Building awareness and credibility for a new brand
Mountain Health CO-OP came to life as an offshoot of Montana Health CO-OP, an insurance CO-OP that sold its first policies to Montanans in 2013 and went on to capture a sizable chunk of the health insurance market there. This success earned them an invitation from the federal government to expand into Idaho in 2014. MHC selected Oliver Russell to help them launch the new Mountain Health CO-OP brand in Idaho.
In the age of 24/7 marketing, making a dent in people’s consciousness with a new brand is never easy. But because this brand was health insurance, raising awareness alone wasn’t enough. There was also a strong imperative to build credibility quickly. Early on, we recognized an opportunity to upgrade Montana Health CO-OP’s existing branding and refashion it for Idaho.
Redesigning the brand from the ground up
Using our brand identity development process, we created a new brand story, values, personality, tagline, and manifesto for both Idaho and Montana, while visually simplifying the parent company’s existing brand identity. Through mood boards, we developed a look that captured their brand values and personality with a laid-back, local feel. Instead of the usual polished stock photos common in health insurance marketing, we drew from the Instagram accounts of friends and family to provide imagery with an air of reality.
Building a strong, easy to use website
Most people research insurance choices online, so a strong website is critical. We created the new Idaho and Montana sites from scratch, using responsive design to improve usability across all devices while reducing the number of choices that confront (and often confound) users on the homepage. In keeping with their member-driven approach, a photo contest promoted on the site has generated scores of submissions from MHC members that we are using to update the site and other marketing materials, saving the CO-OP thousands in photography fees.
Simplifying and consolidating printed sales lit
Rather than creating individual brochures for every plan MHC sells, we designed a single printed piece that folds out into a poster that lets readers compare all of MHC’s plans side by side, in a single view, saving everyone time and trees.
Creating a cohesive campaign across broadcast and outdoor media
To generate awareness, we created ads for TV, radio and outdoor that focused on the unique CO-OP approach to health insurance: member-run, with profits used to lower premiums and expand benefits. To avoid confusion, we kept the concepts relatively simple and easy to understand, and featured real people from the community.
The result: MHC more than triples its membership
The final tally is still being counted, but the results are already strong. In just its first year, Mountain Health CO-OP enrolled more than 20,000 members, earning the second highest market share among five other established competitors. In Montana in year two, enrollment is up north of 70% to more than 24,000 and counting, with their cost of customer acquisition down my more than half.
Some things we learned along the way:
- No matter how simple you think you’ve made web content, it’s probably still not simple enough when it comes to health insurance. Based on user feedback, we’ll be redesigning a page or two on the MHC websites to make them absolutely foolproof.
- Nothing can help localize a campaign and add human interest like user-generated content. If you ask nicely (and offer a new iPad as an incentive), your customers are more than willing to share their personal images and videos.
- The medium is still the message. Yes, people have misgivings about some of the commercials they view on TV, but the simple fact that you are on TV says a lot about your organization, especially when you’re new to the market.
- Responsive design is critical for health insurance websites. More than 20% of MHC websites’ traffic came from mobile devices, including a disproportionate share of new visits. If your insurance website is hard to use on a phone or tablet, you’re missing a critical opportunity.
Supporting an important player in health insurance
CO-OPs like MHC are providing critical competition in markets where little existed before. Their low-cost, low-overhead model is helping to keep premium annual hikes at record-low levels, making insurance more affordable for everyone. Last year, Idaho and Montana led the nation in reducing their percentages of uninsured residents, and that's something every can feel good about.