Strategic Planning

Build a Brand Using the Brand Strategy Toolkit

CanopyNation is an employee benefits advisory firm that creates, administers and services custom employee benefits packages. They work with companies in the United States that have between 25 to 3,000 employees.

The company was formed in January of 2018 after being spun out of Simmons Bank in Memphis, Tennessee. The company principals, Orma Smith and Jay Mays, have over 40 years of combined experience with insurance products and benefits packages and had been running the employee benefits division within the bank for over five years.

Their new brand was originally intended to be called Streamline, but after a conflict check rendered the name unusable, they were tasked with finding a new brand name.

Instead of restarting the brand naming process, they started to build a brand using the Marketing MO Brand Strategy Toolkit to gain a better understanding of what their name should represent.

It was an eye-opening experience.

Build a brand with brand strategy toolkit - CanopyNation

Brand Inspiration

CanopyNation clients had worked with Orma, Jay and their team at Simmons Bank and experienced their passion for customer service and helping them get the most out of their benefits package.

Orma and Jay’s strong personal beliefs were apparent to everyone they worked with:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Taking care of the people who do your work
  • Giving, not taking
  • Genuinely caring about your employees
  • Being open, responsive and transparent
  • Treating our customers as family and friends
  • A dedication to education (for us, it’s about educating people about how to manage healthcare risk)
  • A devotion to servicing the customer

They wouldn’t even sell certain lines of insurance because they couldn’t recommend them to friends and family. The brand inspiration module enabled Orma and Jay to clarify how their values would be communicated in the new brand.

Brand architecture build a brand - CanopyNation

And it became clear that they’d put their brand promise front and center:

We promise that you’ll receive our relentless pursuit of customer service


Build a Brand Promise CanopyNation

Brand Differentiation

In the United States, there has been a dissatisfaction in the marketplace over the past 20 years over the cost of healthcare. Government legislation is still creating a tremendous confusion about healthcare. There’s some dishonesty in the insurance industry, with people selling out to get the commission and not servicing customers properly. There’s increasing pressure on the big banks to increase bottom line and topline growth – regardless of the outcome to the customer. And many other brokers are not investing in the future.

In the brand differentiation module, they were able to determine that most of the main groups of competitors were not serving the market in the way the market desired. Some of the national players like Willis and Marsh are respected and valued with tremendous resources at their disposal. But there was an alarming trend of putting shareholder growth ahead of customer needs at some companies.

Additionally, most of their peer agencies and solo practitioners were not investing in new technologies and providing completely transparent support during the ACA open enrollment period.

Their competitive advantages became clear from the work in this module.

Brand Positioning

At this point, they decided that their brand positioning would be as an employee benefits advisory service instead of an insurance brokerage. The trusted advisor for business healthcare coverage was difficult to find — and it was their entire focus.

They’d strive to have the new brand to be known for providing innovative healthcare products and comprehensive administrative services.

Brand positioning to build a brand - CanopyNation

Brand Architecture

While the buyer persona for the economic buyer is the CEO or owner of the company, the main influencer (and thus the most important buyer persona) is the person responsible for human resources.

They broke these down into four specific personas based on experience, career stage and company type. And for each, what the new brand should mean (the brand means) were the same:

  • The team handling all of my employee benefits work
  • Ensuring I get the perfect plan for my company and employees
  • They take care of the benefits for all of my employees

They defined their brand personality traits as:

  • Warm
  • Trustworthy
  • Modern
  • Competent
  • Committed

In the brand architecture module, the team also wrote their brand positioning statements and brand messaging, defined the elements of their brand story and defined the experience the brand should deliver at each touchpoint.

Brand Naming

With the majority of the brand strategy completed, it was time to revisit the brand naming exercise – with a goal of selecting a great brand name that would anchor everything they wanted the brand to stand for.

The process took two weeks and the stakeholders were very pleased with their ultimate selection of CanopyNation.

Selecting the URL required some evaluation, as a shed company owned which redirected to

They evaluated, and, but ultimately decided on

Brand Strategy Implementation

The CanopyNation team is still working through their brand strategy implementation plan, but their website went live in March 2018.

Additionally, CanopyNation received preliminary approval for their trademark a mere 90 days after the application. While most applications won’t move this quickly, their in-depth research of names in the brand naming module helped ensure that the name could be trademarked.

Aero Interactive out of Indianapolis handled the creative implementation of the brand strategy, starting with the website design and build.

Build a brand strategy implementation - CanopyNation

“For our design work, it really helped our team to have such a clear, concise brand strategy document at the beginning of the project. We knew exactly what the creative should represent. It would be great to have every client start with such a comprehensive written brand strategy.”

“We are so pleased with the results from completing this entire process! It was challenging but very rewarding. We’re proud of our new brand and never expected to be able to create a brand that represented the beliefs and values of our core team as well as CanopyNation does.”

If you like the design, feel free to reach out to Lindsey and her team.

And if you share the same beliefs as the CanopyNation team and are looking to get the most out of your company’s benefits, connect with the CanopyNation team.

And you can start building your brand with the brand strategy toolkit here.

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