“Words are powerful”

Determined, they are at MAIF. The We Are COM team questioned Cécile Ribour, their communications director. Determined to what? In Niort, irreducible mutual insurers want to become the very first company with a mission within the meaning of PACTE law. By digging, we found a committed company, a deep conviction and a legacy. This made visible by a new logo of the militant insurer and a new advertising opus.

Hello Cecile! You surely know our traditional question 🙂 What is YOUR vision of corporate communication?

It is the transmission belt between the brand and its audiences, between the company and its stakeholders. It carries the raison d'être of the company and its strategic vision to concrete action. Its role is both internal and external: I no longer believe in yesterday's distinctions. The corporate communication builds the reputation of the company, in a context where the consumer is in search of meaning and transparency. It helps to create Confidence capital, favorable to brand preference. Because the intrinsic attributes of products are no longer sufficient to trigger consumer choice on their own. So communicators must engage the communities that revolve around the brand, through mechanisms that allow individuals to be positive ambassadors and participate in collective action. The idea is to gradually widen the circle of influence of the company which starts from its own activities and which opens towards the whole company.

Today no company can be focused only on itself, its products or its balance sheet. Otherwise, it will remain a “company” in the legal sense and will never be a “brand” in the City. The company must now look outwards if it is to be a real brand chosen by consumers, with increasingly civic aspirations. To look beyond oneself is to consider society and the common good.

Exactly how have the relationship with brands and the profession of communicator changed since the arrival of the iPhone in 2007?

There is a fusion between brands and the services they offer. On a smartphone, if an app does not work, we switch to another: a service that I am not satisfied with is immediately deleted. He is leaving my world and will not return to it. 

The first brands installed in our iPhones created standards for the following ones. These “market” standards have become extremely high in terms of experience, fluidity, speed, etc. Faced with "digital native" competitors, the companies of the last century are forced to accelerate their transformation because consumer expectations are the same regardless of the brand. When you end up in the consumer's pocket, there is no more distinction.

Obviously the relationship to time has also been upset: immediacy has taken over. Brands are lived in the present tense, that of conversation. Paradoxically, we - communicators - must think about the brand in the long term if we want to build a real relationship with audiences and engage them over the long term.

Finally, digital has freed up expression and citizen action. Thanks to applications like Yuka ou We Act for Good (WWF), everyone can take direct action. The individual is no longer just a stakeholder in the debate, he has become an actor. And it's a great opportunity for brands that are committed : they can find THEIR audiences, enter into conversation and action with a multitude of individuals.

In each of our expressions, we are perceived as militant insurers

Why does MAIF want to be the very first company to become a “Mission Company”?

On May 17, 1934 at the Café des Marronniers near Niort, 156 teachers created the MAIF - a mutual fund based on mutual aid against the dominant capitalist model. It is deeply social pioneer DNA. We continue our story and want to be a driving force. 

Today, we are the first large company to embark on the path of the company with mission within the meaning of the PACTE law. We have developed and adopted our raison d'être, which formalizes the contribution of MAIF: " convinced that only sincere attention paid to others and to the world can guarantee a real better common, we place it at the heart of our commitments and of each of our actions ". This raison d'être is intended to be included in the company's articles of association, during the vote of the General Assembly (GA). Voting the reason for being in AG makes it possible to confirm a form of sustainability and to bring together all the components of the company. But this is not enough to guarantee the alignment of the energies. We must commit to carrying out a mission in front of all citizens. Thus, anyone can at any time oppose this status to a company that has declared itself a "mission company" if it does not keep its commitments. It is this look from the outside that forces us to accelerate. We believe that this quality of company with mission will be differentiating tomorrow for the consumer. And we hope that many companies will take this path too! 

How can the business model make a business different?

All companies have this double question in common: how to create value and what value? For us, value is defined as the greatest satisfaction of our members, the development of our employees, the positive impact on society and our environment, in the service of performance for the company. Our MAIF model aims to do all of this at the same time. The ground is more favorable to us because we have no shareholders and therefore no distribution of dividends. Our development is based on loyalty, the satisfaction of our members and ultimately recommendations to their loved ones.

