Guardian Dental - competitive differentiation

of one

Brand Messaging Comparison - Metlife, Delta Dental, and Principle

As the only pure-play dental insurance company, Delta Dental differentiates itself by its focus on the consumer's smile, and by its promotion of its experience and dental expertise. Principal, which is targeted specifically to employers offering group insurance plans, highlights its capacity, as a finance-oriented company, to help the consumer/employer find the right dental plan 'investment' that will pay off financially in the long-term. Metlife's tagline 'Navigating Life Together' is appropriately broad for an insurance carrier which offers comprehensive insurance; and this broad, insurance-based approach is mirrored in its dental plan emphasis on good dental health and cost savings.

Please note that Delta Dental has been the subject of historical coverage in advertising case studies and other media coverage relative to its branding and marketing campaigns. Extensive research, including research using custom search engines specific to advertising, indicates that similar coverage is lacking for the dental aspects of Metlife and Principal. The general brand positioning for these companies has been included and analyzed where is relevant to the dental aspect. Below, you'll find an in-depth analysis of relevant findings.


Delta Dental differentiates itself based on two complementary, dental-specific aspects: the consumer's smile and health, and Delta Dental's expertise, which it neatly sums up via the statement "Delta Dental protects more smiles than any other dental insurance company." This emphasis on dental expertise is further bolstered by its extensive online oral health library, which is written by medical experts and vetted by its external National Scientific Advisory Committee (NSAC). Its stated core purpose as a not-for-profit organization is "the advancement of the oral health of our customers, partners and consumers."

Please note that 1) one of the advertising campaigns below is quite dated, and 2) these campaign examples are state-specific. However, as the older brand messaging and the state-specific campaigns are consistent with the company's current brand positioning, these sources remain relevant as supporting examples.

The Power of Smile campaign in Minnesota was profiled in an advertising case study of a social media campaign with stellar engagement results. The focus of the campaign is on sharing a smile, and was routed through both the website and Instagram.

The Our Wisdom is Teeth campaign in Illinois highlights Delta Dental's "expertise gained through experience," and is targeted to end-use consumers. Targeting this audience represents a significant shift in the company's sales message, which historically had been targeted to businesses (i.e., employers). In this particular campaign, 'smart' was a key focus word: the company was positioned as 'smart' via its expertise, and the consumer was "encouraged to 'be a smart mouth'" by choosing Delta Dental.

As noted above, Dental Delta of Illinois has successfully used digital and social media engagement as a marketing tool. Multiple recent Facebook posts for the parent company highlight the website's Dental Care Cost Estimator, which is also prominent on the Delta Dental home page and which allows the consumer to estimate the cost in their area for a given treatment. By prioritizing a key element of concern for dental consumers, this indirectly supports both elements of its brand position: that of being focused purely on dental health, and providing unique expertise. Instagram accounts are state-specific, but a sampling of various state-specific Delta Dental Instagram accounts indicates that Instagram brand messaging is generally consistent with the parent company brand positioning of being the expert in the industry.


Principal is a financial services group whose primary focus is financial services and investment. Its stated purpose is "to give you [the consumer] the financial tools, resources and information you need to live your best life." Unlike Metlife and Delta Dental, Principal offers only group dental insurance, so its sales messaging for dental insurance is specifically targeted to employers.

In the website copy specific to dental, its messaging focuses on the financial benefits of offering dental coverage as part of a group insurance plan, particularly that of being a 'worthwhile investment' that helps the customer/employer retain top talent. It also highlights the financial flexibility that its customizable dental plans offer for the employer. Its sales message promotes the size of its network - "one of the largest in the industry" - and its significant presence in metropolitan areas.

While its Facebook business page is quite active, all the recent activity is focused on financial topics, which can be reasonably assumed to be its general orientation in Facebook posting.


MetLife's tagline "Navigating Life Together" highlights its broad brand message of offering insurance coverage for all aspects of life, and is conspicuously displaced both on its website home page and its Facebook page. This is a relatively new shift in its brand image, and is part of a rebrand that occurred in 2016. Although media coverage indicates that the company is moving away from individual insurance and towards a focus on corporate clients, its current positioning as a "partner you can trust to help navigate life's twists and turns—without the hassles you've come to expect from a financial services company" is a message that could be equally appealing to both individual and corporate customers.

Its new brand message heavily emphasizes a customer-centric orientation, and a dedication to modernization and innovation. Its positioning specific to dental is its ability to combine good dental health with cost-savings, which is in alignment with its 'comprehensive insurance company' image.

MeLife's Facebook page is very active, mostly with posts from The MetLife Blog on a wide variety of subjects, but no recent posts were specific to dental. This wide variety of post topics is also consistent with the general tone of its website brand positioning.

Overall, given MetLife's 'comprehensive insurance' provider brand positioning and the lack of detailed information or advertising specific to its dental insurance plans, it is reasonable to assume that its dental aspect is a supporting part of its comprehensive image.


Each of these three companies promotes themselves with a clear differentiation: Delta Dental as the pure-play dental expert; Principal as the financial adviser that includes insurance coverage in financial planning; and MetLife as the comprehensive insurance 'partner' with the consumer through life's challenges. All social activity is consistent with each brand's positioning and message, though only Delta Dental has an identifiable social media presence that highlights its dental capacity.