I recently read an interesting article in Fast Company Magazine entitled, “Why Every Brand Now Needs to Behave Like a Health and Wellness Brand.”
Today, with kids going back to school and the virus still dominating parents concerns, questions we’ve never thought about before are commonplace: Are you healthy enough for me to want to hug? Do we do the elbow bump? Do you provide PPE—a term that used to mean Plant, Property and Equipment when I was in business school. Would you please stand no less than six feet away? Or, sorry, but I have to uninvite you because I’m afraid you may make me or my family sick.
Today, before we invite companies into our lives, we want to know if they will make us sick or help us stay healthy. That’s the key question and I ask you whether the answer to that is obvious to your clients from your website. We’re not just talking about brands like Listerine, Fitbit, and Peloton. We’re talking about every brand. The sooner a brand starts thinking like a health and wellness brand, the sooner it will find a pulse in our slowly opening economy.
Consider the calculus for buying an airline ticket. We used to ask, “Which airline will I fly?” That choice was based on price, schedule, and, for the select few, frequent-flier status. Today, the thinking part of our brain kicks in and the question becomes, “What will it take for me to fly?” “Can anyone fly me safely?”
So what can airlines do? United Airlines went the route of appropriating health and wellness by partnering with Cleveland Clinic and Clorox. Similarly, Hilton Hotels is partnering with Mayo Clinic and Lysol. For United, it was little more than a veneer—and completely lacking in empathy. Customers saw through it and looked to Delta. Delta promised to keep the seat next to you open and was the first to remove passengers for refusing to mask up. Even without a Clorox endorsement, Delta seems to be winning because the airline put people, not profits, first—a textbook health and wellness move. Trust and empathy, working together, to reignite travel.
If you’re wondering where your brand can start, here is our simple playbook most health and wellness brands follow:
Actions speak louder than words. What you do will always be more impactful than what you say. Make meaningful change in your products and services to support health and wellness, then advertise the hell out of that. We’ve all seen enough “We’re all in this together” ads. Now is the time to act.
Appeal to the head and the heart. In February, it was okay to be a purely functional brand. Think Kroger, JCPenney, and Southwest Airlines. Or, conversely, a brand focused purely on image, such as Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, or Ritz-Carlton. Today, success requires the correct calibration of both. Health and wellness brands do this naturally because they intrinsically offer functional transformation for something that is deeply meaningful: our health. This balance can work for every brand.
Intercept at the right moment. Throw out the traditional marketing playbook. We start our relationships with health and wellness brands during a moment of need—often an urgent one. When something hurts, you run to Dr. Google. Now, we do the same when we’re looking for a safe retailer, restaurant, or exterminator. (Or interior designer!) Marketing in the COVID era isn’t just about demographics; it’s about delivering the right content, service, or product at the right moment.
Don’t just make your brand a healthier version of what it was in February. This is an opportunity to reinvent it for the world of 2021 and beyond.
Design for the future. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” Who are your competitors of the future, not the past? Don’t just make your brand a healthier version of what it was in February. This is an opportunity to reinvent it for the world of 2021 and beyond.
There are endless examples of brands making smart, short-term changes: limiting patrons to promote social distancing, converting production lines to make hand sanitizer, adding the option of curbside pickup, designing masks, and adding new e-commerce options. Some of these changes will be lasting, but most will be fleeting.
The brands making big changes, however, are the ones most likely to see explosive growth as the economy finds its groove again.
These brands are reinventing themselves for the future—and health and wellness are now at their core.
There has never been a greater opportunity for the interior designer ready and willing to see the future of their industry, the future of their firms, and of course, their future selves!