Updated: Apr 14
London-based fintech YuLife is on a mission to game-change the insurance sector by harnessing the latest tech and building a distinct and strong brand with fun and ethics at its core. To learn more about YuLife’s gamification strategy and branding efforts, we interviewed Sammy Rubin, CEO and Founder of YuLife.
"At YuLife, our brand is as holistic as the change we seek to bring about in members’ lifestyles." Sammy Rubin, CEO and Founder of YuLife
What is YuLife?
Founded in 2016, YuLife is a London-based insurtech startup that is aiming to change the perception about traditional life insurance by inspiring life and rewarding healthy lifestyle and wellness. To achieve this, the company has developed and introduced the YuLife app - an innovative, game-changing digital application that encourages people to take care of themselves in a fun and engaging way, with online wellness competitions and rewards in the form of discounts and vouchers from popular UK brands.
“YuLife is the tech-based insurance company on a mission to inspire life. We aim to use financial products as a force for good, not only boosting policyholders’ financial wellbeing but also encouraging our members to adopt habits that enhance their physical and mental health. For example, YuLife members are equipped with an engaging, game-like app through which they can earn rewards and discounts from the UK’s biggest brands in return for completing everyday wellness challenges, like walking, cycling, meditation and mindfulness – thus creating a tangible incentive for healthy living. We’re making life insurance accessible and even enjoyable for thousands of SMEs which otherwise wouldn’t have thought of offering employees life cover.”
Gamification as an insurance marketing tool
A key element of YuLife’s go-to-market strategy was the use of gamification. But what is gamification?
Simply put, gamification is the process of applying gaming principles and methods to other aspects of life. In marketing, gamification strategies are considered to be particularly effective for influencing consumer behaviour because they tap into people’s natural human needs and desires for entertainment, social interaction, competition and rewards.
Inspired by YuLife’s CTO Josh Hart, who is an avid gamer and keen app developer, the company’s founding team decided to challenge the status quo and started questioning:
“What if people turned up at the office and felt the same sense of thrill they feel when playing a game? What if we could make health and wellbeing into a gamified experience that people would enjoy and engage with, leading to a lasting lifestyle change?”
And that’s how the idea of developing a YuLife game app was born.
For the design of its game app, YuLife followed the BJ Fogg behaviour model. According to the BJ Fogg approach, in order for people to adopt any given behavioural habit, the action needs to meet 3 key criteria: it needs to be accessible, it needs to be simple and there needs to be a trigger.
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In the case of insurance, products are traditionally seen as very complicated and not easily accessible, and are usually triggered by specific life events like buying a house or having a child. Attracting, motivating and engaging customers is hence proving to be a real challenge for insurance providers. But, YuLife has managed to tackle this by applying the principle of gamification and “providing an engaging trigger which makes people see the worth of insurance policies, while also offering packages that are accessible and easy to use.”
Yugi and the importance of branding
Another core aspect of YuLife’s marketing playbook is branding. In a fiercely competitive space like the insurance sector, differentiating is critical and extremely challenging at the same time. Especially for a new startup that lacks credibility. One way to tackle this is to create a unique and recognisable brand identity. And that’s exactly what YuLife has done with their brand mascot Yugi, the giraffe.
Having a mascot is a great way to bring your brand to life and establish an emotional connection with your target audience. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Management in 2013, “Brand mascots reflect a deeply rooted human tendency to understand the world through anthropomorphic objects.”
“Yugi, the giraffe, is our brand ambassador. Not many people know that giraffes are the land mammal with the biggest hearts, and care and compassion are at the core of how we operate as a company. Yugi emerges at various stages of the app’s virtual world, accompanying members on their ongoing wellness journey.”
But, YuLife’s branding goes beyond distinct colours, fonts and imagery.
“At YuLife, our brand is as holistic as the change we seek to bring about in members’ lifestyles. We want the companies we work with to know that we’re not a typical life insurance provider; whereas traditionally life insurance has been little more than death coverage, we’re switching the focus to life itself by encouraging members to live healthier and happier lives. We’re a life insurer that focuses on new trends, harnessing the latest tech including gamification, AI-based insights and app development, to deliver a constantly engaging product with minimal paperwork.”
YuLife’s growth engine
Last year, YuLife raised £10m in Series A funding. According to Rubin roughly 5% of this is currently being invested in marketing, with a major focus on growth. Hence, the company’s overall marketing strategy is built around the following 3 key pillars: brand awareness, product education and validation of YuLife’s insurance value proposition.
“We develop our marketing strategy in partnership with sales so it fills the sales funnel, drives brand awareness, delivers world-class products and creates the sales tools required to go-to-market effectively.”
In terms of tactics, YuLife has taken a data-driven, multi-channel approach to marketing including paid advertising, account-based email campaigns, virtual events, PR and inbound lead generation techniques.
“We have focused on building a data-driven lead management approach from lead scoring to account-based hyper-targeted emails campaigns and virtual events. Equally we invested in building our position in the market as the “Challenger InsurTech Brand” brand recently recognised in the prestigious FinTech 50.
Our PR and thought leadership is a vital part of our approach to marketing. Over recent months, top-tier mainstream publications have quoted YuLife executives or published details of research commissioned by YuLife. Our executives have also contributed bylined articles to leading insurance trade, HR and wellness outlets. We have been educating the market regarding the need for a new approach to insurance as well as elevating the awareness of YuLife’s unique offering.”
What’s next for YuLife?
With plans to expand internationally through strategic partnerships and to deepen its product lines, YuLife’s future looks bright.
“Our mission is to enhance financial, physical and mental wellbeing all in one go, which is an endless task, but as long as office life remains characterized by burnout and low levels of engagement we’ll aim to stretch Yugi’s legs as far as we can.”
About Sammy Rubin: Sammy is the founder and CEO of YuLife, the world’s first lifestyle insurance company that provides life insurance, wellbeing, and rewards in one simple app. He originally built Policy Portfolio plc, the first market maker in traded endowments and led the flotation of the company on the full London Stock Exchange. He then went on to become the founding CEO of PruProtect (now VitalityLife), which was the first life insurance company in the UK to reward healthy living.