Who says conservative brands can’t have a bit of fun?

“If people aren’t talking about you, they’re not talking about you for a reason. And the reason isn’t that they dislike you. They’re not talking about you because you’re boring.” ~ Seth Godin

Conservative brands get a raw deal. While their more youthful, sexy and luxurious cousins have a wonderful time being implemented in all manner of whacky ways, the likes of financial services, government and consulting brand executions are often just plain boring. Predictable even.

It’s safe to say the school of thought in operation here is the perception a conservative brand needs to strictly align a with its company’s culture and values. In best-practice-land this is true. However, there’s always wiggle room to bring a conservative brand out of its shell.

Using Statewide Mutual, our long-running local government insurance client as a case in point, here are four tips to grow market engagement of a typically conservative brand.

Share your unique story

Everyone loves a good story. The more relatable, the better. Imparting an authentic, well-written tale that takes your audience on a journey is golden.

The ideal story format sets the scene, followed by a description of the problem/introduction of an antagonist, and concludes with a solution. The intention here is to leave the audience with a positive feeling that tempers future interactions with the brand. This won’t necessarily directly convert into cold hard cash but will go a long way in leaving the audience open to future brand messages.

Statewide’s story is one of David versus Goliath. In a nutshell:

  • insurance claims against NSW local government were seen to be spiralling out of control in the early 1990s
  • large commercial insurers saw the sector as an unacceptable risk
  • no NSW council could get affordable insurance cover for love or money
  • 96 councils took matters into their own hands by pooling limited finances to buy insurance in bulk
  • Statewide Mutual was formed, today becoming the largest insurance pool of its type in Australia
  • the same commercial insurers are now desperate for a slice of the action

And if this isn’t a quintessential Aussie story of an underdog getting one up on ‘the man’, then I don’t know what is.

Talk to the audience like they’re human

Brand identity isn’t all about how your brand looks; it’s also created by what you say and how you say it.

I’m sure you can imagine the sheer amount of jargon, acronyms and industry-speak that gets bandied around behind closed doors of an insurance organisation – which is exactly where it should stay. Copy drowning in such language creeps mistrust onto your brand and has your audience wondering “what the hell are they hiding?”

Customer centric copy presented in an affable tone and voice is where the money’s at; approachable, relatable, and, dare we say, ‘human’ copy that anticipates customers’ needs and solves problems. The temptation should be avoided to take the path of least resistance and produce bland copy taken directly from the fortnightly middle-managers’ meeting.

Remember, the same people who buy the latest fashions and cool gadgetry also purchase insurance. Let your audience know your conservative brand speaks their language.

We took this path when relaunching Statewide’s brand in 2014, following 20 years of corporate flavoured communications. The audience was expecting similar copy styles to the past. We hit them square between the eyes with a conversational, authentic, sincere, and at times playful tone – achieving significant cut-through, awareness and embracing of the previously cautious brand.

Do something unexpected

People expect a conservative brand to maintain its stiff composure in execution – so occasionally do the exact opposite. Not the Uncle-Percy-on-the-dance-floor-after-his-first-vodka-Red-Bull kind of wild and crazy, just give things a little nudge by going against the grain while staying true to your brand’s values.

While you’re at it, try to appeal to your audience’s human side. Brand execution without an insight into human behaviour won’t wrinkle the skin of a lukewarm pudding let alone generate a decent level of awareness. And it’s this awareness that leads to results. Think awareness → interest → desire → action.

We’ve recently pushed the envelope by creating Statewide branded Berocca gift packs, handed out at local government events to remedy the following morning’s effect of guests who’ve ‘over-indulged’. Now infamously known as ‘Recovery Insurance’, the packs feature copy along the lines of “Whether we’re protecting your assets, or preventing tomorrow’s headache -– we’re right there with you”.

These simple, low-cost pieces of promotional merch have become one of the most talked about brand executions we’ve done for the client.

Explore new mediums. Grow engagement.

While you’re incorporating the above tips to jazz up your brand, why not reach your audience through mediums not typically used in your sector? Engagement through the likes of social media or outdoor mediums (did someone say blimp?*) can enrich personal connections with your brand.

We’re not suggesting you launch a saucy Snapchat account or look to the skies and wonder what could be; more like engage your audience in an informal setting where the fun aspects of your brand’s personality can sparkle.

The key words here is engagement. With social media, for example, it’s not about getting 1 million likes. No sir. It’s all about better engaging your audience with your brand. You want them to have an opinion, react to a post or image and provide immediate feedback. But most importantly you want to make them feel valued and involved towards bolstering deeper relationships.

Statewide has very recently dipped their toes into social media through LinkedIn, with a view to exploring other mediums in the near future. The future is looking more like being just around the corner with the growth in market engagement they’re starting to see.

So give us a yell if your brand is a little shy and just needs a nudge coming out of its shell to reach full potential. As they say, “It’s the quiet ones you’ve gotta watch”.

* We’ve never recommended a client use a blimp to promote their brand, nor likely ever will, but you get the point.