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"CMO talk" with Superscript’s Mai Fenton: How to scale and rebrand an insurtech during a crisis

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

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Mai Fenton Superscript

“We have a fantastic culture at Superscript and our people are fundamental to the company’s success. Our rapid scaling will no doubt present challenges in preserving our culture, especially in a remote working environment. Our culture is something I deeply care about and aim to continue to foster as we scale up.” Mai Fenton, CMO at Superscript

In the pilot edition of our new “CMO talk” series, we’re speaking with Mai Fenton, CMO at the London-based insurtech scaleup Superscript. Previously called Digital Risks, the company was co-founded by Cameron Shearer (CEO) and Ben Rose (Chief Underwriting Officer) in 2015. In July this year, Digital Risks became Superscript and went through a complete rebrand, and Mai was at the helm of this strategic initiative.

Mai joined Superscript and the insurtech industry in 2019, after a successful career in the retail, e-commerce and FMCG industries, with more than 20 years of experience in Branding, Digital and Strategic Marketing.

About her move to the insurance technology sector and the challenges of being a CMO of a fast-growing fintech startup, Mai says:

“Moving to the fintech/insurtech world brings a different experience, due to the tight regulations in this space. In insurtech, the supply-chain is rather complex, so all departments need to work in unison throughout to deliver the perfect end product to the customer. Underwriting, product development, pricing, online and quote experience, customer support, marketing communications and so on are tightly knit end to end. This is different from what I’ve experienced in other sectors.”

“Being the CMO of a fast-growth startup couldn’t be more exciting! It’s quite an art of balancing short- and long-term objectives, strategising for the future and concurrently delivering day to day results with operational excellence, while at the same time building teams. The pace of work is incredible, but we have talented, passionate and creative people who believe in our mission and collaborate really well to deliver above and beyond, with agility.”


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The story behind Superscript’s rebranding

Digital Risks was originally established to provide an alternative insurance product for small digital businesses that needed a more cost-effective, flexible and personalised solution. To create modern business insurance for the new digital age.

Fast forward to 2020, the company has extended its initial proposition beyond the digital sector to serve over 1,000 different businesses across a broad range of industries. As Digital Risks entered a new stage of rapid growth, it quickly realised that its brand and identity were falling behind the business’s evolution and needed a refresh.

To assist with the rebranding process, the company appointed the leading branding consultancy Siegel+Gale. After an extensive introductory workshop with Mai and her team, Siegel+Gale kicked off the project with a series of in-depth interviews with both key internal and external stakeholders. The main goals of the interviews were to “get under the skin of the company and its values”, and identify the “connective tissue that ran through both the existing brand and the needs of all future audiences”.

Mai was also adamant about the need to actively involve the company’s founding team in the process to ensure that the new brand sticks to their long-term vision for the business. As well as the need to truly understand the customer target audience so that the new brand purpose can fully resonate with its exact needs and perceptions.

“The objective of the rebrand was to translate our purpose into a new name and new visual and verbal identity that better resonates with all SMEs of all sizes, whatever their goals and regardless of their business type.” said Mai.

Superscript Asterisk
Image source: Superscript

What does the new “Superscript” brand stand for?

One of the key assets of the new “Superscript” brand is the name. Re-naming a business is a big and uneasy move and requires a lot of thought. Around a hundred potential names were generated throughout the company's naming process. After a thorough look at the emotions behind character composition and people’s common associations with certain sounds and words, Mai and the team chose the name “Superscript” that means a small character that’s set above the line, as it seemed to perfectly resonate with the company’s overall purpose: to set higher insurance standards for businesses, regardless of their type, size or industry, and giving them the freedom to focus on what they do best.

“We wanted a name that was modern, universal, punchy and bold yet sophisticated, but above all, a name that stands out in the world of insurance as different. It had to break the mould. It had to set us apart. We loved Superscript for these reasons, and also because it had so much meaning, and embodied our whole purpose and reason for being.” said Mai.

Another key element of the visual identity of Superscript is “the asterisk”, its brand symbol. The idea about the asterisk was inspired by something rather typical for the insurance industry – the small print. Often hard to read and overlooked, the small print is critical. Superscript’s bold asterisk illustrates the company’s commitment to transparency and simplicity, and its promise to change the industry for good.

When asked about her favourite aspect of Superscript’s new brand, Mai said:

“From a naming standpoint, I love that Superscript breaks category norms yet has a strong, relevant meaning: it’s a metaphor for our purpose - to elevate our customers' needs and set higher standards in business insurance. That said, beyond the name, our whole brand identity stands out from the standard category language: from the colour palette - mint green in a market dominated by blues and reds; to our use of large print in an elegant, unusual font; and our photography style. We’ve also translated the Superscript mark into a clever brand symbol (a stylised asterisk raised above a line) - because we don’t do hidden, small print.”

How has the COVID crisis affected Superscript’s rebranding?

According to Mai, the crisis hasn’t had a major impact on the overall rebranding process. The biggest challenge for the team behind the project was the need to run all communications and collaboration workshops remotely.

“Our rebranding process wasn’t affected by the pandemic other than all our meetings having to take place remotely. We appointed branding consultancy Siegel+Gale a few weeks before the first national lockdown. With such a rebrand process requiring a large amount of creativity and engagement from both parties through numerous workshops, doing it all remotely was perhaps more challenging, but there was such focus and energy that in the end, it didn’t affect any of the outcome or timing.”

With regards to the activation campaign of the rebrand, though, Mai had to change her initial media strategy and focus more on audio and digital channels due to the pandemic-related travel restrictions and social distancing measures.

“We were able to carry on as planned with the creative development of our brand campaign (including our own photoshoot in five locations across London), however, I modified our channel selection. Though we ran an outdoor campaign in September and October to gain broad awareness of the new brand and our proposition (which concluded the day before the second national lockdown), the media plan was otherwise heavily weighted towards audio and digital channels - less sensitive to people’s restricted movements and more attuned to the increasing working-from-home behaviour.”

In terms of creatives, Mai wanted the campaign to stand out and bring personality to a category that historically lacks any. It had to be unexpected, bright and bold - yet human. Recognising that every small business grows one step at a time. With a modest media budget, it also needed to work hard to be attention-grabbing and memorable, yet super-relatable. Hence, Superscript’s first national branding campaign was designed to provoke emotions and build a strong connection with its target audience, with bold and harmonic visuals and tonally different messaging that is in line with the company’s unique brand personality and core values of being unafraid, unassuming, unexpected and unstoppable.

Superscript advertising banners
Image source: Superscript

What’s next for Superscript?

After its successful series A round in February and the follow-on £8.5m funding in October, Superscript is planning to invest more in developing its proprietary technology, product and customer experience, and in doubling its workforce by the end of next year.

“Our latest funding round and the follow-on investment will enable us to invest in further developing our technology, product and customer experience. We have lots on our product roadmap - but nothing that I am able to share yet! The funding will also allow us to double our workforce in the next 12 months, to support our continued growth.”


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