Peter Markey
Aviva
Brand Communications and Marketing Director

Insurance companies don’t come much bigger than Aviva. The company provides life insurance, general insurance, health insurance and asset management to 33 million customers across 16 markets worldwide.

So perhaps the greatest issue for a brand of Aviva’s size and scale is managing how it’s perceived by its audience, and how to avoid being seen as an nebulous corporate entity.

“It’s our job to show consumers we are not faceless,” says Pete Markey, Director of Brand Communications and Marketing. “We don’t describe ourselves internally as a human brand, it’s not the language we’d use, but we realise as a brand we do need to have a human face.”

Pete says the biggest challenge for any human brand in financial services is not allowing there to be any gaps in the brand between promise and experience. “Our goal is to create brand unity between what we say and how we behave.” Aviva keeps on top of brand unity across the organisation by constantly measuring customer satisfaction and by following the Net Promoter Score.

While some brands see digital getting in the way of being human, Pete sees Aviva’s digital presence as an opportunity, giving the customer further options for how to interact with the brand. The audience is treated in different ways depending on need. Some customers want to talk to someone on the phone, especially when making a claim, yet others prefer to engage with Aviva through digital touchpoints.

“The thing about digital is that you can make it human. Digital interactions such as live web chat and interactive FAQs can work really well. It’s about getting the mix right,” says Pete.

So how does a brand as vast as Aviva stay human? “We ask ourselves, what matters to the customer?” The organisation conducts user experience testing and listens to what comes back. Because its digital offering can be more agile, and is more open to experimentation, Aviva can constantly monitor, test and adapt the user experience to improve the way the customer interacts with it.

Regardless of the platform a customer uses, be it phone or online, the health of an organisation such as Aviva relies on the quality of its people internally. “We have to remember a brand is made up of people and culture, and a strong brand with good people is a human one.”

When it comes to hiring, Aviva has a good reputation as an employer. Pete says they are lucky being able to attract great talent and hire people who demonstrate their values. “We align the hiring process to the brand. But of course it’s not only about hiring on attitude; in this industry we also need that specialised technical

know-how about insurance.”

The brand encourages its people to come up with ideas to stay close to the customer. Every year Aviva runs the Customer Cup, an internal competition where employees think of ideas for improvement in customer service. It’s part of the ‘Good Thinking’ brand strategy which runs throughout the organisation. ‘Good Thinking’ is designed to reflect Aviva’s focus on creating simple, innovative solutions to make life easier for its customers. “It’s lived and breathed from the top all the way down. From how we handle claims to how we market our brand, we are led by that sense of purpose.”

Tips for being more human

  • Enterprise brands will never be able to replicate the agility of startups, but being thorough and diligent at doing things right is just as human.
  • The best ideas come from empowered people. 
  • The brand promise isn’t just a marketing exercise, it should be the foundation of everything you do, from people to customers. 
  • Digital shouldn’t be a denial of access to people, rather an enhanced customer experience.

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