With the creation of our newly formed Relation Select group and the opportunities it represents for our company, we needed an operating team to lead this new venture. Our recent acquisitions of former Nationwide-exclusive agents/agencies not only provided a strong roster of producers, they also brought us several proven professionals who are ideally suited for this role. As a result, we are pleased to announce the operational leadership team for Relation Select.
Named to the team were Katy Ringeman, Chief Operating Officer; Mallory L. Lester, Client Service Director; Mike Alfred, Sales Leader; and Elizabeth Benton, Finance Director.
“They will provide a unique insight into the needs of small commercial- and personal lines-focused businesses that partner with us, particularly those that were a part of Nationwide’s exclusive distribution model and recently transitioned to independent brokerages,” said Joe Tatum, Relation’s Chief Executive Officer.
“We are excited to lead the Relation Select brand,” said Ringeman, whose Hiller Ringeman Insurance Agency was Nationwide’s largest exclusive agency at the time of their joining Relation Insurance. “The resources and carrier relationships we offer will greatly benefit agencies who join Relation, providing significant growth for our company and partners.”
The new team brings operational experience from well-respected agencies in the Nationwide network. Hiller Ringeman earned the Nationwide Insurance All-Star Award five straight years—an honor provided to the top 12 agencies within the country. Lester comes from Laufer Insurance, which was ranked in the top 25 of all Nationwide Agencies for 26 out of the last 27 years. Alfred and Benton were both with Glick Insurance, one of the largest Nationwide Insurance Agencies in the country and a Nationwide President’s Conference and All-Star Team member.
“We’re fortunate to have this level of experience and expertise on the team,” Tatum said. “No one has a greater understanding of the challenges these independent producers face. It’s gratifying to think about the support and opportunities we’re going to be able to offer so many agencies.”
Learn more about the Relation Select Operating Team.
Katy Ringeman, Chief Operating Officer.
Katy came to us with the Hiller Ringeman Insurance Agency, Nationwide’s largest exclusive agency at the time of their joining Relation Insurance. Under a combined family leadership with her father and brother, their agency earned the Nationwide Insurance All-Star Award five straight years—an honor provided to the top 12 agencies within the country—as well as the Triad Family Business Award and the Nationwide Insurance Regional Community Service Award. Katy started her career handling claims for Nationwide Insurance until 2004 when she started a scratch Nationwide Insurance agency, ultimately merging with her father’s and brother’s agencies in 2016.
Mallory L. Lester, Client Service Director.
Mallory began her full-time career with Laufer Insurance as an Associate Agent in January of 2015, after spending four years of seasonal employment with the agency while obtaining her BA and MBA degrees. She spent time in every agency department in order to gain a holistic degree of experience. In 2019, Mallory was named Operations Manager of the agency after the completion of three sizable mergers. She currently holds her Life and Health and Property and Casualty Insurance Licenses as well as her Series 6, 63, and 65 FINRA licenses.
Mike Alfred, Sales Leader.
Mike has been successfully leading sales teams in the insurance and financial services industry for more than 13 years. Prior to joining us, Mike’s roles included VP of Sales and Managing Partner at Glick Insurance, one of the largest Nationwide Insurance agencies in the country. During his tenure, he was instrumental in bringing sales and technology resources together to drive organic growth throughout the company. Before joining Glick Insurance, Mike was a successful Territory Sales Director with Nationwide Financial in Western North Carolina and New England.
Elizabeth Benton, Finance Director.
Elizabeth, like Mike, came to us through the Glick Insurance partnership. In each of her eight years with Glick, the agency was named to the Nationwide President’s Conference and made the All-Star Team four of those years. While there, she helped coordinate 15 agency acquisitions and manage 20 locations. She was also instrumental in helping with the transition from Nationwide exclusive to an independent agency in 2020, including implementing an agency-wide Management System. Prior to joining Glick, Elizabeth spent 10 years in the banking industry.
Looking To Join Relation Select?
