffee shop, part Starbucks inspired third place, Next Door has been created to encourage potential insurance customers to engage in ‘financial coaching’ offering a program of ‘soft-sell’ learning sessions covering the gamut of financial and insurance topics aimed at the man (and woman) in the street.
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As the guys at Next Door put it in their own brand language:
“A couple years ago, we were sitting around the State Farm® office and we had a revelation. What if we didn’t have to face the scary idea of planning our futures alone, scavenging for info online? What if we talked and worked together in new, collaborative ways and figured things out? So we started imagining a community space where anyone could ask questions about finances and insurance and get some answers. A spot to hang-out, take classes, talk with Financial Coaches and fuel-up on great local coffee. And everything would be free (except the coffee) because we’re experimenting. We really wanna learn what people really want. Then, we’ll shoot those wants back to the Farm. We help you. You help us innovate. We’re all smarter for it. We think it’s a win-win. For now, there’s only one Next Door in Chicago.”
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financial branding
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There’s no doubt the Next Door brand space has been designed to replicate a cozy, local hang-out, but the question remains as to whether a place with a relatively transparent corporate brand role will be able to bridge the gap from work place to ‘third place’. If it can do just that, Next Door will have created a highly valuable customer acquisition and relationship building tool – one that is imminently replicable – and with the potential to create real differentiation in what is a highly competitive market.
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As brands in the financial product and insurance market continue to battle for snippets of market share, developing brand strategies with the potential to connect with customers and shift them from neutral to loyal must be a priority. With the stakes high, I’m only surprised more brands do not invest the time and energy in innovating the way they go to market and the brand communications they leverage to engage their customers in the manner of State Farm and their exciting Next Door project.
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