Listed on the London Stock Exchange since 1998, Novae Group plc is a Lloyd’s of London insurance syndicate with over 300 staff working out of offices in London and Bermuda. Our relationship with Novae began in 2010 when, as part of their recovery after a period of turbulence, they commissioned us to refresh their brand.
That initial challenge was two-fold. Firstly, to reflect the renewed sense of energy and focus in the business with an identity which would provide a confident platform for future growth. And secondly, to design an identity which would stand out in a crowded marketplace.
There’s always a temptation in brand refresh projects to jettison everything that has gone before and start from scratch; even moreso when a brand’s immediate past is less than glorious. However, we opted for a different approach and set out to find a solution which, far from ignoring Novae’s history, looked to leverage it as a point of strength. While insurance is essentially a future-focused industry, with brokers and underwriters working together to understand the likely occurrence and severity of a broad range of risk scenarios, a significant factor in assessing future risk is referencing past experience. As Winston Churchill famously said, “the farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Novae’s expertise, we concluded, lay in marrying the two – an assessment of future risk, informed by past experience – to deliver a present solution.
Or, as we expressed it: hindsight * insight * foresight.
Visualised in a neat ‘see-saw’ graphic, this thought underpinned the whole brand refresh. It was honest, distinctive and versatile, and appeared as both a headline thought on the refreshed website and a sign-off on corporate literature.
Another feature of the refresh was our collaboration with world-renowned paper sculptor Jeff Nishinaka. Together we created a series of large format paper sculptures which represented the classes of business Novae insured. The finished sculptures were photographed for use in online and offline communications, and then beautifully framed as part of an interior design solution which accompanied the corporate identity.
The initial brand refresh project was a great success, and our relationship with Novae continued. We moved from identity development to a range of marketing and brand building activities; as well as corporate communications and oversight of the website, we developed a corporate responsibility programme focused on numeracy among children of primary school age (‘Investing in the next generation’), and produced a number of corporate videos. We also undertook an industry-wide research project which culminated in a thought piece entitled ‘Looking Forward: insights from insurance leaders on the future of the industry’, which we launched at a breakfast reception held in the Old Library in Lloyd’s.
In the final moments of the 2012 results video, CEO Matthew Fosh declared that Novae’s journey was gathering pace and that “now is our time.” So it seemed – Novae’s share price, reputation and business confidence increased significantly. As they did, so the brand narrative evolved. It became less important to acknowledge past trials – even in a positive sense – and more important to focus on what lay ahead. In 2014 the hindsight * insight * foresight thought was replaced by the strapline ‘Looking Forward’ – taken from the title of the 2013 research piece – and an arrow device was introduced to house imagery and give a framework and consistency to corporate communications. As part of the refresh a perspective-led photographic style was chosen and the Novae website completely redesigned.
As we continue to work with Novae, ‘Looking Forward’ is proving fertile ground to explore. It’s an excellent platform for thought leadership and market insight; a platform we are putting to good use in the marketing of a number of classes of business, most notably the Cyber unit. It also conveys an underlying optimism which has informed CSR strategy. In collaboration with Novae’s staff body, we have partnered with two leading charities – the National Literacy Trust and ShelterBox – and developed a programme of CSR activities which is maximising impact and increasing engagement.
The Novae journey continues to gather pace. It’s great to travel with them.