If you’re a Nationwide producer looking to join the Relation Select team contact Tim Hall, Executive Vice President and Head of Mergers & Acquisitions directly at (312) 714-7279 or by email.
Aquiline-backed Relation Insurance Services is looking to secure an MGA platform to build out underwriting capabilities around the specialty retail brokerages it has been acquiring over the last two years on a growth trajectory that has seen run-rate revenues pass $180mn, The Insurer can reveal.
The Walnut Creek, California-based broker consolidator is seeing an acceleration in its deal volume that began when Jeff Greenberg-led Aquiline bought into it back in 2019. It completed seven transactions in 2019, 10 in 2020 and has already done nine deals in the first four months of 2021.
Speaking to this publication, Relation’s executive vice president and head of M&A Tim Hall (pictured above) said the firm could have done 30 deals last year.
“We have the pipeline to do 80 this year, but we’ll probably do between 30-40 transactions in 2021,” he commented.
“We’re firing on all cylinders now after taking a couple of years to get the process going, the right people in place, getting in front of bankers and advisors and getting the story out there,” he said.
As previously reported, a big driver of recent deal activity has been the broker’s strategy of acquiring former Nationwide exclusive agents to add to its recently created business unit, Relation Select.
Relation picks up acquisition pace
But Hall said that those firms only account for around 25-30 percent of its active pipeline.
“The rest are in our existing business units, our new platforms, and we’re also looking at an MGA strategy,” he explained.
The executive said the MGA strategy had been part of the plan when Aquiline invested and would see Relation take some of the specialty businesses it has acquired and look to build underwriting capabilities around them.
“The preference is to focus on specialties that coincide with our existing specialties and our thesis is to acquire those capabilities because building them is really hard,” he commented.
Hall pointed to the attractiveness of acquiring an MGA writing small commercial programs and the potential to vertically integrate commission streams across underwriting and broker platforms.
The strategy bears some comparison with those launched by retail consolidators Hub International and Risk Strategies with their respective Specialty Program Group and One80 offshoots.
The executive said that Relation has looked at a number of potential acquisitions over the last two years.
“It’s a strategy we’re pursuing, and I’d love to have MGA capabilities internally within the next 12 months, then start to harvest some of our specialties, flow them through the MGA, and then develop new ones, adding teams and tuck-ins,” he commented.
Hall – a former Waller Helms partner and managing director brought in by Relation CEO Joe Tatum in 2019 – said the firm has a strong preference for proprietary deals, which account for around 80 percent of its current pipeline.
“We’ll always participate in a process but will remain disciplined. We try to sell the merits of partnering with Relation and we have a good story,” he said.
Although he acknowledged that Relation bears similarities with other private-backed-backed consolidators in the distribution space, the executive said that because the firm is at a different age and stage to many of its peers its story is resonating in the marketplace.
It is able to offer potential acquisitions the opportunity to be the platform to open up into new territories as part of Relation, which has tripled the number of states it is in over the last two years, but still only has a presence in 18 states and has plenty of scope for geographical expansion.
“We’re the beneficiary of our equity story because our growth is going to look like a hockey stick,” he said.
“So folks understand why we’re paying what we’re paying and know we think there’s going to be a real return on the equity component in a shorter time frame compared to selling to someone further along in their development,” the executive added.
The Nationwide distribution roll-up has been building a head of steam in 2021, and among its several acquisitions Relation has bought the first and third largest of the mutual’s former exclusive agents with deals for Laufer Insurance Services and the Michael Glick Agency/Glick Insurance Group.
Looking to join Relation? To learn more, contact Tim Hall, Executive Vice President and Head of Mergers & Acquisitions directly at (312) 714-7279 or by email.
While your people depend on you. You can depend on us. This is why we focus on one thing.
The decision-makers who are passionate about protecting their organization’s welfare and their colleagues’ well-being. And at the center of this, is a sense of trust, and our commitment to provide our partners’ the collective resources needed to realize their ambitions.
This is how we build businesses. By investing in our relationships.
We look for the right ﬁt, for partners who share our expertise and entrepreneurial mindset. It helps create mutually beneficial relationships. This is why our network is growing so fast.
