How do you capture focused energy—how do you define the positive way we advise clients and our passion for doing the right thing? How do clients perceive us, and how do we talk to them about who we are, what we do—how we can help them?
Who are we, anyway?
Rebranding is a pivotal journey where you ask the tough questions and listen to the answers. As a firm, Atlantic/Smith, Cropper & Deeley recognized we needed to pin down these answers to clearly define who we are and where we’re going. Our team needed a unified platform so we could go to market with confidence and own the energy that differentiates us. Our clients needed the clarity, too. So, we launched a comprehensive rebranding process in 2017.
Rebranding is revealing. It makes you vulnerable. It grounds you. You look at the firm inside and out. Also, rebranding is invigorating. A fresh brand, new name and identity would connect the firm’s legacy to its future, while establishing a direct voice that is relevant and personal.
“We want to be bold and bring a certain level of energy to what we do—but there is also a balance in the way we use our expertise to actively serve our clients,” says Laura Deeley Bren, President.
“We had a lot of assumptions about what people thought about us—but we didn’t know for sure,” says Beth Bell, Vice President of Operations. “The brand now matches who we are.”
Finding Our Voice
The rebranding process is a deep-dive discovery that includes assessing the existing brand and our competition. It involves in-depth interviews with the executive team, employees, clients and other stakeholders. “Everyone had the ability to comment on who we are and what it is like to be a part of our team,” Deeley Bren says.
The process is intentional and deliberate. “The intent was to stay very focused on the end results, and to work through the process,” says Cindy Hall, Vice President of Sales.
To accomplish this, Atlantic/Smith, Cropper & Deeley partnered with designRoom to conduct a comprehensive brand assessment to identify where the brand is today—and to develop a strong brand that is relevant, engaging and will carry the firm into the future. designRoom’s process includes an in-depth assessment process where they research, survey and analyze the existing brand. That includes identifying our culture, goals, environment, history, and clients’ attitudes and perceptions.
designRoom held a focus group and initiated a company-wide survey. They reached out to our employees, clients and other stakeholders to gather insights. We found out that our energetic culture was not lost on clients—but we weren’t presenting ourselves that way online or through the content we distribute. We also learned that our name was confusing, and many of our Client Advisors were using iterations of it when speaking to prospects, like “Cropper Deeley” or “Atlantic Smith.” (More on that later.)
Kelly Farrell, president, designRoom, relates that our transition in leadership and competitive position in the marketplace made it an ideal time to rebrand. “Laura and her leadership team had re-energized the firm during the last five years—the culture evolved as they focused on growth and redefining how they work with clients, acting more as advisors,” Farrell says. “Clients were feeling that, but the messaging didn’t match. Connecting the ‘inside’ culture and energy with the ‘outside’ perception is critical. What do clients and prospects value about the firm? The brand assessment process allowed us to dig deep, take a position and put a stake in the ground.”
Of course, there is often a dose of healthy skepticism that accompanies a significant strategic mission like rebranding. Chris Carroll, Vice President of Life & Health, says, “I knew the time commitment that a project like this would take—but on the other side, I was intimately aware that we needed consistency in our brand. We needed consistency in our marketing material, in the messaging we put out to clients, prospects and the community.”
Carroll adds, “Unfortunately, a book does get judged by its cover, and we needed to enhance what we submit to our carrier partners, clients and prospects, and deliver some additional value and confidence.”
After going through a thorough brand assessment, designRoom identified key words to guide creative work—the foundation of design and messaging for the new brand. The last step is putting the new brand into action in every touchpoint, from how we talk to clients about what we do to our online presence, advertising and the content we distribute to the market. That’s where we stand today.
The new brand position for the firm is: Real, forward-thinking in every interaction. And, there is a tone of voice to carry communication:
ATTRIBUTE: Deep industry knowledge and experience
APPROACH: Actively serving clients with energy, focus and a helping spirit
TONE: Positive energy
“Rebranding has made us more purposeful in our voice and in the way we communicate—there’s a confidence,” Hall says. “The whole process has been very grounding.”
A New Name & Tagline
Growing comfortable with the name was a coming of age. Initially, Deeley Bren hesitated, not wanting to distill the value of their team approach. However, the meaning of Deeley and its historical significance were important. And, with Deeley Bren as president, joining her father as a partner and symbolizing the future of the firm, this name was a critical turning point.
Keeping Deeley would give longtime clients assurance that the firm they know and trust as their partner was still committed to them—and it would communicate to new clients and prospects the energy, drive and expertise that Deeley Bren and her team possess. Simplifying the name to Deeley Insurance Group ties the firm to its legacy and its future, following the perpetuation.
With the urging of leadership and the brand team, they adopted the name Deeley Insurance Group.
“Deeley Insurance Group shows stability and a transition of generations,” Deeley Bren says.
Sandy Deeley, a founding partner of the firm, participated in the brand assessment by offering his insight, like others who were interviewed. “Recognizing the difficulty our agency personnel had in trying to explain their identity was enlightening,” he says. “It was a scattered approach—it was such a difficult brand to put out there because of the name.”
The name Deeley is one that the leadership and agency can truly own because of its connection to the past and relevance today, and tomorrow. Sandy Deeley remarks on how the name Atlantic/Smith, Cropper & Deeley grew so…cumbersome. “As we completed mergers and acquisitions over the years, we kept the names as a courtesy to the incoming culture,” he relates.
Over the last several years, the other names were no longer partners in the agency. So, the only active party in the name was Deeley. And, those answering the phones at the firm simply referred to it as “insurance offices,” because it was much easier to communicate. “It wasn’t easy for the public or our team to use the name when they went to market,” Sandy Deeley says.
Interestingly, Deeley Bren learned what the name Deeley actually means during the brand assessment process when designRoom shared this: good business ability; a builder who takes responsibility well; a doer who’s down-to-earth; versatile with the ability to learn easily.
This resonated with her and the team. They were absolutely a Deeley firm.
After landing on the name, designRoom presented taglines to boil down our brand promise. We decided on Be Sure.
With the new name and identify, Hall says, “We have a stand-out brand and position in the market that makes our team feel confident and comfortable about who they represent. Our energy is directive and purposeful.”
A Shared Vision
“With the rebranding, our team will have clarity on how to present who we are and our intention,” Hall says. “We have a clear, concise single platform—one message. This is who we are.”
Every interaction is positive. The firm takes every effort to do good for clients and partners. Deeley Insurance Group is confident, direct, active. “Clients can feel that in their experience and in the way we deliver service,” Deeley Bren says of insight shared in the brand surveys and assessment.
The brand is grounded. And a unified look, feel and voice gives team members the tools to be direct and authentic to the brand promise.
“Everyone is always searching for meaning and value in what they do—they want to do more than work a job,” Deeley Bren says.
“When you realize what we do every day, it’s significant: We’re there for all the best moments in life, and the most challenging times in life. We’re there when you take the risk to start a business, when you have a child and your family grows, and when you face loss.”
Rebranding supports the business strategy and future growth. It’s a platform for what’s next.
“It’s an exciting time for the people who are carrying our firm forward,” Bell affirms.