Kemper Goes Gotham

We are used to seeing marketing for insurance companies everywhere—on billboards, in television, on the radio and more. Some of the companies have rather ingenious campaigns and recognizable characters such as the Geico lizard. Smaller companies with smaller advertising budgets have their work cut out for them, because trying to compete in this saturated and brand-conscious market can be a challenge.

This is exactly the task facing Kemper. Kemper is an insurance company that most of us in the general public have not heard of, but with 6 million policyholders it is hardly a small business. Kemper merged almost a decade ago with Unitrin, another insurance company, and is adopting a new logo design and brand to promote the conglomerate.

The image is of a K made from layered triangles. The K falls into the popular origami design motif that we have seen often in the past year. The name of the company is written in serious, bold upper-case letters in the Gotham font. One of the most interesting choices in this logo is the color of the K; the ochre color is eye-catching and youthful, but not one usually seen in this all-business industry. According to the Kemper company, it is meant to show warmth and approachability.

The new logo will be seen soon in a national marketing campaign that the Kemper company is planning to promote their brand as yet another large insurance company. It is a safe logo by all definitions—nothing to look at here, folks—but it is not a bad one at all. In fact, it will stand out in a field where logos tend to use too many serifs and blues.

One interesting note is that when the two companies merged, they kept the Kemper name but dropped Unitrin like the proverbial hot potato. We think this may be due to the overly technical feeling of the Unitrin name. It sounds like a pharmaceutical product, perhaps a new medication. Kemper, on the other hand, is easy to pronounce and has a business-like feeling.

Kemper will have to undergo a lot of marketing in order to compare with Nationwide, State Farm, and the many other competitors in their field. A new logo design and visual brand is the first step in making this leap from small potatoes to the big time.

We have to wonder about the use of the Gotham font. This wording style is used often in New York City, as implied by the name. It will be the font used in the soon-to-be constructed Freedom Tower. In addition, the font has been used by Starbucks, Yahoo, the Discovery Channel and even the Obama campaign. It is hard to say that this is the wrong choice, but we have to wonder whether something a little more specific and less general would have been appropriate. After all, logo design is all about differentiation. On the other hand, there are certainly many good associations with the Gotham font, and it is very different from many others used in the insurance industry.

Mash Bonigala
Mash is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped 100s of companies differentiate themselves from the competition through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity design. Schedule a call with Mash to discuss how to clearly communicate your brand story. (Follow him on Google+ and Twitter)
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