It’s not just the products. It’s our culture.
At Relation, we have a culture of trust that supports everything we do and promotes an experience that’s unique in our industry. It gives our acquisition partners the freedom to invest themselves in client relationships and create change within our ﬁrm.
Our culture of trust allows us to be locally focused and decentralized while providing the collective resources clients need to realize their ambitions.
It’s the foundation of relationships that last, which is why we have low turnover and loyal clients – which is also how 100-year old companies become 100-year old companies.
We reach our goals together.
We strategize for the long term and are there to see it through. We listen and make people feel cared for, which are the right things to continue doing.
At Relation, business is personal. Because, we are more than just a company — we are a culture of trust.
Michael Glick still carries the same set of values he did when he started in the insurance industry 27 years ago.
“When you tell someone you’re going to do something; you do it. Period.”
This is a lesson Glick learned from his father. Something he holds close to his heart. It is what has made Glick a top producer at Nationwide for 20 years and earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. And a true testament to his consistency in service to not only his clients, but his team.
“When I make a promise, I commit to fulfilling that promise,” Glick said.
Glick recognized this same set of values in Relation when deciding to transition from a Nationwide-exclusive agent to an independent agency under the Relation Select brand. Relation Insurance has long been known as a place where a handshake still means something. In fact, CEO Joe Tatum personally flew to North Carolina to shake hands with Michael, meet his wife and kids, and talk about what the move would mean for him, his family, and his team at the dinner table.
“Relation feels like a family firm. I know I will never get lost at Relation or be just a number,” Glick said.
Glick is not the only agency that has recognized Relation as a destination firm that feels like home. Relation is in discussions with at least six other top Nationwide agencies, who happen to be close friends with Glick and his team.
“Some of my best friends are Nationwide agents. To have them join the Relation Select family is exciting. Together, we can continue to build something wonderful and continue to enjoy coming to work every day,” Glick said.
While Relation feels like a family firm, its deep carrier relationships and access to more markets provide an incredible opportunity for Nationwide independent agents looking to make the transition.
“We believe Relation Select will offer significant growth opportunities to former Nationwide-exclusive agents and independent agents that focus on small commercial and personal lines solutions,” said Tim Hall, Executive Vice President and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for Relation.
And Nationwide agrees.
They believe in the value Relation provides and added Relation Select to the shortlist of approved companies for their independent agencies formerly part of their exclusive distribution model.
To learn more about the opportunity and experience firsthand what Michael Glick and many other agents have, contact Tim Hall at [email protected]
At Relation business has always been personal because we believe in building teams and investing in relationships. We carry this core value throughout everything we do, from how we support our staff to how we service our customers.
We are proud to expand that same level of commitment to “Main Street” focused businesses through the formation of Relation Select.
What is Relation Select?
Relation Select will support small commercial and personal lines customers through partnerships with existing local agents, primarily on the east coast. Providing local agencies with access to various insurance solutions and support, as well as the ability to leverage our broad range of products
This will help agents invest further in their relationships with current clients. While also provide better pricing to their customers while retaining the flexibility and nimbleness of a small local agent invested in his/her community.
A growing interest in the Relation Select Family.
Since news broke about Relation’s interest to partner with existing independent agencies in local markets, we have received numerous calls from agents looking to explore the opportunity.
The first to officially join the family is Michael Glick, of Glick Insurance Group. Glick Insurance Group provides insurance solutions across 20 different locations in North Carolina. Glick may be the first, but many former Nationwide exclusive agents are either already in discussions to merge forces with Relation or in the beginning stages of the talks.
What makes Relation Select so enticing?
Local independent agents have a lot of opportunities when looking to partner with a larger firm. For the agents interested in Relation, the reason is not just the ability to scale. It’s our people.
From the top-down, our entire team is invested in supporting businesses looking to grow. To us, our agents are family. Joe Tatum, the CEO, has personally flown to sit at agents, like Michael Glick’s, dinner table to spend time getting to know each other and their family.
