Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hospital Branding: At the Intersection of Healthy and Happy

Each year, J. Walter Thompson Company (JWT) releases a major study on the key upcoming trends impacting the business of marketing and advertising. This year's list is comprised of some you'd expect, but others that are new and very relevant to today's lifestyles - for example, "intelligent objects," "predictive personalization," the "sensory explosion," and "the mobile fingerprint."

Also on this year's list is a trend which has great implications for the healthcare industry: the correlation between health and happiness and the scientific findings which support this relationship.  Among them:
  • Researchers at University College London have found that happiness improves the functioning of key biological processes.
  • Research has shown that more optimistic people are up to 50% less likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke.
  • A study on "flourishing" published in the American Journal of Public Health links positive mental health with longevity.
  • Wayne State University (2010) researchers published a study showing a correlation between longevity and propensity toward a so-called Duchenne smile (an expression of genuinely positive emotion).
  • Happiness and mental health improve in direct correlation with consumption of healthy foods - specifically, fruits and vegetables according to a recent study from National Bureau of Economic Research.
These findings are also validated by consumer studies among American and British adults who cite the following:
  • 62% say "feeling healthy" is an important part of being a happy person
  • 90% agree that happiness can have a positive impact on your health
  • 84% say being happy is an important part of being healthy
(Source:  JWT)

Brands Jumping on the Health-Happiness Bandwagon

The connection between health and happiness has not gone unnoticed by several global brands in the wellness, nutrition, and healthcare space. Building off its tagline, "It's amazing what soup can do," Campbell's Soup launched a campaign in 2011 that showcases consumers on the "road to happiness" due to the nutrition, ingredients, energy, and dietary benefits their products can provide. 

Special K, long positioned as a health and diet cereal, moved away from the aspirational goal of reaching an ideal weight and instead focused on the positive emotions that weight loss can bring, using words like "confidence, "moxie," "sass," and "joy" in its communications strategy.

And my personal favorite, Walgreen's, is putting itself right on the "corner of Happy & Healthy" in a campaign launched last fall.  With the music of CCR's "Down on the Corner" playing in the background, the TV commercials inform us that the founder Charles Walgreen "had a mission to help people be happy and healthy."  The drugstore chain is aiming to expand from a drugstore to a lifestyle store.

How can Hospital Brands Elevate the Connection Between Health and Happiness?

The connection between health and happiness is a natural one for hospital brands and their strategic messaging.  After all, isn't the end-benefit of the services they provide the opportunity to return to an active, healthy, and happier life?  Too many hospital brands still stir consumer anxiety and focus on negatives (what consumers should avoid or fear); versus focusing on positive solutions with messaging that advances health and/or happiness.  This is what we call "chest beat" versus "heartbeat" - see blog post here:  http://www.hospitalbranding.blogspot.com/2012/06/difference-between-branding-and-selling.html

West Georgia Health in LaGrange, Georgia, working with Springboard Brand and Creative Strategy, recently launched a new branding campaign that perfectly captures the correlation between happy and healthy.  Jan Nichols, West Georgia Health Marketing Director says, "Long before the Affordable Care Act emphasized preventive care, our mission at West Georgia Health reflected a partnership with patients with an advocacy for wellness.  Our new branding campaign, "So Healthy Together," connects health and happiness through the musical bed (an adaptation of "So Happy Together" by the Turtles) incorporated into our broadcast messaging and the "sunshine" graphics of our identity featured in print and digital media.  We have had numerous members of our community tell us that our campaign makes them smile, hum the tune, and inspires them to take a walk, ride a bike, or play with their dog - all things that support their quest for a healthier and happier life."

As you evaluate your brand strategy, consider ways you can motivate consumers to accomplish their health and happiness goals.  Look for new products and services that help facilitate a healthier and happier lifestyle rather than just providing a "solution" to their medical problems. This upcoming trend is a great one for hospital brands to get behind.  The more consumers see your hospital brand at the "corner of healthy and happy," the more loyalty to it they'll have and the more they'll sing your tune (or hum your jingle).


Rob Rosenberg is President of Springboard Brand and Creative Strategy, a brand strategy and communications firm located in the Chicagoland area. For more information on Springboard or to discuss this and other ideas, please contact Rob at 847.398.4920 or rob@springboardbrand.com