Having the sun as a universally understood brand symbol was gold for Sun Life Financial. But over the past 10 years, Sun Life has created a new competitive identity that has made it easily recognizable around the world and helped investors hone their financial literacy skills.

The Toronto-based life insurer’s first branding step took place a decade ago when it embarked on a global exercise that culminated in the tag line: Life’s brighter under the sun. Accompanying it is what Bill Ramsammy, assistant vice president of corporate brand and marketing for Sun Life Financial Canada, describes as a “whimsical” drawing of the sun.

“If you go to Kuala Lumpur or Waterloo, Ontario or right here in Toronto it is recognized…as an expression to describe our brand promise,” says Ramsammy.

The ultimate goal

The tag line and sun leverage “the strength we have as a company that understands clients and has products to help them protect their lives plus investments,” he says. “It’s being human, it’s being approachable, it’s being spirited – and I use the last word quite heavily because having the sun describe that energy to help people plan for a better financial future and well-being is really our ultimate goal with the brand.”

Then about six years ago, Sun Life decided to take its approach a step further by introducing Money for Life, easy to-understand articles on everything from taxes to the importance of early saving and various retirement products and strategies.

Originally the name for an annuity, Money for Life is aimed at encouraging clients to take a more hands-on approach to their own financial and retirement planning.

“Let’s be honest – we’re a low-interest, unsexy category and a very complex category and what we wanted to do was simplify the process for Canadians to better understand financial and retirement planning” and work with an advisor to understanding Sun Life’s offerings, says Ramsammy.

Unlike annuities, which are structured for an older demographic, Money for Life, and its holistic articles on saving and retirement planning, is now more inclusive of clients and potential clients.

It also takes into account the way Canadians’ lifestyles have changed over the years.

New reality

“Life stages still happen but life events differ within those life stages,” says Ramsammy. “So for example, we have 50-year-olds going back to university to get their PhDs or master’s degrees. We have 19-year-olds developing apps in their parents’ basements and retiring at age 25. It’s our new reality and this is a global reality.”

Money for Life had to be tweaked somewhat as the marketing program went out to different countries, like Malaysia and the Philippines, where money and life have different meanings than the North American perspective.

So Sun Life put a little more emphasis on lifestyle and how life stages and events can affect investors’ savings. “In Malaysian or Filipino cultures, no one wants to talk about [money] but they want to talk about their lives and their families...so putting more emphasis on the word ‘life’ has really been one of our ways to disrupt those markets.”

Ramsammy says Sun Life will be launching Money for Life in Hong Kong next year.

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