Three new brands are using radical marketing techniques to challenge the domination of brokers. Philippa Emery assesses their impact

The battle for the insurance consumer is moving e-tailers into a head-to-head confrontation with brokers. These new kids on the block are high spending and eager to please.

In particular, their three new brands - esure, bluesure and More Th>n - characterise a radical approach to marketing insurance. They are selling a range of personal insurance products cheaper than brokers, reputedly, and they are directly engaging consumers. But the way they are beginning to talk to their prospective customers represents a significant departure from the traditional client relationship of brokers and insurance companies

The e-tailing marketers say this marketing style will have as big an impact on the industry as the entry of Direct Line in the 1980s. But the new companies aspire to something greater than cutting internal costs. They threaten to change the market share and domination of existing insurance companies and the broker's traditional role.

Now insurance companies have taken the opportunity to both rationalise multiple brands and make it easier for the consumer to choose.

Deliver or die
But will the spending on creating these new brands be enough to change entrenched behaviour, or to woo a disenchanted consumer? And crucially, will the lure of better service live up to the hype? For radical change to be a reality these new brands need depth, resonance and gravitas, and results have to come quickly.

The new services' success will rely on founding companies' ability to spend significantly in a bearish market, create widescale brand awareness and gain market share.

Investment levels will be critical to create a new market and new brands, especially when compared to competition like Direct Line which spends £20m a year on advertising to maintain brand position alone.

Success will depend on adequate investment in marketing to support the building of a new brand and the ability to deliver exceptional service and value for money to consumers.

Brokers, watch this space. n

u Philippa Emery is client services director, corporate branding, Springpoint

Campaign analysis

Peter Wood (Direct Line founder)
backed by Halifax.

STRATERGY: To build esure into the top internet-based insurance brand. The brand positioning is as a direct insurance business, telephone and online, with HBOS backing.

Esure now offers, by phased launches: motor insurance and home insurance with travel. Others are set to follow.

ANALYSIS: The name has inherent meaning - online and suggestive of insurance. It's simple and straightforward; intrinsically `safe' if not inspiring. The visual identity is friendly and memorable and modern. The symbol supports the name and easy proposition.

Both the website and advertisements use the endline "Don't get mad, get esure". The animated television advertisements, using the pictogram of the identity symbol, show neighbourhood scenes highlighting the difference between careless and reckless homeowners. The advertisements are unusual in concept and have prompted a 58% recall in consumer tests.

Success rating: The market considers the HBOS merger between Halifax and Bank of Scotland to be a winner. Peter Wood's experience and reputation will add a potential success quotient to the proposition.

Backed by GE Frankona Re, the European reinsurance arm of GE Insurance Holdings and the Benfield Group.

Strategy: To communicate a focused clear proposition designed to be radical and to turn the industry on its head. Ironically, given the existence of esure, bluesure sees itself as the natural successor to Direct Line.

ANALYSIS: The brand positioning is as a ground breaking scheme offering consumers a range of eight personal insurance products (including home, car, health and holidays, with pet and dental to be added) combined under one policy. Bluesure claims to have slashed the price of medical insurance by 40%.

The name is a bit obscure (probably a consequence of needing to secure the dotcom address), but is part of the genre of modern internet branding. The use of blue in the name drives the use of blue in the campaign advertising, which uses objects covered in blue paint; simple and stylish... with a wacky end delivery. The advertisements and the use of the blue, aim to be the equivalent of Direct Line's red telephone but do not have the same direct symbolism.

SUCCESS rating: Too early to judge but backed by two big names. The ability of the top management to put money where the corporate `mouth' is will be critical.

More Th>n
Royal & SunAlliance

STRATEGY: To redefine an existing business and launch a contemporary, innovative and customer-focused brand, that will have potential appeal to younger target audiences.

ANALYSIS: The brand positioning and ambition is as the best direct provider of consumer solutions for health, wealth, lifestyle and assets. The package includes car, life, home, travel, investment, health, pet insurance and savings. `Bricks and clicks' delivery allows the consumer to choose how it wants to do business.

The name is catchy, a campaignable idea. The trade off is between accessibility and gravitas. More Th>n doesn't sound like a brand... perhaps this is the point.

The visual identity design is quiet and understated. Visual interest is in the symbol `>`, which is a clever idea, but maybe one which would fly over the heads of the average consumer?.

The Where's Lucky? teaser campaign (aimed at pet owners?) achieved recognition and good recall. It has provoked a controversial response. Members of the public were duped into genuinely believing that Lucky was a real lost dog. As a result, the Advertising Standards Authority asked the company to ensure that all future advertising would include full company details and clear branding.

The campaign was, however, reckoned to be arresting and mischievous and the media buying, imaginative. On these subjective judgments, the launch and communications appear to have been successful.

Success rating: It's too early for a more qualified and quantified success rating. We need to judge in terms of market penetration and share. The wider criterion for judgment will be More Th>n's performance as a catalyst for influencing perceptions of Royal & SunAlliance itself.