“People simply don't accept false or irrelevant promises anymore and are looking for authenticity. In our industry, trust has become both a baseline requirement as well as a differentiator.”
What kind of role will Corporate Social Responsibility play in managing your brand?
For Allianz, social responsibility is more than a new fashion or simply an obligation to follow the Zeitgeist. Our purpose is to help our customers move on and up in life and business. So, you could argue that Allianz—also expressed in our name—is one of the very few truly social companies by nature. Our business model is founded on a social or community-based approach: Many people put relatively little amounts of money in a basket to help those few who need it during times of hardship, such as natural disasters, accidents, or illness. Allianz exists on this model and thus needs substantial capabilities to manage these risks—but also to maximize the opportunities. Our Allianz 4 Good division focuses on these areas by providing specific programs on Financial Literacy, Risk Awareness, and Low Carbon Economy. As a result, we were rated both Best Global Green Brand in Financial Services in 2011 by Interbrand and again received a top ranking in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index Rating.
What do brands need today in order to distinguish themselves from competitors?
In my opinion the simple recipe is to consistently deliver on the purpose of your business, in a true and genuine way. People simply don't accept false or irrelevant promises anymore and are looking for authenticity. In our industry, trust has become both a baseline requirement as well as a differentiator. Many companies claim "trust," but few deliver on it. With the developments in online media, digital communities, and the proliferation of personal recommendations and referrals, it has become relatively easy for customers to find which brands they can trust.
What role does brand play for the organization internally?
A very important one. We pursue the philosophy of "brand starts from within." In the absence of tangible products, we are dependent upon the superior delivery of our services and ultimately of the Allianz brand via our more than 600,000 brand ambassadors, i.e. employees and distribution partners. Making them understand, believe, and love what Allianz stands for is becoming more and more critical to business.
What significance does the "digital world" have for the role of your brand?
As mentioned previously, the evolution of the digital world has dramatically changed the way our customers and prospects are consuming media, searching for information—or recommendations—and buying products. With new technology available, expectations about certain service levels are increasing across industries. We are continually addressing this new "digital lifestyle" by developing new service offerings, innovative product concepts, and constantly evolving our digital touchpoints to stay true to our promise of being a trusted partner, wherever you are, whatever you do. For us it is business critical to enter this journey now to keep in touch with our next generation target audience, even if this means learning and evolving our strategy as we go. The notion of opening up, testing and learning becomes vital—it is worth noting that this is quite a big step in our traditionally risk-averse industry.
Which challenges do you see coming up for your brand, particularly in the next years?
Our brand came out of the last financial crisis much stronger. So we are in a good position to overcome any upcoming challenges. However, we will not become complacent since we know that the transition of our company into a fully digitized firm is a major endeavor. We believe that the brand will, and must, play an essential role since it basically represents the face of our business strategy. Ultimately, we are now focusing on the definition and delivery of a superior Allianz experience, building on a seamless integration of digital and traditional touchpoints for customers and prospects. This, in itself, is complex, but additionally we also have to find the right strategy and balance across a huge variety of business models and regulatory environments, considering market conditions and maturities and cultural differences. Challenging without a doubt, but something together, we at Allianz can achieve.
ABOUT CHRISTIAN DEURINGER
Christian joined the Marketing division of Allianz SE in Munich in
2003 as Senior Brand Manager. Today, he is heading the Global Brand
Management Team (Strategy, Governance, Advertising, Media and Sponsoring). Before, he was VP Marketing at Wannago, an Internet start-up in Stockholm/Munich, Marketing Manager MINI at BMW in Birmingham/Munich and Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble in Frankfurt. Christian is an expert on holistic Brand Management and Marketing Strategies. He studied economics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and holds an Ph.D. degree on Change Management.