|By Boone, Elisabeth|
These days, creating a corporate brand is all the rage. Self-styled branding specialists claim they can build a positive, powerful brand for just about any business-and some of them charge big bucks to do so.
For the do-it-yourself business owner, bookstores and the Internet are crammed with titles about branding that range in quality from practical and effective to "who wrote this junk?"
A successful brand is one that communicates the clear, powerful thoughts you want people to have about your business.
That was the goal of the principals of
"Over the years we have grown through acquisitions, and until recently we maintained the identity of each company we acquired," explains
To bring order out of confusion, Norman-
Growing and changing
"Over the last five years, Norman-
"These are all valuable attributes, and we didn't want to just flip a switch and change names and market these brands in a completely different way, for fear of losing a lot of the value that we purchased in the acquisition," Malone says.
"Over time, however, we realized that the cost of continuing to market and maintain a large number of different brand identities was becoming significant. It was becoming difficult to achieve economies of scale, and to explain to an agent: 'Yes, you've always known us as the
Adds Wolf, "The current focus of our branding effort is to talk with our agents about everything we do and show them the many opportunities we have to work together. Throughout 2012, we will be communicating with all of our agents, telling them about all of our programs and how we can help them write more business."
Gaining an edge
Given the depth and breadth of expertise represented by the numerous affiliates of Norman-
"We believe that what differentiates Norman-
"One of the reasons we're placing so much emphasis in 2012 on communicating the Norman-Spencer brand is the large number of products we are either introducing or expanding in the first quarter of 2012," Brian explains.
The boat/yacht program is expanding from 12 to 50 states, and the real estate E&O program is expanding from three to more than 30 states. Norman-
Construction takes a hit
When the housing bubble burst in 2006, followed by the financial meltdown in 2008, one of the hardest hit industries was construction. Financing dried up, and projects on the drawing board were scrapped for lack of funding. Housing starts ground to a halt, and commercial construction likewise collapsed. Many costly projects were abandoned in mid-construction when financing dried up.
Many of Norman-
"As you can imagine, the poor economy and the harsh impact on the construction and manufacturing industries took a big toll on our insureds and us," says
"We naturally saw some decrease in our writings, simply as a result of retaining accounts and seeing premium levels go down," George remarks. "We also were having to adjust our offerings to accommodate what the contractors were going through to keep themselves afloat."
Adds George: "As our clients and prospects made adjustments in their operations, like residential builders moving to commercial construction, we made adjustments in our programs. For instance, if a particular concrete contractor needed to make adjustments in its operations, we would change our underwriting guidelines and eligibility requirements accordingly."
"In helping our clients weather the recession,"
Sounding an optimistic note,
Like the construction industry, marine risks have taken a big hit during the recession, says
Working with retailers
As noted earlier, Norman-
"We look for people who want to partner with us," says
The same holds true in Norman-
A look ahead
Even as the property/casualty market shows some signs of firming and the economy begins a slow recovery, many challenges remain for the property/casualty business: insurers, intermediaries, retail agents, and clients. At Norman-
"Our producers talk with their retail agents and train them on any risk they present," Wolf says. "For example, a retailer may want coverage for a crane risk, and he also may need coverage for a boat. That gives us the opportunity to explain that we have a strong marine division and can arrange coverage for the boat as well as the crane."
Adds Rose: "Norman-
Bright people, top products, and flexibility are proving to be winning ingredients in Norman-
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