One Group, One Team: Guardian Group’s Internal Re-Branding

Theomary Karamanis, Ph.D. / AKADREM Inc. / Schaumburg, U.S.

Business Need/Communication Opportunity

Guardian Holdings Limited (GHL) is the parent company of an integrated insurance and financial services group operating in 2 1 different territories in the English and Dutch Caribbean. The company is listed on both the Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica stock exchanges and is a market leader in its key markets. The group followed an aggressive growth strategy between 2001 and 2012, acquiring 34 companies and divesting 17 operational entities in an attempt to establish financial strength and leadership in its markets.

In 2011 the group operated with multiple brands across the Caribbean: Guardian Life, Guardian General, Guardian Asset Management, West Indies Alliance, NEMWIL Insurance and Guardian Holdings Ltd. in the English Caribbean, and Fatum in the Dutch Caribbean. Each of the member companies had its own marketing and communication department and followed its own communication strategy. In January 2011, the organization hired AKADREM Inc. to conduct a communication audit to assess the status of the group’s communication practices and recommend solutions to strengthen its communications. AKADREM conducted extensive research, comprising both an internal and an external communication audit, which revealed significant vision-culture-image gaps.

The research showed that while there was a high degree of awareness of the individual companies within the group, there was little association and recognition that the companies belong to the same group, and the umbrella brand was almost nonexistent (awareness rated at 1–2 percent across the territories). Further, 74.4 percent of internal stakeholders believed that all companies could benefit from a stronger group brand, while 50 percent believed that the whole group needed to be re-branded. The results of the communication audits were discussed at the executive and board levels,