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How Empathy Sets This Insurance Brand Apart in a Commoditised Industry


Tory Pachis, SVP of marketing and communications at Amica Insurance, speaks with LBB’s Addison Capper about working with Mother in New York, Mother Design, and Media by Mother for a wholesale brand refresh

How Empathy Sets This Insurance Brand Apart in a Commoditised Industry

Amica Insurance, a midsized insurance company from the US, came to Mother and tasked them with two goals: increase brand awareness nationally and grow its customer base. 

The brand is outspent in marketing dollars by much larger competitors who spend over $1 billion annually and utilise celebrity spokespeople, humour and jingles in their campaigns. A big task? Yes.

But as the integrated agency of record, Mother in New York, Mother Design and Media by Mother came together to develop a strategy to refresh the brand from a design, creative and media perspective, and break through the cluttered category.

The creative platform, titled ‘Empathy Is Our Best Policy’, is designed to present the company in an authentic and emotional way, encouraging consumers to perceive Amica as a company renowned for service, financial strength and customer loyalty. It very purposely shies away from the gimmicky humour that the sector is awash with.

Bringing more warmth and approachability to every touchpoint, Mother Design revitalised the visual identity system for the brand. Drawing inspiration from Amica’s 116-year history, the new wordmark acts as a signature for the company, designed to ensure uniqueness and longevity. 

Tory Pachis, Amica’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, sees the company’s market position as a great opportunity. While Amica is repeatedly recognised for outstanding service, unwavering financial stability and holds some of the highest customer retention rates in the industry, less than 3% of US consumers are aware of the Amica brand. 

LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with Tory to find out why he thinks the brand’s evolution will resonate with both current and future customers.

LBB> Tell me a bit about the insurance sector in the United States. How would you summarise the general vibe of its marketing and communications?

Tory> Most of the insurance industry uses humour as a mechanism to increase brand recall, and many ads lean on price as the core value proposition. At Amica, we see the category white space as one focused on service, value and human empathy. We believe that insurance is integral to protecting the most important parts of our customers’ lives, and our 2023 ad campaign reflects that.

LBB> Can you expand on how you would summarise Amica's general vibe, and how it is different?

Tory> The last two years have been challenging for the insurance industry as a whole. Profitability has suffered due to increases in claim severity and historical inflation. As a result, many large brands have reduced their ad spend to focus on profitability. As a challenger brand, we see this as a unique window of opportunity to increase our ad spend and share of voice, which will help increase our brand awareness over the long term. Additionally, our new brand platform – ‘Empathy Is Our Best Policy’ – highlights Amica’s human approach to customer service. We hope that this approach will drive brand awareness and customer consideration in targeted growth markets.

LBB> Brand awareness of Amica in the United States is relatively low - something that you feel positive about. Why?  

Tory> Amica, at 116 years old, is the oldest mutual insurer of automobiles in the country. And while it’s repeatedly recognised for outstanding service, unwavering financial stability and some of the highest customer retention rates in the industry, less than 3% of US consumers are aware of the Amica brand. This brand awareness challenge stems from the fact that Amica previously operated as a strictly word-of-mouth, referral-based business, and didn’t begin advertising to the broad market until the mid-1990s. We’re investing in brand advertising and sponsorships as a way to build awareness in a crowded insurance category.

LBB> What was the research and strategy process that led you to the 'empathy' path for your communications?

Tory> The creative platform, ‘Empathy Is Our Best Policy’, was developed to showcase exactly that: Amica’s unparalleled service coming through for our customers when they need it most. The campaign establishes Amica’s point of difference – personalised service from representatives who provide genuine care and empathy to customers during every interaction. We chose to highlight Amica’s value in an authentic and emotional way by showing how the insurer delivers in key moments: following a car accident, when there’s damage to your home and when a new family member arrives whose future you want to protect. The campaign will work to improve unaided brand awareness, increase consideration and ultimately drive up conversion.

LBB> Why does focusing on empathy help you stand out within your category?

