Insurance is a peculiar thing. It sounds like a bit of a bore, bringing to mind paperwork, the small-print of impenetrable policies, and brokers in grey suits reminding you of all the horrible fates that await you in a cruel, dark future. Products like “Dread Disease Insurance”, don’t exactly make for a hot sell.
The reputation, however, isn’t entirely deserving, especially if you look at the history of insurance or the assumption-busting peculiarities of risk modelling. The inhabitants of Rhodes were already practicing a form of insurance 3,000 years ago, but its modern form only really took shape after the Great Fire of London. A few years after that catastrophe, in 1686, a gentleman called Edward Lloyd opened a coffee shop where members of the shipping industry gathered to swap information, and share the risk of ocean voyages with lenders. Lloyds still exists today, not as a café, but as a 25 billion Pound corporation.
It was this “boring-not-boring” dichotomy that drew me to the talk given by Peter Martin of the Münich branding agency Martin et Karczinski, and Ulrich Stumpf of Nürnberger Versicherung. That, and the notable use of the typeface Brandon Text in Nürnberger’s new CI.
Stumpf might be new to insurance, but not to change processes. When he took up work with Nürnberger, he found a company “working with contracts rather than with customers”, as he put it. Understanding and empathising with the customer became a top priority. Surveys carried out with millennials, to find out what they worry about, revealed depressing and contradictory results: terrorism and war dominate modern angst, it appears, followed by concerns about poverty in old age. Presumably that final issue is based on the assumption that terrorism and war won’t affect millennials very much after all. Stumpf pointed out that listening to young customers means taking such fears seriously, but I found his speculating on a “Friedensversicherung” (peace insurance) disturbing: insurance products are surely based on risk analysis, not by triggering real but statistically insignificant fears.
Martin steps in, and we’re onto some visuals. The agency only had three months to develop an integrated CI, based on Nürnberger’s strategic vision of an insurer that listens to individuals. That’s quite a feat.
The outcome is clean, friendly, pragmatic and appropriately unexciting. A new mark based on the simplified silhouette of Nürnberg’s Castle is a visual relief after the previous chrome-plated, pseudo-3D weirdness which Martin enjoys poking some fun at. The vaguely anthroposophic curves of the old logotype have been replaced by the affable authority of Brandon Text, which is rapidly turning into a Wohlfühlschrift for all occasions. Conspicuously, Brandon isn’t namechecked by either speaker, but present nonetheless as a huge illuminated ‘N’ on stage.
Elsewhere we see the kind of desaturated stock images of carefully staged “real” fake people ubiquitous to the CIs of so many large organisations we entrust with our money. It’s all rather tidy. The campaign slogan accompanying the new CI is appealing though: “Gutes Gefühl. Richtig entschieden” (A good feeling. Chosen correctly.”) That’s kind of all you want: acknowledgement that you’ve done something right, and that if everything goes to shit, someone’s got you covered because they did their sums.
Occasionally it helps to hear someone clearly express an idea you thought obvious, but in its eloquent presentation prompts deeper understanding. Martin does just this when, midway through the presentation, he explains how the design process itself is often the first test of a client’s credibility when they say they need a change of strategy. It’s precisely our ability as designers to facilitate process of change by visualising and verbalising the value of change, that puts us in a unique position when the risks and chances of world in flux are still being worked out.