Brand Change: Insurance, Fast Food beware

Brand change looming for both insurance and fast food brands

Marketers and brand strategists, let alone CEOs, rarely think about current events affecting brand change. But brands not aware of how hot topics like climate change and technology affect them are the ones consistently coming up short.

Let’s start with climate change. Yes, there are those who don’t believe it. But the science is pretty overwhelming.

Climate change affects the world economically. The number of natural disasters has doubled in the last 20 years. More than $300 billion in damages were recorded in the United States alone in 2017, and the numbers for 2018 promise to be higher once the final tally comes in. Climate change affects real dollars. It also necessitates some brand change.

brand changeThink about this. Insurance companies are always looking for new things to cover. (So they can charge you fees for them, then deny your claim, right?) And climate change offers up new challenges.

Climate change, brand change

There are two factors developing in response to the increasing number of weather disasters. For one, rates are sure to be adjusted (raised, in many cases). While insurance companies have traditionally used past data to create pricing, many insurance associations are modeling loss potential based on climate change.

That means higher risk areas are going to see tremendous spikes in their coverages. Think that beach house on the North Carolina coast was a good idea? Better rob Fort Knox to be suitably protected.

But let’s think about this in terms of brand change. Our own research demonstrates that customers believe insurance companies are unfair. They are big behemoths chained to old-fashioned actuary tables that see everything in terms of numbers. It’s one of the reasons why so few change insurance companies. Whether it’s coverage for your car, home or health. Why would it be different over there?

While calculating risk and premiums based on prediction models is the smart thing to do, it will also up the “unfair” factor. Customers will rail against raised rates based on what could happen rather than what has happened. Simply explaining the process won’t be enough.

It’ll take real brand change.

Insurance brands must rethink messages

Messages like “we’ll take care of you” simply won’t work anymore. Either will promoting low prices because users simply don’t believe that anymore. They believe there will always be a catch.

That means your brand change must address customers’ feelings about insurance companies head on, aligning with an emotion like fairness or smarter. When examining the insurance landscape, all insurance companies must enact brand change. Because all of them say the same inane things and they don’t work anymore.

Main benefit of fast food not as important

Now, let’s consider the effect of technology. Bankers and retailers know that technology has completely upended their industries, with many brands going belly up. Online banking and shopping outpace in-store and in-branch transactions, and will continue to do so at an ever-increasing fast pace.

But other industries will also be affected. Consider fast food chains. Dine-in same-stores sales are declining as consumers increase their usage through drive-thrus.

But here’s the thing. Technology means the real opportunities lie in delivery, mobile ordering and curbside pickup. To-go sales doubled in 2018. Like bank branches and some retail outlets, the buildings of fast food chains are eventually becoming the world’s most expensive billboards.

If you think we’re exaggerating, think about this. The number one tech movement in food is the rise of Door Dash, GrubHub and Uber Eats that deliver food to your door from nearby restaurants.

But what restaurants are they ordering from? It’s not fast food. It’s places like The Cheesecake Factory or fast-casual spots like Panera and Newk’s. Meaning, the main advantage of fast food chains – that they are fast and convenient – becomes eliminated as delivery makes further inroads into market share.

Fast food locations will disappear

That means real brand change needs to happen for those fast food chains. Right now, they are becoming fat cats (pun intended?) because times are good. The fast food industry grew each month in 2018 but one.

But the waterfall is rolling over the horizon. We are living in an age in which the customer controls what they do, when they do it and how they do it. Television programming has been completely upended by streaming services because audiences now hate being beholden to a schedule not of their making.

Ignoring the emergence of these food delivery systems is akin to Kodak ignoring digital photography. The fast food chains believe they’ll be a part of revolution. But the truth is that they will hold a smaller piece of the pie than most.

How can considering brand change affect that? For one, fast food chains – like banks and retailers – need to consider a different model. A different way to describe the industry. Because fast food will become a misnomer. The promise of fast food exists in Door Dash, GrubHub and Uber Eats. And all the others that will eventually follow.

That means real brand change for these chains. In some cases, it’s already happening. Chick-fil-A is opening delivery-only locations. Fast food brands may not think it now. But the irrelevancy of brands takes place when they don’t foresee market changes. They simply react, often too late.

Soon, you will see fast food restaurants closing locations. It may take a few years. But, when it happens, executives will be left wondering what the hell happened.

Brand change keeps you relevant

We’re here to tell you that brand change needs to happen now for you to remain relevant.

Brand change isn’t anything to fear. It is hard work. But it is needed more often than many think. Change happens. Twenty years ago, IBM was listed sixth in the Fortune 500. It’s now 34th. Hewlett Packard, 14th in 1998, 58th now. Apple, now fourth, wasn’t even on the list 20 years ago.

More importantly, several from 1998 are either dead or have fallen into irrelevancy: Sears Roebuck, Sara Lee, Xerox, Supervalu, Ameritech, 3M and Kodak.

You get the point. Change is inevitable. And it’s not just the ones who can forecast the change that win. It’s the ones who make lasting changes to their brand that win out in the end.

Sometimes, those looming trends are found in the subtle movements in our day-to-day lives that are impacted by forces greater than us. Such as climate change or the way technology changes our behaviors.

Widen the scope when looking to the future. It shouldn’t just be what’s trending in your market. But what’s changing about the world. If the customer now controls the process, then what does that mean for your brand? Does climate change affect what you offer customers? What other factors are involved in considering brand change?

Times are a-changing. They always are. And without brand change to align with it, you will die.

See more posts in the following related categories: Brand rebranding
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