Seeking to leverage the power of a strong corporate brand

Historically, American Family Insurance had followed a fairly internal approach to innovation and growth. Inspiration for new product development was often the result of examining its strengths and core competencies and identifying potential new product offerings that could logically result from them. The company was not as disciplined in terms of looking externally to the marketplace to identify consumer unmet needs and white space opportunities. Furthermore, despite possessing a very strong corporate brand with numerous positive equities, its brand was seldom a source of inspiration for business growth. The result was a track record of incremental innovation—new products that were either unsuccessful or made a minimal impact in the marketplace.

Given these dynamics, American Family Insurance was seeking to combine an “outside-in” consumer-centric approach with inspiration from its corporate brand to drive transformative business growth. In doing so, it wanted to look beyond its core insurance category to “adjacencies”—the categories for which it provides insurance coverage—namely auto, home, life, and small business.

Identifying pillars and platforms to drive brand growth

FullSurge designed and conducted both qualitative and quantitative research with consumers. The research plan was designed to simultaneously accomplish two objectives: more deeply understand the “pillars” that underpin the American Family insurance brand, and to identify new product and service offerings—grounded in consumer unmet needs—that logically and credibly tie to these brand pillars. Our research helped flesh-out three brand pillars: protect, restore and inspire. Collectively, the three pillars formed the foundation for brand-inspired growth.

These brand-related findings were then combined with an exploration of unmet needs in American Family Insurance’s adjacency categories. The result was growth opportunities that represented both white space opportunities and a strong fit with one or more brand pillars. Specifically, we developed four growth platforms: Home Sweet Home, Protecting My Financial Wellbeing, Keeping Me Safe from Harm, and Dream Responsibly. Each platform consisted of three or four distinct yet related new product offerings, and each met minimum thresholds for revenue and profitability. Our final deliverable to the client was a comprehensive 5-year brand-driven growth roadmap.

The result was growth opportunities that represented both white space opportunities and a strong fit with one or more brand pillar. 
Prioritizing and launching new products

FullSurge formally presented its findings and recommendations to American Family Insurance. The recommended growth platforms were endorsed and prioritized for launch based on three criteria: 1) size of the opportunity, 2) complexity involved, and 3) speed to market. Together, the three platforms will simultaneously strengthen an already solid corporate brand and provide the business with outside-core-category transformational growth.

Partnering with FullSurge brought critical brand strategy and growth expertise to round out our internal team. The work was well regarded across the organization and helped us expand our thinking beyond our industry, thanks to the FullSurge team’s rich experience.
– Ann Norman
Director of Enterprise Brand Strategy

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