Royal London is a 150-year-old financial services brand that nobody has ever heard of. It knows this because prior to the launch of the first major brand campaign in its history, Royal London polled consumers on spontaneous awareness: it stood at less than one per cent. (Prompted brand awareness was 33 per cent.)
It was not that they were unaware of its products, but Royal London traditionally communicated direct to consumers and intermediaries via sub-brands, such as Scottish Life and Bright Grey. The parent brand’s lack of visibility was holding back potential growth and had to be addressed. In short, it had to make a name for itself.
The decision was taken to replace every sub-brand with a single Royal London identity, which could put in jeopardy customer trust but also meant that a strong and compelling story had to be created that distinguished the business from other financial services organisations.
Working with agency VCCP, Royal London sought to explain that it was old, operated as a mutual organisation and had a loyal customer base. Qualitative research demonstrated that they liked its old school commitment to enduring values, and saw it as a strong and dependable provider of financial service products.
But that was viewed as a dull story to sell. Instead, VCCP and Royal London decided to ‘relaunch’ as a ‘new 150-year-old brand’. Royal London would tell its story around its values – beliefs that have never gone out of fashion – while behaving like the freshest face in finance.
The campaign was called We’re so yesterday. It launched with a series of television adverts, which highlighted the products on offer, and finished with a singing lute player, who said Even if you live nowadays, Royal London will treat you with the values of the past. This was supported by outdoor and print adverts, with the messages Through good financial times, And bad financial times, We’ve served our customers with our old-fashioned values at all times.
A mix of black and white print adverts also highlighted how each individual sub-brand was changing its name to Royal London, with the message Underneath we’re still the same. All the imagery used had a vintage feel.
A four-year deal was signed with the England and Wales Cricket Board to sponsor one day internationals while Royal London also sponsored weather bulletins. A new website, customer communications and internal campaign further delivered the new brand.
Today, three years after the rebrand, the integrated campaign is bearing fruit, boosted by a novel ‘ProfitShare’ pension scheme that allows qualifying customers to share in the success of the company. Prompted brand awareness has risen by 13.4 per cent while sales, both through intermediaries and direct to customers, have also risen strongly.
The campaign has also had a significant commercial impact: new business across life and pensions has grown from £3.1 billion in 2013 to £6.8 billion in 2015. Today, Royal London manages funds worth more than £100 billion for the first time in its history.
‘This was a smart entry, with a strong theme,’ said the judges. ‘It was big and bold, and achieved great results.’