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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Matthew

6 Branding Criteria You Need To Know Before Branding Your Business

Progressive Insurance hit it big! They hired improv comedian and actress Stephanie Courtney in 2008. Stephanie plays the super helpful Progressive Insurance expert named ‘Flo’ on TV commercials.

Introduced to the American public in 2008, ‘Flo’ shows staying power. She also meets the six criteria for choosing a brand element. And, she connects so well with the public that her presence has grown company profits.

“MSN homepage visitors who saw Flo’s banner ad were twice as likely to visit 2.4x as likely to search using the term “Progressive” in the week after seeing her ad.”

Below is a detailed breakdown of how ‘Flo’ has uplifted the Progressive brand based on Kevin Lane Keller’s brand element criteria. You will learn the six keys to creating or choosing a brand element (logos and more) from this example.


Choosing A Brand Element

How ‘Flo’ Is Supporting Progressive Success In Detail.

A Brand Element Must Be Memorable

Progressive’s character ‘Flo’ is memorable for both good and bad reasons. Some find the character to be quirky, amusing, creative, hip, and fun. But, others find her character to be irritating and creepy. Some go as far as to say weird, sterile, dorky, and annoying. Either way, the emotional responses from the public make her character memorable.

‘Flo’ is also memorable because Progressive consistently uses her for their ads. She has been a spokesperson for years now. Now, most “undoubtedly associate her with Progressive Insurance.” To make sure your brand is memorable, make sure that you give your brand a personality.

A Brand Element Must Be Meaningful

Progressive uses the character ‘Flo’ to promote the company’s products and services. They want customers and prospects to know that the company will listen to their needs and passionate about its products. And that it will save customers money with customized solutions.

These are the messages created by Progressive, conveyed through ‘Flo,' appealing to those who want to buy insurance. Hence, the brand position being pushed - Progressive makes the car insurance processes a “more heavenly” than “hellish" experience. Does your brand have meaning?

A Brand Element Must Be Likable

‘Flo’ is relatable. She is approachable, people know who she is, and they connect with her. Your brand must be likable, too. Through ‘Flo,' Progressive has been able to “portray itself as a fun, likable brand.”

Because ‘Flo’ is an “incredible improvisational comedian,” she is also liked because she is funny and charming. People like ‘Flo’ so much that they talk to her persona on social media as if she were not a corporate mascot.

A Brand Element Must Be Transferrable

Although ‘Flo’ is an American actress, her character has been somewhat interchangeable, as your brand should be. At first, ‘Flo’ was dominant on TV. But, Progressive was determined to make her more visible. So, they use her character on their website, social media channels, mobile apps, and more.

Also, there are now versions of Progressive’s Flo in other countries, such as Australia. But, they are more like Flo’s family members who maintain a similar style and look. For example, the ‘Flo’ of Australia is ‘Kitty,’ Flo’s cousin.

A Brand Element Must Be Adaptable

Over the years, ‘Flo’ has evolved, with her character becoming “more modern and more relevant.” Progressive built new environments and characters around her to keep the content fresh. Progressive also gave “the commercials a different and more natural feel.”

If your brand is unable to adapt to changing times, you will soon be irrelevant. We don't want that. So, audit your brand annually to avoid this from happening.

A Brand Element Must Be Protectable

Based on advertising law, ‘Flo’ is protectable. She is also a copyright-protected brand element because she is essential to Progressive’s advertising campaign.

And, while trademark law can protect the different versions of the character, copyright protects the persona. In other words, you can prevent a competitor from using a very similar character. Protect your brand.


But, Will Flo Compromise Progressive's Progress?

No. But, all good things come to an end. 'Flo' will get too old, or the viewing public will tire of her. Retiring her will force Progressive to find a new spokesperson. But, this would be at the risk of losing the momentum 'Flo' has brought to the campaign.

“The evidence that Progressive is hedging its bets against Flo emerged in 2010, when the company and its ad agency, Arnold Worldwide, introduced a new spokes-character(s). Yet, until she loses momentum, Progressive CMO Jeff Charney says, “Flo is not going anywhere.” However, this should be a serious consideration for your brand. These are the drawbacks of having a person as your spokesperson.



Starting with criteria number is your brand meaningful?

P.S. This post is not sponsored...I just like Flo. :-)

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Empowerment: A passion for empowering others.

Creativity: A love for creative expression.

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