Southern Cross is an iconic New Zealand brand. Established in 1961, today the brand is trusted by over a million New Zealanders for healthcare, travel insurance, pet insurance and life insurance. Our challenge was to help each part of Southern Cross, all of whom operated separately within an overarching not-for-profit business model, make the most of everything they shared.
Presently customers believe they deal with one brand, Southern Cross. That perception is important and holds strong commercial value. This project was about leveraging that commercial value, internally aligning each business and its people and developing a master brand that matched customer perception.
Senior decision makers within Southern Cross recognised that they needed to separate how they did business with how they were perceived; and use the strong brand equity they had to inform and enhance each and every part of what they did.
Specifically, they saw they were missing the opportunity to leverage a common story that would allow them to respond in a flexible and agile way to market opportunities. Without a strong, relevant and recognised group brand, Southern Cross lacked an additional competitive edge - the ability to leverage closer relationships and the flexibility to respond swiftly to change.
Voice began by celebrating Southern Cross’s unique role as a not-for-profit in New Zealand and the trust, compassion, care and leadership it brought to everything it does. Southern Cross is more than a health insurance provider. They are invested in making Kiwis’ lives better. In fact, every activity that Southern Cross engages in is about looking after the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families, at home and abroad.
Research showed 89% of respondents recognised the Southern Cross brand from its current logo with strong equity in the blue cross. 70% of respondents correctly associated Southern Cross with the cross symbol without any prompting with little change to data percentages when the “Health Insurance”, “Hospitals” and “Travel Insurance” names were added.
Based on findings, Voice pared the brand marque back to the cross symbol, revitalising the master brand and category brands to modernise them and make them feel like a single family. In brand architecture terms, this moved the Southern Cross experience away from a ‘house of brands’ towards a more ‘branded house’ architecture that operated in multiple sectors. This would enable Southern Cross to tell a more cohesive story and strengthen consumer connection.
Voice and client undertook an in-depth consultation over the course of 12 months, working closely with leadership, staff and stakeholders to socialise thinking and respond to feedback. Tenacity and persistence was needed by all to find a common visual language that could be used across all parts of Southern Cross, published via extensive brand management guidelines that would enable each entity to market independently while taking full advantage of a strong, clear, unified identity – but the results have been worth it.
“While Southern Cross has scale with presence across New Zealand and in Australia, this wasn’t necessarily recognised by customers or valued by our people,” says Joanne Mahon, Southern Cross Chief Communications & Brand Officer. “The cohesive identity enables us to make the most of our brand in each of the markets we operate in. It gives us what amounts to transferrable trust, and that is a valuable asset that we can now make the most of.”
With a unified approach in place, Voice has continued working with Southern Cross to help build group presence, telling its story and the significant contributions they make to New Zealanders, their health and wellbeing. For example, Southern Cross released its first Community Impact Report in 2019 highlighting how and where more than one million Kiwis received care and attention.
“Every brand, no matter how strong and well established, must continue to evolve and narrate its contributions and achievements in meaningful ways to maintain trust and presence,” explains Jonathan Sagar, Voice Principal. “For Southern Cross, finding ways to come together and tell the story of everything they share and achieve as a group is enabling them to show their collective value to everyone they interact with and assist.”
“The new brand gives us transferrable trust, and that is a valuable asset that we can now make the most of.” – Joanne Mahon
Campaign Credit: Southern Cross Travel Insurance/ True