Branding is a waste of time, according to Biba chairman Mike Williams.

Speaking at Strategy 2002, Williams argued that improving the customer's experience was more important than branding. He said that issues such as claims service and the perceived value of insurance products needed to be addressed.

But others disagreed, arguing that strong branding was essential to resolving a number of the industry's problem.

Insurance marketing company Tactix managing partner Tim Cadel said that branding was needed to overcome the issue of product commoditisation.

"Companies need to find ways to get customers to come to them. You have to stand out and be different."

Touchdown Integrated Marketing chairman John Finan commented: "In difficult times, people gravitate towards well known brands."

And Crawford senior vice president of business solutions Jonathan Clark argued that branding was one way of resolving the trust issues that surround the industry.

"Trust is about delivering promises. Tesco, for instance, has created a brand around operational efficiency."