When ING U.S. was rebranded as Voya Financial in the spring of 2014, the company launched a massive, well-orchestrated marketing campaign to reach all its stakeholders, from customers and distributors to employees. While newer media channels such as digital, mobile, search, and social successfully positioned Voya as a “retirement company” in a crowded financial services marketplace, some time-tested marketing basics were revisited to ensure the rebranding was executed as effectively and cost efficiently as possible.
“We refined our positioning, gathered additional customer knowledge, and conducted work to better understand the effect of different marketing levers on brand KPIs and ROI,” says Ann Glover, chief marketing officer at Voya. “We developed a thoughtful plan and followed it carefully. One of our operating principles was to make sure we did not disrupt our stakeholders, or lose a single day of business as a result of the transition. We took an ‘inside-out’ communication approach, informing our employees first, and then business partners and customers.”
Glover, who will speak at the ANA Brand Masters Conference, Feb. 3 - 5 in Hollywood, Fla., provides more insight on the rebrand.
Q. What valuable lessons did you learn during the rebrand that will serve the marketing organization/business well moving forward?
A. Marketing is an investment in your identity as a company. Consistency is especially important when you need to market your products to multiple audiences who require customized messaging and materials. In going through our rebranding journey, we set a list of priorities to guide our company and its 6,500 employees. These would apply generally to our marketing organization moving forward:
Q. How have you maintained positive momentum from the rebrand?
A. The foundation we’ve set is being used with our agency partners to keep the momentum of the rebranding moving forward. One of the biggest things the rebranding taught us was just how much we could accomplish if we worked together as one team across the enterprise. This was true both within our company and with respect to our external business partners. The magnitude of the rebranding required that we work very collaboratively, and in a very integrated manner, with our agencies.
Q. As a proponent of integrated marketing, how do you ensure that you reach the right audience with the right message across channels?
A. Today, consumers expect that any company they do business with has multiple channels for engagement. Our customers compare their experience with Voya to their best experiences across any channel. It is not enough to provide the best financial services customer experience; we need to provide the best overall customer experience, regardless of category. Our goal is to help all working Americans get financially organized today in order to live comfortably tomorrow, and that starts with an easy-to-understand consumer experience across all channels — in person, over the phone, on the web, or through mobile.
To help target and tailor our messages to our key audience types, we are doing some exciting work, by customer type, around customer decision journeys. For example, why do you decide to enroll in your employer’s retirement plan, or not? How do you decide how much to contribute to your retirement plan? This sets us up to develop and deliver more effective messages to individuals when, where, and how they’d be most receptive to receiving them.
Q. Have social and mobile media, in particular, changed the way you connect with consumers and business partners?
A. Social and mobile media play a huge role in communicating our new brand. They provide ways to amplify and reinforce the efforts of more broad-reaching channels. We help people think differently about retirement, so we use these newer media channels to tell that story in an engaging and authentic way. Social media also provides a forum for consumers to communicate with us. By listening to our customers, we can improve the quality of the experience we provide as well as our product and service offerings.
One example of our targeted social media strategy is our Facebook Live Q&A series. Voya hosts periodic one-hour online forums, where our 205,000-plus Facebook followers are able to get retirement and personal finance questions answered by Voya financial professionals. Each Q&A is devoted to a specific topic or theme. These forums allow us to interact in real time, in a personalized manner, with our social media audience, and they provide our followers with information to help guide their retirement strategy.
Q. As a former senior marketer at PepsiCo, do you feel marketing in a highly regulated industry like financial services requires a different mindset and approach? What are some of the commonalities?
A. Marketing in a highly regulated industry requires the willingness and ability to navigate through some real challenges that might not exist in other spaces. These include a longer product purchase cycle, an ambiguous connection between marketing activities undertaken today and an ultimate purchase, and a limited, but increasing, amount of data with which to make decisions. At the end of the day, there are commonalities that exist across all effective marketing: a benefit-focused brand positioning, the clear articulation of a meaningful point of difference versus competitors, and the creativity and courage to break through the clutter and be recognized.