Close-Up with Sergio Sanchez, CMO, Clements Worldwide

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Clements Worldwide has a growing commercial insurance division that specializes in providing insurance products for overseas employees of governments, non-government organizations and multinational companies. Operating in more than 185 countries, Clements provides coverage in such areas as international fleets, transit and cargo, as well as life and health. It also offers high-risk insurance against such things as kidnapping and ransom. The company is coming off a six-month rebranding effort that saw a name change. CMO Sergio Sanchez, who came to the company last November, oversaw the effort.

CMO Close-Up: What is the significance of the company's rebranding efforts?
The issue that Clements encountered, as I analyzed it, was that the company has traditionally operated through the lens of being a U.S. organization. Clements is an American company that's less American than any other you can think of, except that it had an American lens through which it viewed the world.
We've served expatriates in every location for more than 60 years, and yet we didn't have the kind of presence in the industry as a worldwide player. For us, from a strategic standpoint to expand and in looking for acquisition opportunities, we wanted to display both our in-house capabilities and our worldwide knowledge. Also, we've started to have an expanded international presence with wholly owned subsidiaries. For example, we opened a London office last year, we'll open a Dubai subsidiary later this year, and Singapore in 2012.

CMO Close-Up: Until earlier this year the company was called Clements International. How does the new name, Clements Worldwide, reinforce the rebranding?
What does branding mean? It's not just a simple change of name or a cute tagline. Branding is essentially the heart of the organization that conveys its messages and values, and tells people who you are and what you do. We've introduced a new icon that looks rather humanoid. We named it Ike. It represents our customers and employees, and the aspirational nature of how we want them to feel about the company and customer service. We also aligned internal units to more closely serve our customers, moving management of European clients to London, for example.

CMO Close-Up: Explain the need for the kind of insurance coverage Clements supplies.
The majority of insurance policies have severe limitations when it comes to global reach. For example, there is generally no coverage for liability if something happens as a result of your actions overseas. Also, you have to have an understanding of where one territory's reach of law ends and another begins. For example, you might not know if Thai law allows for a plaintiff to sue you in the U.S., so multiple liabilities are possible. This is a niche market but one that has grown from globalization, so we've found ourselves in a sweet spot over the past 20 years. The State Department is one of our largest clients, and we have a number of government contractors. We also have about 300 international schools as clients, in places like Afghanistan, Central America and Southeast Asia.

CMO Close-Up: Tell us how Clements markets itself.
The company has pretty much operated by word of mouth. We do have some presence in the Foreign Service Journal, but essentially we operated strictly through long-standing relationships with organizations. Now, however, we're getting aggressive with social media as a way to espouse our new branding. It also helps us get ahead of what the customers are thinking about, and encourage them to learn more.
As far as our products are concerned, we have about 60 types of products and used to have 20 different brands. There's trouble in this kind of over-branding. With a number of different platforms, there was confusion, so the rebranding did away with some of those over-branding issues.

CMO Close-Up: What's next for the company?
We are developing a worldwide plan for regional expansion, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. We'll expand our online platform significantly. Social media will continue to be a major part of our strategy, and we'll look into paid ads there. And mobile media will be the centerpiece of our 2012 marketing effort. I'll evaluate everything. Even banner ads might be useful in some cases, but we'll be rigorous in metric management.

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