Brand Refresh: A Point Well-taken for WellPoint?

According to Ben Protess of NYTimes.com:

WellPoint, one of the country’s largest health insurers, has agreed to buy Amerigroup in a bid to bolster its Medicaid business as the industry undergoes an overhaul....“We believe that this combination will create an industry leader in the government sector serving Medicaid and Medicare enrollees,” Angela F. Braly, the chief executive of WellPoint, said in the statement. “This is an opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of both companies to better serve our members and position our companies for future growth as the health insurance industry changes,” she added.

An opportunity in many ways, not just in the business sense, but also in the branding sense. WellPoint has been on an acquisition tear under Braly's leadership, scooping up 1-800 Contacts, a contact lens direct retailer, as well as CareMore, a provider of managed care for the elderly (a company we pitched several years ago...and didn't land, alas. Their branding is still largely where it was then – middling). What are they going to do with all these brands, especially Amerigroup, their largest and most important acquisition in recent years?

If CareMore and 1-800 Contacts are any indication, it will be the "business as usual" route, where the brands have been pretty much left intact, with little or no indication that they are part of WellPoint. Seems OK for 1-800 Contacts, as a consumer retail brand that would not necessarily benefit from changing the name from the functional "1-800" approach. CareMore is a different case, and could probably become WellPoint CareMore, or at least fall into the endorsed brand category, as in "CareMore, a WellPoint Company." 


But in the case of Amerigroup, WellPoint has a real opportunity to take major step forward with its branding. WellPoint is a company with a great name, but the emotional branding largely stops right there. Could the brand value of Amerigroup be leveraged to WellPoint's advantage, instead of being left to moulder and eventually disappear?

Consider the WellPoint corporate identity, an American flag design that has nothing to do with either being well or getting to the point:





Their tagline: Health.Care.Value  Ho.Hum.Boring.

The website also leaves the viewer cold:





All in all, a fairly generic look without much appeal. Now take a look at Amerigroup's brand identity, starting with their corporate identity:
Could you see the name "WellPoint" swapped out in that logo? It would fit perfectly, and be much more appealing than the American flag motif they are currently sporting. Oddly, the name "Amerigroup" would work perfectly with WellPoint's current logo. Switched at birth?

And take a look at the Amerigroup website, with its warm, informal images of real-life situations:

The true course of action here is for WellPoint to keep their excellent name, but to adopt some of Amerigroup's branding, from the logo to the brand character. My inclination is to say that Amerigroup has a clear brand strategy in place, complete with a vision for a better future they're helping create, while WellPoint seems to be just trying to not offend anyone with their brand, hardly a good brand strategy.

I can't see a vision for a better future in WellPoint's brand. Can you? This would indicate that there is a problem.

Let's hope they seize the opportunity to address that with this acquisition of the far more "human" brand of Amerigroup.


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