By that is defined mutualism: we operate for the sole benefit of members, who are both insurers and insureds. However, for us, this status is not enough. We want to create positive value for society by aligning the interests of all. Employees, members and society in general. And for us, only actions count!

Member, mutualist, AG, cooperative, social share ... a lexical field that is not that of the general public. How do you choose your words?

Words are powerful. The company draws its singularity from its history and its present. We must not refrain from all these words because they are part of the company. Let's take an example: all our letters begin with " Dear member and end with " Mutualist feelings“. These words recall the power of the model: you are part of the MAIF community, you are not a customer. The MAIF belongs to you and you participate in a responsible collective. 

Whether it's an emailing or a TV ad, the challenge is for the receiver to say " that's the MAIF, they are different“. In each of our expressions, we are perceived as militant insurers thanks to our actions and an emphatic, close, responsible tone.

While your slogan " Militant insurer »Celebrates its 20th anniversary, you have a new logo. Do words age better than logos?

We had a joint work on the logo and on the signature of the MAIF brand with this unique question: which formal expression testifies the most to what we are and what we want to be? We wanted a reminder of our origins, while being modern and conquering, to engage with our members and society. 

This brief led us to an evolution of our visual identity and the confirmation of our signature “ Militant insurer“. Maintaining this signature is a real choice. It certainly has even more force today than twenty years earlier because it is even more nourished by concrete actions.

Evolution of the MAIF logo

The new logo is in direct contact with our history: we were pioneers in 1934, and we are in 2019 by becoming the first company with a mission. Graphically, we have returned to a form of radicalism: a red triangle [editor's note: re-branding led withagency W]. It was only in 1994 that our logo had become square under a green background. We return to our origins with more simplicity and roughness. This logo thus breaks the codes of the insurance sector, where we favor more the square shape, symbol of stability. Our inclined triangle is part of a dynamic.

What about your advertising positioning?

The very first MAIF advertisement was broadcast in 2000. It's recent! However, according to numerous studies, we already havea very distinctive advertising heritage: the saga of wire characters is fully installed. The wireframe symbolizes great transparency, simplicity in the relationship and veracity in the subject. We believe that it is a precious capital that we must preserve and enrich. And as you have understood, MAIF's money is its members' money. We are therefore particularly vigilant on the effectiveness of our advertising investments. Reaching this level of recognition with a new advertising universe would require much more substantial investments. 

Beyond advertising, how do you animate this network of ambassadors that are your members and elected officials? ?

We are the only mutual to have activists on the ground in our Council delegations [editor's note: internal semantics to designate local agencies]. These are members - elected by the other members - who have decided to get involved in the operation of their mutual. These people have a role of reception and advice. They also participate in the influence of MAIF externally, especially at the local level., with public authorities and associations. And on social networks, it is a real strength to have both employees and activists, who give us an opening to the outside.

On the organizational side, MAIF has two teams in charge of organizing membership: a first dedicated to facilitating activists (example: coordination of the network of activists in the field), and a second dedicated to mutual aid for actions for members (example: organization of conferences). Activists also have access to our corporate social network - under Yammer - where they can discuss in dedicated groups. 

Before leaving us, what is your assessment of the MAIF Social Club?

The MAIF Social Club is a unique place - both concept store, exhibition and conference space - and has already welcomed 100.000 visitors since it opened in 2017. Who are they? Families, students, school groups, curious people, contemporary art lovers, apprentice coders who attend our workshops, etc. A diversity of audiences, a reflection of the uniqueness of MAIF : a great openness to the world, a permanent questioning and the desire to participate in a better common. A very positive first assessment!

3 things to know about Cécile:

  • > She recommends us " The business of the XNUMXst century will be political or no longer »From Pascal Demurger, Managing Director of MAIF (editions of the Dawn). He provides proof of the effectiveness of the mutualist model.
  • > She also likes to read with her children, the guide Zero Waste ZenChildren of Jérémie Pichon, because we can be superheroes on a daily basis thanks to new behaviors. And this while having fun!
  • > She cries in front of the commercials. Her last tear? The film " We fight together, we win together "Amnesty International France signed DDB Paris ; also MAIF agency.
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