'Manchester United is a rally cry and helps us feel like we are part of something better' explains Aon's marketing chief
A unique relationship between an iconic British sports team, Manchester United and a global risk management company Aon evolved as a marketing strategy that now helps define its overall corporate culture according to Andrew Miller, vice president of Global Corporate Marketing at Aon.
"Associating ourselves with a global brand like Manchester United has been highly beneficial," Miller said. "We believe that by association with a master brand, it attracts talent, costs less to activate the brand because you don't have to use touch points, it builds trust and association."
In addressing a gathering of B2B marketers at the recent ANA/BMA16: Master of B2B Marketing Conference in Chicago, which was the former corporate headquarters of Aon before moving to London in 2012, Miller noted how a global corporate strategy can benefit from master brand association and impact strategy ranging from Aon's simple tagline to its corporate focus.
With an employee base of 66,000 people working in more than 120 companies, Aon’s marketing strategy helps drive basically everything they do, according to Miller and marketing has taken a front seat as vital to the growth strategy of the entire organization. Additionally, Miller notes that strong brands like Manchester United deliver a leadership dividend where organizations can harness the power of a master brand to unite and focus an entire organization. Further, master brand loyalty offers growth areas to activate and can be achieved in an extremely effective way.
"Interestingly, in a recent scientific study, we learned that the part of the brain that registers brand loyalty is the same part of the brain that registers religion. That is something to think about," Miller said. "Manchester United is a rally cry and helps us feel like we are part of something better. We feel there are customers more likely to choose Aon because of our loyalty to Manchester United."
Aon, which dates back to the 1600s, is a global brand that is built around servicing customers in core areas of risk, health, talent, retirement, data and capital. Because 65 per cent of the business centers around risk solutions, the marketing strategy also focused on developing a tagline and succinct message.
"One of the most important things we focused on in building the brand was harmonizing towards that single logo or tagline - and for Aon it is 'empower results,'" Miller said. "Our CEO was present to roll out the marketing brand program and that is how important it was to us. Because we wanted to get front office, back office and outer offices singing from the same song sheet when it came to our tagline, we determined that everything we do could add up to this ultimate tagline - 'empower results.' It enabled us to make sure people knew what to say and how to describe us and talk about topics regarding our company so we built tools around that."
On the community front, one of the things Miller links directly to the marketing department is its global service day where 500 offices spend a chunk of the day working with the community. Once again, Aon partnered with Manchester United to work with at risk youth. "It is a great way to get kids excited about sport."
Additionally, through its familiarity with sports marketing, Aon began studying and talking about t some of the challenges of the LGBT community in professional sports and held day long conferences and symposiums. "We had some terrific feedback on that and talked about how to knock down barriers for the LGBT community through athletes and the business community."
This led to a further development where Aon now sponsors the national women's rugby team of Ireland.
"We know that the average Manchester United player makes about $300,000 pounds a week. We looked at a team that did not have these resources and in part because the name Aon is a Gaelic name that means One we teamed up with the women's national rugby team of Ireland. There are 25 women who have regular day jobs as police officers, teachers, nurses, day jobs who find the energy on nights and weekends to play rugby at the national level for Ireland. As marketers our job is to focus on communicating important messages about what we do and this is an incredibly powerful."
Miller notes that marketing has to be at the table and is core to growth. "Strong brands enjoy benefits that others do not and brands can unite the troops," Miller said. "In both front or back office, the power of networks is strong. Sponsorship can help you grow brand awareness but be clever and creative so you can get that special sweet sauce that gives value to your clients that they will not get somewhere else."