The rebranding of ING U.S. to Voya Financial and the introduction of Brighthouse Financial are two examples of measurably successful marketing campaigns. Despite their unique circumstances and goals, both advertising programs leveraged targeted messaging to specific customer groups and an omnichannel approach to build brand awareness and establish a differentiated brand identity. Meanwhile, a diverse array of marketing materials, executive interviews and expert analyses from the timeframes surrounding these two rebranding efforts have been synthesized below to provide the most robust context possible for these two case studies.
Table of Contents
ING U.S. to Voya Financial
- The rebranding of ING Group’s US division (ING U.S.) to Voya Financial was “long in the making,” per Voya Financial Chief Marketing Officer Ann Glover.
- Notably, the changeover was conceived as early as 2013, following the initial public offering of ING U.S. in May of that year.
- Approximately one year later, the multistage rebranding process of ING U.S. to Voya Financial was launched alongside a series of key transitions:
- April 7, 2014: ING U.S. officially became Voya Financial
- April 2014: ING U.S. Foundation rebranded as the Voya Foundation
- May 1, 2014: ING U.S. Investment Management transitioned to Voya Investment Management
- May 2014: ING U.S. Employee Benefits rebranded to Voya Financial
- September 1, 2014: All remaining ING U.S. businesses and legal entities changed to the Voya Financial brand.
- Immediately following this last transition in September 2014, Voya Financial launched a “massive, well-orchestrated marketing campaign.”
- Although this rebranding campaign was originally presented as a year-long effort, Voya Financial SVP of Brand and Corporate Communications Paul Gennaro subsequently highlighted that the company’s rebranding efforts carried well into 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Rebrand Positioning / Strategy
- According to Mr. Gennaro, the “primary goals” of Voya Financial’s rebranding campaign were “name recognition and awareness.”
- Voya Financial Chief Marketing Officer Ann Glover added that achieving these goals was particularly challenging, given the need to transition 73 legal entities to a new name in a “way that didn’t lose any business,” which included a “broad audience” of employees, customers, financial advisers, distributors and public markets.
- Ultimately, Ms. Glover asserts that Voya Financial successfully navigated these challenges with a strategy of reaching out to individual audiences, each with their own “carefully timed marketing campaigns.”
- To execute this strategy, the company “refined our positioning, gathered additional customer knowledge, and conducted work to better understand the effect of different marketing levers on brand KPIs and ROI.”
- Among other insights, this led Voya Financial to execute an “inside-out communication approach,” wherein employees were contacted first, followed by business partners and customers.
- In conjunction, Voya Financial looked to position itself through its introductory rebranding efforts as a “company that is changing the way that Americans think about retirement,” according to Mr. Gennaro.
- Specifically, through its new namesake Voya, the company wanted to position itself as a company with “momentum, optimism and a view toward the future.”
- Ms. Glover added that Voya Financial “invested significant time and resources into the name change,” including stakeholder polling, considering over 5,000 name suggestions, screening potential names by marketing partners and filtering for legal considerations.
Rebrand Channels, Activities & Messaging
- This multifaceted rebrand positioning/strategy was executed through two primary advertising efforts: operational rebranding activities and brand promotion.
- Per Voya Financial’s Chief Marketing Officer, the company allocated $50 million for operational rebranding efforts such as “changing over signs, renaming client marketing materials and legal entity filings.”
- Meanwhile, promotional activities centered around a “comprehensive” six-month marketing campaign that was intended to reach all stakeholders through messaging across “television, digital, mobile, search, social media and trade advertising.”
- Discrete examples of Voya Financial’s promotional activities (and associated messaging, where available), include the following:
- The “Orange Money” television commercial that ran from September through November 2014, which was featured across network and cable media and highlighted a “caterpillar transforming into a butterfly with orange dollar wings, representing ING’s metamorphosis to Voya.”
- A new website, featuring a “bright color pallet” that included the “signature orange” for which ING U.S. was known in the states.
- The release of Sponsored Content and Display Ads, including targeted messaging through platforms such as LinkedIn. Associated graphics and messaging examples are highlighted below.
- The launch of a Facebook Live Q&A series, wherein Voya Financial hosted one-hour online forums on specific topics and addressed the questions posed by its over 200,000 Facebook followers.
