Encourage Courage: 5 Questions With Hiscox CMO Russ Findlay



International specialist insurer Hiscox recently announced the launch of its I’mpossible campaign, an extension of its award-winning Encourage Courage brand platform. The campaign focuses on the positive power of risk-taking to transform the seemingly impossible into something possible.

Capturing heroic stories from their customers aligns with the Encourage Courage platform that launched in 2014. Hiscox is moving away from the fear-based marketing approach commonly used by insurance companies, choosing instead to make heroes of those who have faced new obstacles, whether that’s starting a business or overcoming tragedy.

Russ Findlay - Hiscox CMOWe spoke to Hiscox Chief Marketing Officer Russ Findlay (right) about the campaign and how the insurer is adapting to meet customers’ ever-changing demands.

How does the Encourage Courage brand platform and its extension, I’mpossible, present and extend Hiscox’s brand in the financial services marketplace?

I’ve encouraged everyone to put “Encourage Courage” at the center of how we think. It’s more than our tagline—it’s our lifeline, our true North. So when we look at ourselves relative to the rest of the insurance market, we tend to say we’re in it, not of it—meaning that we don’t see ourselves as a traditional insurance carrier, we tend to seek out opportunities that others may have missed, that they may think are too small, complex, or risky to try out.

So when we launched Encourage Courage three years ago, it really resonated with our core target audience of small business owners, and it resonated incredibly well internally—and the “I’mpossible” extension of the Encourage Courage brand platform is another way of bringing it to life. It’s personalized a little bit more, tells that story through our small business insurers, but it is a unique way of storytelling for us that has also worked incredibly well.

What went into Hiscox’s decision to explicitly move away from the fear-based marketing common within the insurance sector?

The good news for us is that we never sold on fear to begin with, so we never had a campaign that we needed to pivot away from. When we came to America 10 years ago, we wanted to bring our business to life In a way that is completely authentic and that would resonate. We looked at maybe six different positioning routes at the time, but the one that stuck was: We don’t fear taking a risk, we fear not taking a risk.

It’s about celebrating the positive power of risk, not trying to scare you into investing in insurance. Fear is a short-term motivator, so trying to build any kind of loyalty and positivity is hampered by that type of positioning. We’re using the entire weight of an industry’s positioning and advertising against themselves to be something different and unique. I think given our culture and heritage, it was an ownable and distinctive place for us to be.

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How did you find the client stories you share in the I’mpossible campaign?

I think you’d be surprised—there is courage everywhere, and there are great stories that are out there waiting to be to be told. In most instances, in a small way, everyone is battling something and overcoming an obstacle.

We had a woman who is in our print ads who, right before she could open her business, the entire building was consumed by fire. She could have turned tail and ran back home, but stayed there and made the most of it, and kept chasing her dream. I think that for us, the process is about casting a really wide net and trying to find people who represent the same commitment to courage we have. And, believe it or not, they’re not that hard to find.

What different kinds of content and formats went into this campaign?

So we’ve got a good mix of podcasting, white papers, print ads, digital ads, and more. We were an early adopter in the podcast space. We’ve been doing it now for probably three years. We do a lot with print and a lot with digital—for us the two go hand-in-hand for brand awareness. We’ve done we’ve done various types of radio, both terrestrial radio and digital radio. We do various types of video, from short-form explainers to branded video. We’ve done a six-part video content series where we talk about courageous behavior in various industries. So it does range the gamut. We’ve done geolocation, out-of-home, some TV though not really that much. It’s all very specific, and it really depends on what we’re trying to go after and what tool is right for what objective.

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How are insurance customer’s expectations changing from their providers, and how is Hiscox evolving to meet those changes?

One of the big things we’re responding to are the changing expectations from consumers to be able to buy insurance for their small business insurance directly, without even talking to a human being. Unlike almost every insurance carrier on the planet, we don’t refer them to an agent. So as people become more and more consumer-savvy, not just in the insurance industry but everywhere, brick and mortar retail is imploding.

People don’t want to leave their houses, they want to be in control. We’ve been selling insurance direct-to-consumer for almost 10 years in the U.S., and we opened up doing it back in the U.K. about 10 years before that. We’ve listened to the consumers, found their pain points, and are serving an under-served market. This is the heart of it, listening to what they need or where they have pain points and responding accordingly.

For 20 years we’ve been using technology to allow consumers to buy our product. The next step making that easier and simpler, and using technology to make that happen plus also get our message out. We will continue the Encourage Courage platform—whether it’s the I’mpossible extension or something else, it’ll all be centered around Encourage Courage.

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