Sanlam Investments UK

Bringing the best of both worlds to life

A new positioning and awareness campaign for Sanlam Investments emphasises the unique benefits of the UK business while reinforcing the brand promise of the South African parent, creating an ownable story with differentiation at its heart.

The challenge

Sanlam Investments is a UK-based asset management business, part of the global Sanlam Group – a large South African financial services brand with a 100+ year heritage, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Following a period of structural change and reputational misconceptions in the market, Sanlam Investments UK needed to bring clarity and cohesion to its brand positioning. It was a chance to establish what it stands for and why the wholesale investor community should sit up and take notice.

In addition, any strategic or creative work had to leverage and ladder up to the parent brand. Specifically, it needed to give meaning to the global brand promise of ‘Live with confidence’ for the local market.

This was a challenge on two fronts. Firstly, unlike on the African continent, Sanlam is not a household name in the UK. Brand awareness is low and brand image, whilst recovering, had been negatively affected by association with a different, and now divested, part of the business. Secondly, in the world of investments, scale and confidence go hand in hand. And, although Sanlam is a global brand with a global footprint, the UK asset management business is relatively small.

For these reasons, we not only needed to develop a positioning that would define Sanlam’s unique value for the target audience but one that substantiates ‘Live with confidence’ in a way that the UK business could get behind and ultimately deliver.

The solution

We kicked off the positioning process with a discovery phase, combining desk research, stakeholder interviews and an employee survey. The goal was to uncover insights that would lead us to a positioning territory that Sanlam Investments UK could confidently own. We would evaluate it against the following criteria:

Is it Compelling? Will our clients get it? Will they care?

Is it Differentiated? From our clients’ perspective, does it set us apart in a meaningful way?

Is it Authentic? Will our clients believe us? Can we deliver? Are our claims consistent with our performance?

Is it Sustainable? Can the position be maintained over time?

Through this process, we identified an opportunity in Sanlam’s unique structure. Our research told us that, unlike competitor asset management firms, which were either specialist but small boutiques or well-supported but bureaucratic powerhouses, Sanlam Investments UK represents the best of both worlds. Both the independent ethos and investment culture of a boutique AND the strength and commitment of an established global parent. This combination of benefits, unique to Sanlam, could be used to give the brand a differentiated position and permission to promise ‘confidence’ in a way that feels authentic to the UK business and its clients.

The best of both worlds positioning was born. We now needed to bring it to life with an audience-centric verbal identity, comprising tone of voice, brand narrative and, trickiest of all, a succinct way of communicating the positioning – which, by its very nature, has two sides to the story!

‘Boutique attitude. Global backing’ was chosen. It makes clear, individual references to both worlds, captures the spirit of independent firms and strength of the establishment, and clearly explains why Sanlam’s clients can ‘Live with confidence’. It also provided the creative springboard for the next part of the project: a brand awareness campaign.

Conventional meets creative

Given that our positioning hinged so heavily on juxtaposition, we decided to translate this into our creative execution. The seemingly incompatible worlds of an established global corporate and that of an independent boutique were represented typographically to create a visually disruptive campaign.

This approach also gave us the flexibility to present Sanlam’s key messages using a consistent look and feel. We reduced the major tenets of the brand’s offering into single words that reflected its duality: dependable/adaptable; authority/autonomy; security/flexibility. The juxtaposition technique meant that we could, simply and succinctly, give our audience a taste of what they should expect from the brand with a “boutique attitude and global backing”. What’s more, the endline, “Confident investment in differentiated funds”, spoke directly to the core audience need and linked the global ‘Live with confidence’ promise to the UK positioning.

The primary brand font and colours were used for the messages that referred to more conventional aspects of the business’s operations, whilst an edgy, graffiti-style font was introduced to detail the more enterprising, unexpected elements.

The introduction of the secondary colour palette differentiated the campaign yet further – the pastel colourways creating standout in the investment management space, which is largely dominated by corporate blues and greys.


Let’s get digital

The Sanlam Investments campaign was purely digital, so we faced the added challenge of short dwell time and crowded media space. To broach this challenge, we introduced some eye-catching digital effects, including a glitch at the start of the banner sequence. As well as drawing attention to the banner, the effect added to the unconventional look of the campaign, giving it further ownability and reinforcing the ultimate difference that Sanlam has as an organisation.

The results

The result is a campaign driven by disruptive creative that demands attention but also works hard to reinforce the new positioning and brand messaging. Still live, initial results suggest the campaign will comfortably hit targets and meet objectives.

The creative idea also gave us scope to extend the campaign to the product level. We’ve so far used the typographic approach to speak about Sanlam’s Real Assets and Global Artificial Intelligence funds, and the messaging duality has the potential to be applied to other parts of the Sanlam portfolio.

The brand narrative has been applied to the Sanlam Investments UK website, and the best of both worlds positioning has galvanised and renergised the team around a story that’s both simple and effective to tell.

mark-making* really got under the skin of the challenge and our ambition. They worked hard to understand us as an organisation and our market, while also being sensitive to the requirements of the parent brand. They weren’t afraid to push back where necessary, but all in the name of getting the best possible result. The brand positioning, narrative and awareness campaign really do reinforce what Sanlam Investments UK stands for. Our independent attitude and robust backing are summed up in a way that’s easy to understand and memorable. This is just the start of our journey and we’re excited to see where it will lead.

John Howard Head of Marketing, Sanlam Investments UK