Connect with Tim Hall
Are you interested in exploring an opportunity to grow with Relation Select? Email Tim Hall, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions for Relation, to discuss joining the Select Family.
Every year, Relation hosts a National Sales Meeting which brings Producers and leadership together to share learning from the previous year and set goals and a game plan for the year ahead. Teams from different business units share ideas, strategies, client resources and technology tools. It’s also an opportunity to get the latest news on company activity. This year’s meeting was held at the J.W. Marriott resort in Las Vegas, NZ, February 5-7. The theme was 2020: Vision for the Future, Focus on the Goal. Below are some highlights.
Day One: Focus on The Vision
We kicked off the general session with a very special guest and partner to Relation, Steve DeCarlo, Executive Chairman of AmWins. AmWins is a global specialty insurance distributor with expertise in property, casualty, professional lines and specialty group benefits products. Steve’s keynote covered his inspiring personal story and the AmWins growth story, which fired up the group and laid the groundwork for the future-focused theme of the day.
Steve was followed by our CEO, Joe Tatum, who crystallized the meaning of this year’s theme by sharing his vision for Relation to be a 100+ year company and the plan in place to get there.
“We must always be growing and investing, and preserving our culture is key.”
Summit Club Awards
Relation wouldn’t enjoy the growth it experiences today without the drive of its Producers. Our annual Summit Club awards go to the very best of the best–those Producers who are able to hit a set number in written new business, all while partnering with service teams to provide legendary service to their existing clients. The 2019 Summit Club winners are:
- Jimmy Stewart
- Kevin McCarroll
- Yogi Yeend
- Sean Kelly
- Hector Corona
- Elissa Sanchez
- Johnathan Lancaster
- Steven Billings
- Paul Tamburri
Achieving Summit Club, while recognition of an individual’s accomplishment, is often a team effort and a testament to the collegial sales culture at Relation. According to Steven Billings: “Johnathan [Lancaster] and I completed three deals together in 2019. I wouldn’t be able to hit the numbers I have, and vice versa, without us partnering to cross-sell. He’s a valuable resource.” Summit Club winners and their guests will celebrate their success in Scottsdale, this spring.
Team Building Event
We welcomed 6 new firms to the Relation family of brands in 2019 and had set aside time to officially meet and celebrate the new Producer faces at the very beginning of the day. This year’s team-building event, “The Amazing Chase”, coming at the end of day one, was designed for newcomers and veterans alike, to have some fun and get to know each other. Teams from each region were assigned scavenger hunt tasks to complete and capture progress on an iPad.
Day Two: Focus on the Goal
The first general session of the day gave a “look inside” to various in-house specialty resources Relation has that Producers can take advantage of to meet their goals and better serve their clients.
Afterward, CFO Chris McKechnie and EVP M&A, Tim Hall, both took to the stage and provided inspiring overviews on our projected growth and strategy for the coming year.
In the afternoon, attendees reconvened and split their time amongst four breakout sessions covering the array of resources Producers can access to serve their clients, along with deep dives into industry trends and hands-on sales trainings and strategies.
They also spent time with our President and COO, Ed Page, and CEO Joe Tatum in one of our consistently most highly-ranked sessions: “Ask Me Anything.”
The final keynote session was delivered by motivational speaker, Brian Parsley. He offered insight into the psychology of sales and shared words of wisdom on sales effectiveness, customer loyalty, and leadership strategies that close deals.
Last year, our community of Rockstar Producers exceeded expectations by focusing on their goals and our clients. We look forward to another great year in 2020 and the new opportunities that lie ahead! 2020: Vision for the Future/Focus on the Goal.
Each year, we strengthen our balance sheet and reputation because of a consistent track record of growth and profitability. Over the years, we’ve also received recognition from various prestigious publications in the Bay Area and nationwide.
For the last three years running, Relation was named among the top 45 firms on Insurance Journal’s Top 100 Property/Casualty Agencies. During a time of evolution for the insurance sector, where some insurance brokerages are struggling to adopt to new ways of doing business, Relation’s agile approach to connecting the dots between people, process and technology has contributed to consecutive years of revenue growth.
