Grown up brands


How does a brand develop gravitas?

Almost all internet start-ups set out to disrupt and this disruption starts with the brand. From the fore-runner Egg to the much advertised Nutmeg, we are asked to think of the brand as something associated with things we like. NEST is another example.

Pension Playpen is another such brand, one that I am associated with. Recently we have found ourselves being asked to collaborate with some much larger companies, many of whom have brands which were once disruptive but are now as “household” as Virgin and O2.

Understandably, they are now more conservative about their brand reputation than organisations like Legal & General and Scottish Widows, whose brands are so well established, they aren’t diminished but refreshed by the shock of the new.

For them, words like Actuarial and First have more gravitas than Play and Pen!

But to get to be a Virgin or an Egg requires a degree of conviction in what you are setting out to do. For us, a mission statement of “Restoring Confidence in Pensions” is an internal driver to challenge what we consider the hegemony of mediocrity that has beset the provision of retirement wealth over the past 30 years.

To simply align ourselves with words such as “First” and “Actuarial” which is where our heritage lies, would have suggested continuity  with a way of delivering value that works for established companies with pensions, but not with a world of 1.3m employers who have never provided for the long-term needs of staff.

We want to encourage those around us, to share this sense of newness that our Pension PlayPen brand encapsulates.

But in the end, is the brand a hindrance to our achieving the more important aim of getting small and micro employers to choose properly the savings mechanism for their staff?

Play is after all a very loaded word. It has a naughty sense that we hadn’t considered but soon discovered.

It is disruptive as Hamlet knew

the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King

Play is also the opposite of work and to the puritanical mind, the antithesis of Godliness.

“Play” and its domain the “playpen” are as disruptive of what work and workplace are about – as you can get! The old synergy “work is boring- pensions are boring” underpinned the idea of the occupational pension.

But work is no longer so boring, we understand that happiness at work is a key driver to productivity and playfulness is very much part of that process.

So I really don’t know!

“First Actuarial” or “Pension PlayPen” which would you choose as your pension brand?


F1rst Actuarial hi-res




About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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