Beating the chameleon curse: 3 steps to creating more consistent documents



One of the things we routinely see when working with new clients is that their documents tend to take on the personality of the person generating them. We call it the “chameleon curse.”

But don’t take our word for it. Ask any one of your underwriters, and they will tell you the same thing: they often receive wildly different looking submissions that come from the same office.

Is your brokerage cursed? If you spot one or more of these in your brokerage’s submissions and proposals, you too may be suffering from the chameleon curse:

  • Different sized fonts,
  • Different types of fonts,
  • Different coloured fonts,
  • Sporadic use of your brokerage’s logo, and
  • Inconsistent use of branding design standards (think colours and graphics).

As a brokerage principal you may think, “Why is this so bad? We’re all individuals at our firm and people may have a different approach to communication and documentation. The last thing we want to do is stifle creativity.”

That may be true, but the problem with brand deviation is three-fold:

  1. It creates an inconsistent image; one that portrays a lack of professionalism.
  2. The inconsistency not only reflects on the individual, but the brokerage as a whole.
  3. Unprofessional looking documents erode trust in the mind of the viewer, whether that be underwriters looking at submissions or prospects looking at proposals.

So, what can brokers do to help break the chameleon curse? We suggest three tips to building consistent and professional looking documents across your brokerage.

1. Create a branding standards guide

Sounds technical, but it’s really not. This can be as simple as a one-page reference guide that explains what the standards are when creating documents. Start with the following:

  • Type of font to use e.g. Arial or Times New Roman,
  • Size of font to use e.g. 10,11, or 12
  • Colour of font
  • Brokerage branding colours
  • A copy of your logo already sized and ready to use
  • Guidelines on where to put the logo on pages e.g. top right-hand corner, bottom left-hand corner, etc.

Having a reference sheet removes guess work from the equation. So when one of your staff have to create a document, they know where to start and what’s expected.

2. Create document templates

Start with your most commonly created documents, like submissions, proposals and renewal letters. Create a template for each one, and save them in your Word library. Creating document templates removes one of the greatest barriers to achieving a consistent look and feel across all visual communications.

3. Communicate why standards matter

The selling of insurance is the selling of the intangible. You can’t touch it, smell it, or feel it. So people look for proxies when evaluating their experience that surrounds insurance.

These proxies include everything from how someone answers a phone call to the visual look and feel of letters, emails and other documents that come from your brokerages. Each interaction can build, or erode, feelings of trust. And people buy from those they trust.

(Read this white paper to learn more about trust in commercial insurance)

Standards help to create uniformity, and this in turn helps to build confidence and trust at the both the organizational and individual level. Take the time to talk to staff about why it’s important for the brokerage, and each person, to follow a standard guideline. You’re not trying to stifle creativity or expression, but rather building an image that is synonymous with trust.

Topics: Best practices