- “Top 100 Property/Casualty Agencies in the U.S., 2019” by Insurance Journal
- “Top 100 Property/Casualty Agencies in the U.S., 2018” by Insurance Journal
- “Top 100 Property/Casualty Agencies in the U.S., 2017” by Insurance Journal
Relation has also received the Elite Agency award from Insurance Business America for the last three years. Additionally, each year Insurance Business America surveys its readers to cultivate an impressive list of women whose personal and professional achievements have earned them a place among the industry’s best. In 2015 and 2016, Keri Lopez, President of Employee Benefits at Relation, was honored as one of the industry’s “Elite Women.”
- “2018 Elite Agency” by Insurance Business America
- “2017 Elite Agency” by Insurance Business America
- “2016 Elite Agency” by Insurance Business America
- “2016 Elite Woman, Keri Lopez” by Insurance Business America
- “2015 Elite Woman, Keri Lopez” by Insurance Business America
We also regularly receive local recognition from the Bay Area’s authoritative sources of business news, such as being listed in the San Francisco Business Times’s 50 Top Private Companies, 50 Largest Brokerages, 50 Largest Benefits-Consulting Firms, and 50 Largest Benefits-Consulting Firms.
- “50 Top Private Companies – East Bay Area, 2016/7” by San Francisco Business Times
- “50 Largest Brokerages in the Bay Area, 2016” by San Francisco Business Times
- “50 Largest Benefits-Consulting Firms in the Bay Area, 2016” by San Francisco Business Times
- “50 Largest Benefits-Consulting Firms in the Bay Area, 2015” by San Francisco Business Times
We are proud of these accolades, but, more importantly, we are proud of our family of brands that includes 25 acquisitions to date and brings together some of our industry’s leaders and most notable players in their respective fields.
For all press inquiries, please contact Emily Porro at [email protected].
At Relation, our culture is the source of our success and it begins with the strength of our people. Our Relation Rockstars series highlights the company’s most successful employees who are invested in helping to grow the company, excelling in their position and when producers, expanding their book of businesses. This month we spoke with Elissa Sanchez, a top-performing producer who attributes her professional growth to Relation’s entrepreneurial environment and support of work-life balance.
Elissa Sanchez is a producer for Relation’s Agribusiness practice out of its Pan American business unit, who lives and works in the Imperial Valley in Southern California. Elissa joined Relation in 2016, having previously enjoyed a career as an independent loss-control consultant. She quickly rose to be a top producer, earning internal recognition and accolades. However, as a successful entrepreneur in her own right, deciding to make the switch to being an employee was not an easy choice initially.
“When I was approached about becoming a producer at Relation, I was unsure. I had a successful consulting business and wasn’t sure I wanted to work for a company. And I didn’t know the insurance business. However, I eventually saw it as an opportunity to use my loss-control and training experience to grow into being a producer.”
Elissa credits the company’s supportive network of mentors who helped guide her through the transition as a core reason for her early success.
“I was immediately offered hands-on support from the leadership of my division as I learned the job. Even though I was an hour from the closest Relation office, I never felt alone. Whether it was being accompanied on my appointments, or getting my questions answered along the way, I had a team of colleagues who were always open and available to help me. It didn’t take long to feel like I had been part of Relation forever.”
Elissa also points to Relation’s strong culture of appreciation for all employees who support the company’s growth, not just the producers.
“I had only been working at Relation for a month when I was invited to the company’s STAW (Support Staff Appreciation Week) event. Each year for a week, Relation shows acts of gratitude and appreciation for the support teams who help on the back-end in the sales process. During this week, teams receive gifts of appreciation every day and the week culminates with a big appreciation dinner in a central location. Teams are brought in for the event so producers stay behind and manage the offices for them while they get to relax and celebrate. The experience was mind-blowing and right then was when I knew that this was the company I would want to work for until I retired. Three years later, I still feel that way.”