- Other broadcast, digital, social media and non-traditional advertising initiatives such as the subsequent Orange House Sweepstakes.
- Notably, Voya Financial gave special consideration across these mass marketing strategies to carefully manage the transition of customers from one brand to the next (e.g., through hosting two Company Pages during the transition) as well as execute tailored messages to audiences while considering their specific “customer decision journeys.”
- Voya Financial’s Mr. Gennaro asserts that the company’s rebranding efforts were highly successful in improving brand perception with customers.
- Notably, rebranding activities reached more than 13 million customers, 220,000 points of distribution and 7,000 employees nationwide.
- In particular, they significantly improved brand awareness and consideration, as exemplified by the results from Voya Financial’s LinkedIn campaign:
- “More than 2X increase of brand consideration among target audience (age 45-65) exposed to the ads
- 12 point increase in aided brand awareness among target audience exposed to the ads
- CTR for Display Ads as high as 1.76%
- 2X Company Page Follower growth”
- Additionally, the rebranding campaign “outperformed modeled expectations” from a brand positioning perspective, given that “more than half of the people who know Voya as a brand recognize that we are a company that serves the retirement market,” according to Mr. Gennaro.
- Similarly, MarketingDaily asserts that the company’s omnichannel marketing approach “successfully positioned Voya as a retirement company in a crowded financial services marketplace.”
MetLife to Brighthouse Financial
- The rebranding campaign for Brighthouse Financial was ultimately an “introduction” effort for the brand, given that Brighthouse Financial was a newly created entity at the time of the marketing effort.
- Specifically, MetLife announced on July 21, 2016 that it intended to spin off a portion of its business under the name Brighthouse Financial.
- Assuming MetLife’s insurance sales through financial professionals, Brighthouse Financial began selling annuity and life insurance policies under its new namesake on March 6, 2017.
- Ultimately, Brighthouse Financial completed its separation from MetLife on August 4, 2017, around which time the company launched an associated marketing effort that ran from 2017 well into 2018.
Rebrand Positioning / Strategy
- Although there is limited information in the public domain related to Brighthouse Financial’s rebrand positioning and strategy, available resources indicate that Brighthouse Financial’s goal for its rebranding efforts was to “drive awareness and familiarity with its brand among its target audience.”
- In particular, Brighthouse Financial Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Quale commented that the company was looking to “prove our promise and demonstrate what our products can do.”
- In order to achieve this outcome, the company crafted messaging specifically for its target customers, who Mr. Quale described as “secure seniors” or “people like the baby-boomers who are optimistically defining their visions for modern retirement.”
- Specifically, Brighthouse Financial found that its products were a “really serious topic for people” in its ideal audience, and therefore opted to avoid humor or messaging involving “crazy stuff.”
- In lieu of such strategies, the company used “an emotional appeal” to build relationships with these consumers, positioning itself as a reliable but relatable financial partner.
- In particular, Brighthouse Financial reached out to customers by highlighting the “emotional side to the brand” while also “providing positive and practical value by educating current and potential customers.”
Rebrand Channels, Activities & Messaging
- Available information indicates that Brighthouse Financial leveraged an omnichannel approach for its brand introduction, which primarily leveraged television and social media advertising but also included print, email and direct marketing.
- On television, the company’s video advertising highlighted “consumers exploring their passions in the comfort of financial security.”
- Examples of these broadcast ads and associated messaging are available at the following links: The Vineyard is available here, The Market is available here.
- In parallel, Brighthouse Financial’s campaigns on social media paired educational videos that explained the benefits of annuities with “more emotionally appealing” content such as children giving advice to their grandparents.
- The company also used more immersive experiences such as Facebook’s Instant Experiences for its follow-up communications with potential customers.
- Meanwhile, Brighthouse Financial advertising partner BBH NY asserts that the financial institution’s brand introduction was “highly successful” with consumers.
- Although there is limited data to substantiate this assertion, evidence from the company’s rebranding campaign on Facebook indicates that the marketing efforts through this channel “considerably raised its brand recognition.“
- For example, Brighthouse Financial enjoyed a 22-point lift in brand awareness among those 65 years and older as well as a 10-point lift overall through its Facebook rebranding campaign.