Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Light in the gloom for financial service firms?

At a time when the financial services industry is seeking answers to issues of consumer trust and business performance, it is noteworthy that a financial company has come out on top in the design industry’s premier awards. Legal & General has walked off with the Grand Prix in the DBA’s Design Effectiveness Awards, judged exclusively by senior marketers and notable for being the only award scheme that uses commercial data as a key judging criterion.

After a 5 year internal and external branding and revitalisation process overseen by specialist branding agency Smith & Milton (www.smithandmilton.com), Legal & General saw its 2010 operating profits increase by a cross-company average of 12%, its market share grow by 2.9% in the same period and its share price rise 65% - four times faster than the sector – in the year to July 2011.

After hundreds of staff and customer interviews, workshops, focus groups and online research, a single-minded customer focus was organized and made real under one central thought, ‘Every Day Matters’. This over-riding thought was used to guide the actions of company staff, their interactions with each other and with stakeholders and customers, both internally and externally.

The sheer size and scale of the undertaking belies the common criticism that financial services branding owes more to style than substance. Legal & General’s 6000 staff, from CEO Tim Breedon down to the company’s graduate placements, were all part of a sophisticated 2 year employee engagement programme across 5 company locations covering each of the insurance, investment and savings businesses – all very different in terms of organisation, processes and culture.

Advocacy and brand attraction measures were up 15% in 2009 and 16% in 2010, while the company’s employee engagement scores were the highest ever recorded.

With the branding strategy working operationally and validated commercially, Legal & General has just announced its intention to run its first TV advertising for 15 years, bringing Every Day Matters to a wider consumer audience through agency Inferno.

Ben Mott, Business Director at Smith & Milton, said, “The incredible success of the Every Day Matters work is down to a serious commitment to the cause on the part of the client, and unwavering support from the whole team at Smith & Milton – a true reflection of what a client/agency partnership can achieve when it shares a mutual ambition. The DBA's recognition of the importance of commercial impact fits perfectly with our own aspirations for our clients' brands and, ultimately, their businesses."

Richard Nunn, Group Brand and Web Director at Legal & General, said, “You've created tremendous properties in Every Day Matters and the visual identity that is delivering an ever-increasing snowball effect internally. This will set the right context and tone for deeper engagement with our teams, help our quest to build a world class marketing community and finally, when we externalize Every Day Matters later this year.”

Founded in 1980, Smith & Milton (www.smithandmilton.com) is recognised as one of the UK's leading brand and communications companies. The company’s experience has been gained from working with leading brand owners, including Warburtons, Legal & General, CBRE, AXA, Travelex, Asprey and the NHS.

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