A guide to wellness and digital marketing: Go further than comms into corporate methodology

If marketing ‘is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become’ (thanks Seth), then nowhere is that mission more pertinent than in helping people become ‘well’.

For a generation staring down the barrel of a career that might last 70 years, staying fit and well has never been more important. Wellness is cool. Getting smashed is not. You need your liver to function so you can pay down your student debt, get a mortgage by 40 and retire before your hips give out.

Increasingly, employees want to work for companies that understand their lives and how they want to balance them, and consumers want to buy products and support brands that help them manage the myriad of personal and professional responsibilities that make up their lives.

A 2018 Global Talent Trends survey revealed that most people would like to see a greater focus on well-being at their company, including an emphasis on physical, psychological and financial wellness.

No wonder a desire for fulfilment across all facets of our health is something that resonates with so many of us. Because when we talk about being ‘healthy’, it isn’t just a case of not having a cold. It’s a harmony of mind, body and spirit.

For brand marketers, a company that delivers a positive message about wellness can have huge appeal to a large customer base.

Wellness has exploded to become a cornerstone of contemporary culture, and that societal dialogue is manifesting in the way brands interact with customers. Examples: Michelob Ultra utilising ASMR for its Superbowl ad this year: spending millions of dollars to paint their beer brand with the wellness brush. And brands are favouring softer palettes in their comms (coral pink and ultraviolet are the last two Pantone ‘colours of the year’), which have known associations with being calming and encouraging relaxation.

Business leaders are beginning to base big decisions around these ideas, consciously or not, whether it be a choice on brand aesthetics or their entire comms strategy.

Why? For one, they are interested in the humanising affect the wellness aesthetic and language has on a brand. By considering health and mindfulness, they’re able to convey the humanity of a brand and connect meaningfully with customers, their needs and aspirations. And it appeals to the rising number of people favouring businesses that they believe to hold genuine, positive values. Common Industry worked with Starling Bank to launch #MAKEMONEYEQUAL, a financial feminism campaign that exposed the biased way men and women are spoken to about money. In the first week of the campaign, Starling saw close to 10,000 customer sign-ups, with a 200% increase in daily registrations. There are rewards in both ethical and business terms that come from taking a stance.

Adopting health-conscious values can also help to differentiate your brand from others. If nobody else, or few, are embracing the wellness aesthetic within a category, there is a unique opportunity to deposition the competition by becoming the ‘human’ brand.

A red flag must be shown, however, to brands jumping on to trends like wellness without backing up what you say with what you do.

You can’t just slap a bit of pastel colour on your ads, mention yoga and hope for the best. Speaking loudly and acting confidently around wellness must come from a credible place.

Is my brand adopting wellness in a purposeful and useful way?

Are we providing goods and services that can have, at least tangentially, a genuine impact on wellness and health?

An example of a brand doing this well is Monzo. They incorporate a lot of talk around mental health into their comms, but they have genuine credibility to - given that they work with the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to help guide their services.

Finally, it’s also important to consider the channels by which the message is distributed.

Brand safety is crucial. Even if it means taking a long, hard look at your systems of distribution and questioning programmatic as a means to an end, self-awareness is essential to us all as digital marketers, especially when landing a wellness message in an authentic way. If you base your campaign on health, it’s probably not a great look to end up on Breitbart and get called out by Sleeping Giants.

Wellness should go further than becoming part of your comms and become part of your corporate behaviour. Just remember to practice what you preach.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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