Why health benefits company Gravie embraced the asterisk

The new company tagline is “More benefits. Fewer asterisks.”

MINNEAPOLIS: Rather than use an asterisk to add a caveat to an offer, Gravie, a health-benefits company, is highlighting the symbol to illustrate what one of its leaders says makes it different from health insurers. 

The new company tagline, which the brand is set to launch as part of a campaign on May 1, is “More benefits. Fewer asterisks.”

“In our industry, the asterisk represents something that is being omitted, something that is being taken away from you,” said Jeff Smokler, chief brand officer for Gravie.  “We were really intrigued by this idea of turning that upside down.”

The Minneapolis-based company launched in 2013 and recently received a $179 million investment from private equity firm General Atlantic. The group states that it offers “100% comprehensive coverage on the most common healthcare services, starting from day one.”

Gravie does not consider itself a health-insurance company. Instead, it uses the term “employer health-benefits company” to explain that it is essentially a third-party administrator for health-insurance benefits, “renting” from insurers like Aetna and Cigna, according to Twin Cities Business

The company has worked with Amazon delivery drivers and steel manufacturing plant workers, Smokler said.

Even though Gravie’s founders launched the company a decade ago, they have not conducted an awareness campaign, said Smokler, who joined in August 2022 after more than a decade at the agency Imre. 

“There's a lot of these startups in the health-plan space that had really high valuations because their revenue was really high, but once push came to shove, they found that their business models didn't support profitability,” Smokler said. “Before Gravie wanted to build awareness among the benefits community, meaning insurance brokers, and small and mid-sized business owners and [human resources] leaders, we knew we had to make sure that we had this business model right.”

For the new branding, the creatives designed a logo that features an asterisk as part of the letter “i” in the name, beside the new tagline. At the bottom of the page, next to an asterisk, the company asks, “What’s better than knowing you have reliable coverage when you need it?”

To promote the branding, the company is dividing its advertising budget among LinkedIn, programmatic ads and trade organizations like BenefitsPRO, Smokler said. 

The website also features a short film about a worker at a steel manufacturer, DCI, in Minnesota that used Gravie. He received a heart transplant, and his care was covered by Gravie, according to the film.

“I didn't want any of the traditional stock photography that appears on health plans’ websites,” Smokler said. “Every person, every video, every image you see [on the company’s] website is an actual Gravie member or an employee.”

Brand and design firm Creative Jordan worked on rebrand strategy. Fifteen4 developed the website, member documentaries and executive video series. Weber Shandwick was the AOR for the brand campaign. Bellmont Partners produced content and was the business-to-business media agency partner. 

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