Note: this case study is presented to provide insight into my strategic understanding of the branding process, and includes tactics my staff + I had executed when we operated as a ‘full service agency.’ Today our focus is strategic: we collaborate with business owners, designers, creative teams + web developers; and formulate strategic Brand, business, and website structure which can be expanded + scaled. Your inquiry is welcome:
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When Bill Carew wandered into our then Marlborough offices in the mid-90s just as he + partner Brian Driscoll were looking to jump-start their 3 person healthcare + benefits consulting business, little did we envision that Carew and Driscoll Associates Inc. would someday rise to become a major independent national firm. But once we spent some time with Bill,
we knew it could be.
Addressing the metrics of employee benefits - qualitative + quantitative
A start-up faces many challenges; the first one here was to establish a credible Brand + position.
Identity: The first thing we did was to tighten-up the Brand name. Frankly, whenever I see ‘and Associates’ in any company name, my first instinct is always ‘a one or two person company trying to look bigger.’ But while the intent may be valid, the construction is archaic. So we ‘let them’ keep the name as a legal corporate entity, but the public Brand became: CarewDriscoll
Position: During a period a full employment, employees were coming to think of benefits as entitlements. And employers were spending a bundle on them, even if their value was thought as ‘squishy.’ CarewDriscoll became a pioneer in helping employers + employees alike fully understand the tangible effect + cost metrics of healthcare, and allied wellness + benefits programs.
An aligned product identity
Evolution: As the company grew it introduced new products, such as CareDelivery, a healthcare advocacy program. This prompted a second generation Brand name, which picked up the ‘CD’ dynamic of the product name.
CarewDriscoll - signaling growth
We also evolved the corporate ID to signal the firm’s growth + leadership – under which sub-Brand(s) were aligned.
Benefits are a powerful recruiting + retention tool for those known to have effective plans
Merger +Acquisition: CarewDriscoll a reached a point that suggested a merger with another benefits consulting firm (BenefitSource) would help it achieve critical mass needed to break into larger corporate clients.
The management team created a new name: Ovation Benefits Group. We also referenced +
reinforced the name within the context of employer Brands + the (benefits) values for which they were known.
Attaching leadership dynamics to the new Ovation Brand
Brand build-out: We created a number of leadership branding tactics to create a significant presence in its core markets, as well as to highlight core competencies + Brand vision.
A special seminar program to which municipals, under the gun to moderate benefits budgets, were provided with data upon which to base decisions
In addition, we created closely targeted direct mail programs to verticals, such as municipals, which became one of the company’s specialty niches.
The Brand today: When the firm moved to substantially larger offices its stakeholders decided a bold new identity was in order. It was also a change period (prior to the National Healthcare program) for healthcare benefits, which had left many thinking they’d lost all control of their programs, costs + options.
As leaders + agents of change, Ovation Benefits empowers it clients to take control of benefits plans
Ovation took a very aggressive + proactive stance – that indeed it was a change period, but they had strategies to work together with clients to help regain control of benefits + expenses. Always on the forefront of product trends, they had positioned their Brand + operations as being uniquely qualified to implement breakthrough products in the healthcare + wellness pipeline, including online subscriber (employee) resources.
Today Ovation Benefits Group is a consultancy of high repute, with a national market reach. They started an in-house marcomm capability to address day-to-day sales support. And when we last looked, they had established a presence in other markets, and their momentum was growing exponentially.
They are a force to be reckoned with. And knowing the category as we do, we suspect they too are likely in the sights of someone ready for their own M + A.
Success: Bill Carew will sometimes call me to say hello, as he’s driving past our offices with his family in the car, headed for their summer home in Maine on weekends + vacations.
Success comes in many forms.
Hope is a great gift you see in the faces of children + their parents. But it takes more than good intentions to realize its promise.