The property-casualty insurance provider Travelers Insurance Co. first started employing a red umbrella as its brand logo in 1870. Nearly 140 years later, the company succeeded in buying it back from Citigroup for an undisclosed (and possibly substantial) amount.
The Umbrella Company
Travelers shared the red umbrella logo with Citicorp when they merged to form Citigroup. Becoming independent again in 2002, they changed their visual identity. Although the umbrella was absent from their logo for some years, the public continued to associate the red umbrella logo with Travelers. Folks also remember its old brand slogan ‘You’re better off under the umbrella’. The umbrella proved too precious a symbol to let go. The opportunity to reacquire it finally came in 2007, when Citigroup rebranded to ‘Citi’. This opened a window of opportunity for Travelers to snatch it back. They have been serious about protecting the value of their brand symbol ever since, challenging at least 30 other companies from using umbrellas as their logos, including an umbrella-making company.
Keeping the umbrella top-of-mind
So confident are Travelers of their brand symbol that it has built entire advertising campaigns solely around the red umbrella instead of focusing on product and service offerings. According to the Slate advertising reporting website, this strategy had proved to be successful. You know what would fit right in? They could try branded umbrellas as promotional merchandise. The common everyday object can easily find its way into homes, schools and offices. This way, the brand will be ever-present to the user as well as the public. In fact, the merchandise itself acquires novelty status given the brand’s impressive track record.
Will Travelers be the only brand to own the umbrella symbol one day? It’s highly unlikely, but at the rate of their marketing efforts, the company has already gained enough brand recall to last them perhaps another 140 years.