Sonnet Stands Apart

[Cache #249]

By Andris Pone – President, Coin Branding

The essence of branding is being different.  At first glance, this objective might make branding, as a discipline, seem like a cakewalk – because pretty much every company out there thinks and says they are different from everyone else. 

The truth is that exceedingly few organizations actually do come across as different.  They say essentially the same things and look basically the same way and even have names that sound similar.

But every once in a while, a brand comes along that really, truly stands out.  Right now, that brand is Sonnet.

Sonnet is a new insurance brand, now selling home and auto insurance to Canadian consumers – online.  So that’s the first thing that makes Sonnet very different indeed, considering the pervasive model is still to sell such insurance through salespeople.

Bravo to Sonnet’s parent company, Economical, for having the insight and courage to recognize and act upon the need for a very different offer to have a very different name – if one intends that offer to actually come across as different.  Have a gander at this list of the top 10 Canadian insurance companies in Sonnet’s niche (otherwise known as “property and casualty”):

  1. Intact Financial
  2. Aviva Canada
  3. TD Insurance
  4. Wawanesa Mutual
  5. The Co-operators
  6. Desjardins General
  7. State Farm Fire and Casualty
  8. RSA Canada
  9. AXA Canada
  10. Economical Insurance Group


…As we can see, Sonnet stands out bigtime in the way it looks, sounds, and above all, feels, which is soft, friendly and approachable.  And even poetic, sonnet of course describing a type of poem.

And easy, given Sonnet’s relationship with poetry, and the words poetry and poetic often used to mean wonderfully simple or beautiful to behold.

These meanings are markedly different from those communicated by the much more traditional names of Sonnet’s competition – the majority of which, now that I am arriving at the end of this sentence, I realize do not communicate much at all.  With the exception of Aviva, they communicate solemn promises such as trustworthiness, conservatism, and in the case of brands such as RSA and AXA, zilch.

Sonnet has thus turned this industry’s naming conventions on their head, commensurate with another, highly impressive dimension of how this brand communicates:  by talking about optimism.

Insurance is an industry that focuses on bad things happening.  But Sonnet has flipped the bird to that idea with this key message:

What’s the best that can happen?

sonnet michael j fox

The industry’s overriding message is that bad things are going to happen in life, and it would be a good idea to prepare for them.  The Sonnet message is, in contrast, glass half-full:  great things are going to happen in life, and it would be a great idea to protect them.

Which message sounds more appealing to you?  Decide for yourself by checking out Sonnet’s beautifully executed ads here on YouTube.  You will recognize the narrator, in a spot-on casting choice, as Michael J. Fox – someone we can safely say embodies the optimistic ideal.

And while people most certainly love Michael, the iconic Canadian has a job that will be the antithesis of easy.  Because Canadians really, truly dislike the insurance industry.  So it is that Sonnet has boldly taken on the great challenge expressed in this passage, the last lines of their inaugural ad:

It made us believe there can be an insurance company Canadians actually like.  Optimistic?  Yes.”

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