Core to Relation’s culture is also empowering its employees through an entrepreneurial work environment coupled with work-life-balance, and Elissa noted, “As a working mother, flexibility is important. Relation gives me the autonomy to use my strengths to build my book of business while working the hours that make the most sense for me and the clients I serve. That confidence in me is empowering.”
For people interested in pursuing a career as a producer in insurance, Elissa attributes much of her success to her ability to tap into her skills outside the industry, and think out-of-the-box.
“I don’t just focus on insurance. I bring my experience in loss control into every conversation and also look for other ways to be a resource to the companies I serve. Whether it’s educating myself on new laws and regulations that could cost employers money, or bundling in compliance or training seminars, bringing these services into the conversation sets me apart from my competitors. It also helps me to become a valuable partner, not just a salesperson. This connecting the dots approach has opened the door to me on almost every occasion, and continues to be a strong source of referrals for new leads.”
Elissa is just one of the self-starting, innovative and committed individuals who continue to shape Relation’s unique culture and drive our growth. If you are interested in becoming part of our team, we’d love to hear from you. Please check out our careers page for our current openings.
Most leaders understand how important it is to have a great culture. A company’s culture is the single most important factor in driving performance—it’s the only thing that consistently drives outsized organizational performance and long-term competitive advantage. But many people still struggle when it comes to shaping such a culture.
Most properly motivated leaders can create a world-class culture if they are willing to put the effort in, and the skills and capabilities needed to do so can be learned. Every leader should prioritize creating a great culture as a top individual objective. If your company already has a great culture, recognize that it requires constant work and attention to keep it there. If you don’t have one, you have a tremendous opportunity waiting for you to go after it.
Action leaders can take to build corporate culture
Here are seven ways to develop a fun, high-performing culture:
Walk the walk. Senior leaders set the tone for any organization. Your employees see everything you do—your work habits, the way you treat people, your consistency (or lack thereof), and the behaviors you demonstrate every day. While words matter, leaders’ actions matter far more. Culture is always set from the top and created by example—so strive to be an excellent one.
Be authentic. Nothing kills culture quicker than a lack of sincerity. If you are someone who can show you care about an individual and what’s going on in his or her life, you’ll build the relationships that will ultimately help your organization reach its goals. People are far more energized when they feel they are seen and valued as a person. However, nothing is more damaging than being disingenuous or insincere. Be true to yourself, and don’t force yourself into an inauthentic position. The more you can find real ways to connect with people in your organization, the better.
Play the long game. In the midst of the day-to-day, you may be tempted to hit the easy button or think about what’s needed immediately, especially if the short-term decision conflicts with the long-term. Adopt the mindset that you’re creating a company that will last for hundreds of years and act accordingly. Always try to do the right thing, no matter how painful it is.
Communicate, be transparent, and listen. Most senior leadership teams can do better at communicating with their employees. Almost all can improve their listening skills. When leaders are fully transparent about the good and the bad developments at a company, people are much more engaged and helpful because they know what and why something is happening. So why not tell them?
Recognize contributions. Recognition is important: It drives behavior by rewarding the good and discouraging the bad. People who feel appreciated end up experiencing more self-worth and positivity about their ability to contribute to the company. The result is a happier and more productive employee.
Be humble/admit mistakes. In a high-performance culture, leaders give credit and never take it, while also taking blame and never giving it. Admitting that you made a mistake (especially when it’s obvious) creates a culture of learning in which people are not afraid to try new things. This is imperative to helping an organization improve and grow. Successful leaders can admit their mistakes and see opportunities to anticipate the unexpected more quickly. They also share this wisdom with those around them. Don’t be too proud to recognize mistakes as valuable teachable moments for yourself and others.
Be accountable. As an accountable leader, you don’t blame others when things go topsy-turvy. Rather, you work to build an accurate understanding of where your organization excels and where it has opportunities to grow. Accountable leaders also step up to champion initiatives to help their organization succeed.
