Elevating a truly people-first insurance brand


After more than 90 years in business, global insurance provider Markel continues to expand globally and receive industry recognition. Following a long period of growth, the business was challenged with aligning their brand to reflect who they’d become – and signal where they were headed next. Markel first trusted Saffron with their brand in 2011 and approached us once again at a pivotal moment to help shape its legacy.

From jitney buses to global Fortune 500

Founded in 1930, Markel Group, Inc. began with insuring jitney buses in smalltown Norfolk, Virginia, USA. After nearly a century, it’s grown into a global Fortune 500 family of companies and investments. At the core of Markel Group sits Markel, its specialty insurance business powered by nearly 5,000 people and protecting everything from cargo ships to wind farms to sports stadiums all around the world.

Laying the groundwork with a new brand positioning

To understand how Markel’s brand could better support the needs of the insurance business and its key audiences, Saffron performed extensive research including brand perception evaluations with 70 brokers around the world, in-depth interviews with nearly 100 Markel employees, as well as a company-wide quantitative survey.

Through our research, it became clear that Markel’s values-driven culture and service-led spirit (what it refers to as the ‘Markel Style’) were its truly differentiating qualities. In a category where consolidation is rife and few firms are becoming more powerful, they stand out by putting employees, brokers, and clients first as a long-term, committed partner who’s there when needed most.

To communicate this ‘People Powered’ ethos in a clearer and more compelling way, we worked closely with their team to put the Markel Style at the heart of the new brand positioning.

Symbolising relationships with warmth and sophistication

Saffron created a vibrant, expressive visual language with an uplifting colour device to transmit the personality of the new brand positioning. The warm visual identity features natural light and gestures in interactive environments, symbolising the power of relationships with sophistication and optimism.

Acknowledging the insurance division’s importance in the foundation and evolution of the holding company, Markel maintains the decades-old logo with some revision. By refining the brand’s iconic three bar symbol and detaching it from the wordmark, it functions in digital environments and signals Markel’s adaptability and ambition for the future.

The Markel wordmark was revisited to bring clarity and personality while sustaining the connection to the company’s past. We repurposed the existing corporate typeface and built a bespoke, open and humanistic typeface that signals Markel’s new voice and alludes to its legacy.

It doesn’t look like an insurance brand but it looks like us.


Bringing the new brand to life, from the inside out

For Markel to authentically live up to its People Powered brand idea, it needed to codify its culture and galvanise the people pushing it forward. We worked closely with the HR and Communications and Brand Engagement teams to take a holistic view of their employee journey and translate the new brand strategy into a compelling employee value proposition (EVP). Together, we crafted an EVP championing the unique spirit and power of Markel’s culture and celebrating the collective mark its people make on the world.

The EVP is brought to life through a new global brand ambassador program. The program equips Markel’s people with the tools and confidence they need to serve customers, partners, and communities while building a lasting impact.

The new brand identity for Markel ensures that we’re well equipped to help our customers, colleagues and shareholders win in the long term. Our work together with Saffron helps us create greater clarity as we continue our journey to become a leading global specialty insurer.

Jeremy Noble

President of Markel