Blue Shield of California
DOES HEALTH INSURANCE HAVE TO BE SUCH A PAIN?
California is one of two states where Blue Cross and Blue Shield are separate, competing companies. Most people in the Golden State didn’t know this fact, and more importantly, they didn’t care. To them, health insurance companies were all the same — untrustworthy and frustrating.
So in 2007, years before Obamacare and the endless attempts to repeal it, Blue Shield began a mission to make things easier for customers. The first item on our long to-do list was to change how Blue Shield communicated.
IT’S A NOUN! IT’S A VERB! IT’S A SHIELD!
We realized the word “shield” had multiple meanings. It was shorthand for the company name. It also meant protection, which is exactly what insurance offered. The designers made a shield icon, and I wrote a ton of short, iconic shield phrases to use throughout the new messaging. Visually, this distinguished Blue Shield from Blue Cross. And tonally, it was like using an emoji — fun and concise.
HOW FAST CAN YOU REACH A REP?
For Blue Shield to take the hassle out of health insurance, it first had to acknowledge customer concerns. Part of the honest, more empathic tone meant anticipating their questions and making information easy to find and digest with clear headers and short, succinct sentences.
IS EVERYBODY ON BOARD?
When companies make a major strategy shift, the culture needs to change, too. Often that’s the hardest part because culture change has to be a movement from within the organization. I didn’t know that at the time, so I wrote a few video scripts as conversation starters. But even in my first professional job, I was learning that change involves more than a visual makeover or clever headlines.
People wanted to embody the new brand and mission, but it wasn’t easy. Being in-house, I saw colleagues in other departments wrestle with complicated rules and interfaces that kept them from delivering ease to customers. I began to wonder how behaviors could be changed, how cultures could thrive, and how systems could be designed to support people.
The path I’ve taken since — becoming a student of design, writing culture-transforming narratives for Fortune 500s, and working in digital to make interactions useful, intuitive, and interesting — have all been inspired by this experience. If you’re looking for a narrative arc, there’s mine.
Strategists: Doug Biehn, Kimball Wilkins
Creative Director: Matteo Vianello
Designers: Dolly Chen, Silvia Illingworth, Matthew Oscar
Implementation: Layne Moon, Karen Clark
Director: John Wilkins
Actor: Andy Alabran
Post Production: Teak San Francisco