About the Authors
Edward Nathan Page is president and COO of Relation Insurance Services, an insurance brokerage that offers risk-management and benefits-consulting services through its family of brands across the U.S. He can be reached on LinkedIn.
This article originally appeared on the American Management Association (AMA) website here.
Here are seven tips to design your rebrand for success.
Any time you give something a new name, it’s a big deal.
While naming a company is very different from naming a pet or your first-born child, it still feels close to home because, ideally, you’re looking for a moniker that speaks to the very heart of how you do business.
In 2018, we successfully rebranded ourselves from Ascension Insurance to Relation Insurance Services. If you’re considering renaming your firm, here are seven things we learned that you should think about to help ensure a successful rollout with your team that will extend to clients and into the larger business community.
Involve the right people from the beginning. First, create a naming committee comprised of folks from all levels and facets of your business. Consider leveraging outside consultants where appropriate for support so the internal team can remain focused on the day-to-day business. New names also can create distractions and/or concerns for employees speculating about an ownership change. You can mitigate this by prepping the leadership team with key talking points and anticipated FAQs.
Know where you are so you can show the team where you want to go. Conduct an audit of company names already in use in your industry or tangential to your industry to help explain to employees where your current name fits in the ecosystem and why it needs to change. A helpful exercise is to plot out which company names in the industry are descriptive and which get turned into acronyms. Look at which names are constructed or invented and how many evocative names are out there.
Don’t be emotional about picking a new name. As you begin the process of reviewing potential names, strong feelings will likely surface, but remember: naming a company has to be strategic. To keep emotions to a minimum, establish the following guidelines for evaluating potential names:
- No one else should be able to lay claim to it in your vertical
- It has to distinguish you from competitors in the industry
- It needs to complement your brand positioning
- It has to be memorable, easy to say and spell, and look good on signage and marketing materials.
Take the time to get it right and push on. In order to find something that hits all of your criteria, you’ll need to construct or invent a name or find one that isn’t likely to be used in your vertical. Wherever you land, the new name will probably require some courage and vision to bring it to life. For us, at the core of every aspect of how we do business is our relationship and partnership to our clients. Once we landed on “Relation,” it became obvious that we needed to be bold enough to put that front and center on everything we did. We also knew that not everyone would buy into the new name at first, and we built that into our rollout plan.
Use internal influencers to help get the rest of the team on board. Identify groups of influencers within your organization who can be brand champions and brand ambassadors. The brand champions should be folks in leadership positions at each business unit who can help answer questions and address concerns locally while championing the brand to employees who may be attached to the old name/messaging. Gain their buy-in before the rest of the company.
The brand ambassadors should be associates in each office who can be continuously responsible for upholding the new brand standards at each office and making sure everyone has what they need. They can also be the first line of defense, letting leadership know of any minor issues before they escalate.
Keep the momentum and excitement building. Employees are influenced by leadership. All the way up until your external launch, your executive team should be demonstrably united and excited about the name change. Consider facilitating town halls, speaking one-on-one with any detractors, sending out regular progress emails to the whole company, and including updates on regular all-colleague calls. Drip-releasing branded collateral materials and merchandise also helps to build excitement leading up to the hard launch.
Don’t stop internal communications after launch day. After launch day, continue to send out weekly (or daily, if needed) email updates for housekeeping items. Consider devoting monthly all-colleague and sales team calls to give big-picture updates on branding and solicit ideas for new content and thought leadership. It’s also important to fold the branding into your employee experience initiatives for recruitment and onboarding, health and wellness, and employee engagement. Our national sales meeting happened to come hot on the heels of the launch, which gave us an additional opportunity to build pride in the new brand and begin a collaboration between marketing and sales on a new, comprehensive collateral system.
Changing your name can either generate a lot of interest in your work or make it harder for people to remember exactly who you are and how to find you. Your employees are the ones who can help set your firm apart from your competitors. Start from the inside out with them and let them build your advantage!
About the Author
Natalie Zensius is senior vice president for marketing communications at Relation Insurance Services. [email protected].
This article was originally featured in Leader’s Edge May 2019 Issue.