CASE STUDY Ageas Federal Life Insurance CMO on the challenges of its India rebrand during the Covid pandemic

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

Karthik Raman, CMO and Head of Products at Ageas Federal Life Insurance, explains how and why the company rebranded in India, as well as the challenges it faced.


Financial Services Forum: What was the main goal you were trying to achieve with the rebrand?

Karthik Raman: Earlier this year, in January, we underwent a brand identity change from IDBI Federal Life Insurance to Ageas Federal Life Insurance pursuant to international insurance giant, Ageas Insurance International NV acquiring majority stake in the company.

Our main objective during the rebrand was to communicate the new brand to our target audience groups in the most effective manner and to reinforce this communication wherever possible through different media and platforms.

How did you determine your strategy?

The life insurance market in India is extremely cluttered, with over 23 competitors vying for customers’ time, money and attention by speaking the same language of death, fear and negativity.

When undertaking our rebrand, we first sat down and mapped out our brand goals for the organisation and the various parameters that would help us to achieve them. Over the last five to six years, we have attempted to differentiate ourselves from competitors by speaking about positivity, health and wellness and have followed an unconventional approach to branding and marketing through the route of sports and fitness.

With this strategy working well for us, we decided that we would continue with it even post the rebrand to communicate our message that insurance isn’t just about maintaining the life you have, but about creating the life you want, and living it with positivity, fearlessness and optimism.

What external partners did you work with on the project?

Our rebranding campaign was conceptualised and created in partnership with our advertising agency, VMLY&R India.

What challenges did you face in the rebrand and how did you overcome them?

With the second wave of Covid-19 and the ensuing total lockdown in the country during the latter half of the rebranding project, a major challenge was connecting with all the stakeholders involved in the project. We used virtual meetings and shared spreadsheets to get everyone on the same page. Our rebranding team, comprising representatives from every department, was kept in the loop about all developments so that everyone was aware about the master plan and the various timelines, roles and responsibilities, interdependencies, and possible risks that we could face.

Since the various stakeholders in the project were spread out across the country, with a few overseas, we ensured that all branding guidelines were circulated well in advance along with a walkthrough of the key points so that they were aware of all the brand elements including logo, messaging, templates, signages, fonts, and even brand name translations into regional languages.

What media campaigns did you do to support it and what channels did you use?

To announce the new brand, we launched a rebranding campaign spearheaded by our brand ambassador and legendary cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar. The campaign launched with a film featuring Tendulkar which drove home the Company’s fresh, bold outlook, while reiterating the deep-rooted values that continue to guide us through this transformation. It also established the Ageas Federal Life Insurance brand as positive and forward thinking; a brand that inspires individuals to live fearlessly when empowered by Ageas Federal’s smart financial planning and life insurance solutions.

We rolled out our re-branding campaign on the digital medium and through outdoor billboard advertising across the country. Digital has been our preferred medium of communication over the past few years, being the most cost-effective while allowing us to reach out to our preferred customer segments with targeted communication. We ran our campaign across the gamut of digital platforms including social media, OTT platforms, GDN (Google Display Network), news portals (both in English and vernacular languages), financial portals, influencer handles, and programmatic and native advertising.

How did you preserve and transfer the existing brand equity of IDBI Federal Life Insurance to the new brand?

We had built up tremendous brand equity for our erstwhile brand, IDBI Federal Life Insurance over the past thirteen years, and transferring it to our new brand, Ageas Federal Life Insurance was a challenge. To begin with, our rebranding campaign featured our existing brand ambassador, Sachin Tendulkar with the simple, direct message that ‘IDBI Federal Life Insurance is now Ageas Federal Life Insurance’ to drive home the connect between our past identity and our new one.

We also used various platforms and channels including our social media pages, mailers, newsletters, SMS and WhatsApp messages, and emails, to constantly reinforce this message to our various stakeholders on a periodic basis, even once the initial brand campaign concluded.

Where possible, we tailor and customise the communication for different audience groups including our current and potential customers, vendors, partners, distribution channels, advisors, employees and potential recruits, so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding about the new brand name and identity.

What are your KPIs for success?

Our monthly brand scores on various parameters like awareness among customers and consideration for the company help us track our brand performance vis-à-vis competitors in the category.

What were the outcomes? Can you share any figures or feedback?

Our rebranding campaign has seen great traction, garnering over 134 million impressions across various digital platforms over a 45-day period from March 1st, 2021 till April 15th, 2021.

What did you learn from the campaign?

The learnings from undergoing a brand identity change during the pandemic have been tremendous. From leveraging digital in the most effective manner, to adapting to the changing media landscape in the country on account of the pandemic, to virtually connecting with audiences, to overcoming unexpected obstacles as a result of repeated lockdowns; the entire journey of the brand identity change has been an exciting (if challenging) one for us as an organisation.

What’s next?

Communication is key and our aim during the year is to keep communicating with our stakeholder groups on a periodic basis. We will shortly be launching a new campaign titled #BasEkCall (translation: Just One Call) featuring our brand ambassador, Sachin Tendulkar which aptly focuses on the ongoing pandemic and the need to connect with our families, friends and loved ones. Our aim through this campaign is to reinforce our message of hope and positivity, while further building our brand equity and recall.

Continuing with our focus on health and fitness, we recently concluded the second edition of our ‘Run to the Moon’ initiative, a virtual run which saw over 15,000 participants raising a substantial amount of money to support the education of children in the country.

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