The Western Michigan Health Insurance Pool is a healthcare insurance cooperative of schools and public-service entities. It covers 21,300 lives in 85 member organisations.
The Pool was created with one, simple goal – to make available the right health insurance at the right cost for public-service employees in Michigan. Originally formed in 2005, the Pool has been working with Arthur J. Gallagher on areas such as plan design, underwriting, claims analysis and compliance.
The Pool recognised the need to improve its internal and external brand to ensure that its value proposition was clearly articulated to current and prospective member organisations. After understanding how the Pool operates and its ongoing strategy, we created a new brand that will help it to achieve its goals through engaging communication.
“Gallagher Communication has enabled us to market our offering internally and externally through a superb new brand, which will deliver our message not only for today, but also for the future.”Mike Hagerty – Executive Committee
Run by members for members, the Pool started off small but has grown to provide healthcare insurance coverage for 21,300 individuals (as at 2017). The mission is to deliver good value, high-quality healthcare insurance at an affordable cost to public-service employees in Michigan.
The Pool has an ambitious goal of achieving double the current amount of lives covered. To get there, they understood that they needed to improve how they told their story, conveying why an organisation should want to join the Pool, and getting across the message that when more people join the Pool, everyone benefits.
The Pool provides its members with a wide variety of benefits:
- Local member organisation ownership
- Transparent healthcare coverage
- A wide variety of healthcare options
- Affordable and clear costs – no hidden charges
- Shared risk, which keeps premiums down
- Comprehensive wellness programs
The Pool has a number of competitors, which increased the need to ensure that its value proposition was clearly and consistently articulated to existing and prospective members. In addition, US healthcare is often selected by individuals on the basis of long-standing relationships with healthcare providers or doctors, so creating trust between member and organisation is essential.
The Pool understood that switching from a ‘known quantity’ to their offering would be an emotional decision, as they knew from feedback that members understood the value, but taking a step from a long-standing provider still required a step of faith. To maintain an advantage over its competitors, the Pool’s brand needed to demonstrate the strong trust and credibility built up over the years.
The Pool’s Executive Committee is made up of seven individuals elected by members. The first step was to engage with this committee to understand how the Pool operates, its vision, values and its ongoing strategy. Our initial strategic workshop was run via video call, which enabled us to build up a rapport as we would if we were sitting with the committee in person. During a strategic workshop, we work hard to understand the organisation and the people behind it. Brand strategy, concepts and designs are based on everything we gather at this initial stage.
This first meeting highlighted the committee’s passion and commitment to deliver good quality healthcare to people like themselves. Our key takeaway was the importance of capturing the spirit, passion and essence of what the Pool is trying to achieve.
The new brand conveys trust, humility and creativity, and this was also required from the strapline. As part of a session to present the draft brand to the Executive Committee, we asked them to participate in the creation of the strapline. A collaborative effort, focusing on achieving the ‘run by members, for members’ mentality, came up with “Transforming healthcare together”. This new strapline ensures the Pool’s brand conveys transparency, clarity and honesty, as well as how the Pool adds value.
We created a video to launch the brand to members at the Pool’s summer conference, to explain to those who had not been involved in the process who we are, what we have done and why. It showcased a before and after, giving the brand the start it deserved. The video and brand were met with a huge round of applause from the 100 individuals present, a first for anything shared at a Pool conference!
Positive affirmation was a key measure of initial success. The individual members watching the video had taken a measured risk to join the Pool. The new brand’s focus on the future, the positive messaging and the sense of improvement reinforced that they had made the correct choice, added true value for their organisation, and that they would continue to enjoy a secure healthcare offering within the Pool.
From the strategy and brand, we have been able to suggest ways in which we can continue to support the Pool with their communication – looking into marketing collateral, website developments and the overall engagement experience, to bring the brand to life.
Healthcare insurance impacts lives across the US and the decision-making process for individuals can be overwhelming and stressful. We were delighted to work with such a passionate group of people who are truly focused on positively impacting the lives of their members, and to support their mission by creating a brand that articulates just how the Pool is transforming healthcare together – it’s the beauty of what we do!
Mike Hagerty, from the Pool’s Executive Committee, commented “Howard is an absolute genius, Josephine is brilliant and Matt is one handsome man”. Okay, yes, we told him to say that! Here’s what he actually said about the project.
“Gallagher Communication’s approach in the workshop sessions enabled them to really understand what we are all about, giving them a perfect foundation to work from. They invested time to understand us as people and find out what motivates us. We’re excited to work with them to roll-out the brand across our marketing materials. We can’t wait to hear what all of our members think!”Mike Hagerty – Executive Committee