Why Great-West Lifeco consolidated its brands into Canada Life

Insurance company Great-West Lifeco is consolidating its three Canadian life insurance brands—Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life—under the Canada Life banner.

In a conference call outlining the change Wednesday morning, Great-West Lifeco president and CEO Paul Mahon said that while all three of its insurance brands possess strong brand equity (they range in age from 172 years to 128 years), the company chose Canada Life as its master-brand largely on the basis of its name.

“If you’re going to have a single brand that’s going to be your voice across Canada, being able to leverage your country’s name is important,” said Mahon, noting the success of the company’s Irish Life brand in Ireland.

Mahoun said the Canada Life brand also performed best in testing with consumers and insurance advisor groups. “We recognize the importance of porting the brand equity we have in a brand like Great-West Life over to Canada Life, but we fundamentally believe this is the strongest foot it can put us on moving forward,” he said.

Mahoun told analysts the move will have no material impact on Great-West’s business, but said it will enable the company to improve both its marketing efficiency and product development.

“One of the things this will allow us to do is take our spend in Canada and have it be far more focused on innovation, driving change and differentiation and the marketing messages and branding we do,” he said. “This is a growth play, this is getting ourselves positioned where we can be faster to market, we can drive innovation more quickly and implement things more effectively.”

He said that the move is partly in response to the myriad ways consumers regard brands. “They’ll be looking at social channels, advertising and how you position yourself,” he said. “We think one strong voice across Canada, recognizing all of the access points we have will be a significant benefit for us.”

Great-West Lifeco’s U.S. and European businesses, as well as brands including Freedom 55 Financial, GWL Realty Advisors and GLC Asset Management Group, are unaffected by the change, the company said.

Chris Powell