Tory> It can be hard to understand the value of insurance until you truly need it. Those instances – a car accident, a house fire, even the death of a loved one – are a reminder of how unpredictable life can be. That’s why this new brand platform avoids humour or mascots and instead takes a serious approach that illustrates the importance of reliable, high-quality insurance. By championing price, many competitors have commoditised insurance. Leading with empathy allows us to deliver more emotional storytelling in our creative platform.

LBB> Amica has an entirely new visual identity - tell us about it! Why is it a good fit and how is it complementary to this new messaging? 

Tory> This is the fifth logo in our company’s history, with the last update being made in 1998. There are several things we love about our refreshed look:

  • The script style gives the logo the feeling that it was handwritten, which is a nod to the personal service we provide to our customers.
  • Unlike most script [fonts], ours stands upright, providing a more contemporary feel. We believe this gives us a nice sense of our 116-year history, our modern capabilities and our strength moving forward.
  • There is the suggestion of an infinity loop in the ‘A’, which speaks to the lasting relationships we build.

But this wasn’t just a logo change – it was part of a larger effort to reflect the empathy and humanity with which we serve our customers.

LBB> How does this campaign and redesign feed into your wider marketing activities? 

Tory> Amica is pursuing larger and more impactful branding opportunities to build name recognition. One example is the sponsorship that granted Amica the naming rights to Providence, Rhode Island’s 13,000-seat arena now known as the Amica Mutual Pavilion (AMP). The building is home to the Big East’s Providence College men’s basketball team and the AHL’s Providence Bruins ice hockey team. It also hosts major national touring acts, family shows and other sporting events. We’ve also launched partnerships with HGTV, Roku and Warner Brothers Discovery that allow us to strategically be present with our target audience.

LBB> You tapped into a number of Mother capabilities, such as Mother Design and Media by Mother, for this campaign. How was that experience? 

Tory> Through our work with Mother Design, we determined that empathy would be the North Star of our creative campaign. Once all the creative was completed, Media by Mother planned and executed all buys for the campaign, tailoring a media plan that includes digital audio, podcasts, radio, social media, digital display and paid search.

Custom content partnerships within multiple high-profile television franchises is another key component of the campaign. This includes integrating Amica within programming, as well as producing custom on-air, digital and social content, all designed to amplify the brand’s empathy messaging.

LBB> Generally, how did you work with Mother when it came to building out the creative approach and strategy? Was it quite collaborative? 

Tory> The partnership with Mother has been a true collaboration from the start. One of the first things their creative team did was visit our Rhode Island campus to meet with employees and listen to phone calls with our policyholders and prospects.  They really leaned into understanding our culture and our value proposition. 

Our internal creative team works hand in hand with Mother’s to make sure that our messaging is consistent, warm and aligns with Amica’s mission of putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.

LBB> What are your key aims and ambitions with 'Empathy Is Our Best Policy'?

Tory> Through this campaign, we’ve seen improved performance in several key areas of focus:
  • Unaided brand awareness nearly doubled in our target states
  • Online mentions of Amica spiked to 118% over last year
  • Sales running about 10% higher than last year
  • Significant improvement in lead quality
  • Higher attention scores among consumers
  • An increase in Amica-related searches

We’ve also used more third-party data to track results like these, and we’ve implemented Trustpilot reviews in our marketing/ad campaigns to highlight positive customer experiences. 

LBB> What other marketing activities will be keeping you busy during 2023? 

Tory> Amica has also taken an innovative approach to break through and capture coveted consumer attention by partnering with networks to integrate its brand into programming. The multimedia campaign includes TV, social and radio, and is running across leading broadcast networks and streaming providers, including HGTV, Paramount, TBS, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube and more. An example of this is HGTV’s ‘Home Town Takeover’, where an Amica representative discusses the importance of being properly insured with the families whose homes are being renovated.

From a life insurance standpoint, we’ve partnered with the Empathy app to support life insurance beneficiaries that have lost a loved one with emotional, logistical, financial and health support, free of charge.

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Categories: Finance, Insurance

LBB Editorial, Fri, 15 Sep 2023 17:01:09 GMT