With 19,000 agents across the country and a deep heritage of mutuality, State Farm, one of America’s largest insurance companies, has always been about human connection, protecting people and doing the right thing.
But with shifting customer needs and new category entrants, the State Farm voice started to get lost in the crowded competitive landscape. And as the company’s offer and business continued to develop to support an omnichannel future, it had to evolve its brand to create better customer experiences across its ecosystem.
Brand consultancy Wolff Olins worked with State Farm to lean into its distinct brand DNA – the ovals, the colour red, and the ‘Like A Good Neighbor’ jingle – and worked to bring them deeper meaning.
Wolff Olins global principal Amanda Munilla and Clinton Inselmann, group creative director and lead of the brand design and management team within State Farm Marketing, reflect on the work with us.
Q> What was the impetus for undertaking a major brand evolution at State Farm in 2019 and 2020? Why now?
Clinton> In a world that’s rapidly changing, it’s important our brand – the way we express to the world what State Farm stands for – remains relevant and keeps pace with customer expectations. Our goal is to do all that we can to make our brand memorable, so we stay top of mind and fuel growth for State Farm.
Q> The State Farm organisation and brand have such a storied legacy. Were there things that were important to keep intact or to not lose when modernizing such an iconic brand?
Clinton> The State Farm brand is more than just a logo or a commercial on TV. Our brand is shaped by the sum total of experiences we create together every day. So, this new identity system is a set of unifying principles designed to scale our creative expression across every experience and empower us all as brand owners.
Visually, there is an emphasis on our ovals – which remain a strong, consumer-tested asset to our brand recognition. Ovals will be used to put a spotlight on the future customers want to see. Ovals also provide a distinct element to our new custom typeface, with a tilted oval dotting the letter ‘i’ and embedded in the lower-case ‘a’.
Colour-wise, there is a slightly warmer shade of red and new, secondary khaki, gold and green colours – inspired by our heritage and developed to uniquely distinguish State Farm from other brands with similar colours.
Amanda> One of our team’s favourite parts of the process was getting to really dig into the history of State Farm as an organisation and a brand. We spent time on site with State Farm’s archivist really understanding the most meaningful parts of the State Farm story. From there our strategists and designers were able to articulate how State Farm could communicate that value more clearly - from how the ovals are used to tell new customer stories to how the colour palette is amplified for more seamless digital experiences.
Q> State Farm was able to distinguish itself as a brand in 2020 in the context of a pandemic and a lot of difficult circumstances. What was State Farm uniquely able to do as a business and brand in 2020?
Clinton> In 2020 we modernised an almost 100-year-old iconic brand through our brand refresh and the return of Jake from State Farm. In response to the pandemic, we demonstrated unprecedented agility; our marketing team never stopped adjusting, innovating and seizing new opportunities. Our business results prove we had our best year ever, and our advertising and marketing is a major contributing factor. We grew and were helping more people in more ways.
Q> What did the new brand identity set out to communicate? What kind of stories and experiences does the State Farm brand want to deliver today and into the future?
Clinton> Our goal is to convey a feeling of calming reassurance that insurance should provide and create the most empathetic experience for customers whenever they engage with State Farm.
Q> We understand that this brand evolution was an effort across the brand marketing, design and UX teams at State Farm. What other opportunities do you see from that more integrated way of working?
Clinton> Co-creating our new identity system was just the beginning. The implementation, actually bringing it to life in the real world is where we prove that the way we work together has evolved as well. It’s important to remind ourselves that brand principles, guidelines and standards aren’t self-sustaining– they require consistent and meaningful collaboration. Our immediate opportunity is to simply keep scaling this integrated design methodology– the results speak for themselves.
Amanda> One of the things that made this brand evolution successful from the Wolff Olins side is how we were able to tap into a cross-functional State Farm team across marketing and UX - working with practitioners that have purview into all parts of the business and customer experience. That meant we were able to make a more meaningful shift with the brand.
Q> What’s your favourite aspect of the evolved State Farm brand?
Clinton> By far my favourite aspect is the authenticity. Often brands use this type of initiative to change or reinvent themselves, but we were careful to stay true to who we are. The term ‘evolution’ was very intentional for our process. We didn’t run from our brand, we embraced all of its incredible history and powerful equity and leveraged it. I couldn’t be prouder of what we created, because I know it’s authentically State Farm.
Amanda> I agree with Clinton on authenticity. Early in our immersion we saw what an authentically warm and people-centric company State Farm was and so it was clear that spirit needed to be captured in the way the brand was experienced across the visual, verbal and sonic identity. The insurance category in the US can lean into brand communications that feel somewhat gimmicky, but State Farm for us at Wolff Olins is a brand able to tell a more human story about what being a good neighbour really means.