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Top Takeaways for Branding Your Wellness Benefits and Creating a Great Employee Experience

November 15, 2012 / Corporate Wellness / Virgin Pulse

Did you know? More than 40% of employers have created a distinct wellness brand or identity in order to focus their employees’ attention on wellness initiatives and promote participation, according to Buck Consultants.  As this approach becomes more popular, the benefits become clearer.  Branding your employee health and wellness benefits can help to increase employee awareness of your programs, drive engagement in them, and most importantly, positively impact your employees’ health.

Whether you’re thinking through the implications of branding your employee health and wellness benefits or you’re simply trying to be more effective in communicating the programs you have in place, our recent webinar and white paper, Build a Brand They’ll Love:  How to Create a Compelling Employee Experience are excellent resources for not only evaluating the different approaches, but for learning simple tips to provide a great employee experience – no matter which approach you choose.  Both the webinar and the white paper feature the expertise of Mary Pitman, Health Promotions Manager at Norfolk Southern Corporation and Barrett Coakley, Senior Product Marketing Manager here at Virgin HealthMiles.  Read on for some of the top takeaways.

Branding Strategies
When we think about brands, we tend to think of strong consumer ones like Apple, Disney, Coke and Nike.  While it might seem foreign or overwhelming to approach your employee health and wellness benefits in this same manner, your employees are making a commitment of time and effort to learn about and participate in whatever programs you’re offering.   We all play the role of consumers at some point in our day and putting that mindset into your employee health and wellness brand and communications can very often provide the lift your programs need in getting more people to participate in them.  So, what are some things to consider when evaluating your branding options?

  • Using Your Company Brand – A clear benefit of using your own brand is that it’s instantly recognizable by your employees.  Given all of the time, money and effort that’s been put into creating and choosing the visual communication elements of your corporate brand, you’ll need to do less development work up front to extend it to your employee health and wellness benefits.  While this option’s clearly compelling, the natural appeal of these two factors needs to be considered in relation to what your brand stands for.  A brand that promotes unhealthy consumption or habits will be counter-intuitive to what you’re trying to accomplish with your health and wellness benefits, and it probably won’t resonate well with your employees in that context.
  • Creating a Health and Wellness Sub-Brand – While creating a sub-brand requires more up front work, it can help to eliminate employee confusion with your other benefits (like your 401(k)s, PTO, etc.) and shift the focus to your collective health and wellness offerings as opposed to the individual programs you may offer.  Norfolk Southern chose this route and branded their wellness program WellNS with simple, actionable messaging.  To learn how Norfolk Southern used a sub-brand to eliminate employee confusion and bring about positive results, check out the white paper and webinar recording.
  • Using a Third-Party’s Brand – Bringing in a third-party brand makes sense in circumstances where your company’s brand isn’t a good fit, but you don’t have the resources or desire to develop your own sub-brand.  The key things to keep in mind when assessing this option are how recognizable the brand is with your employees and whether it evokes a personality that’s conducive to helping them make healthy behavior changes.  Given that one of the reasons for branding your health and wellness benefits in the first place is to provide a clear and compelling experience for your employees, look for a third-party brand that will also give you the ability to unite all of your offerings under it.

Creating a Great Experience
Regardless of the branding option you choose, there are certain principles to keep in mind as you introduce and continuously communicate your health and wellness benefits to your employees.

  • Make it Easy to Understand – In our ever connected world, it’s getting harder to catch and hold peoples’ attention.  Make sure that whatever you offer is as clear and easy as possible for your employees to understand.  In Norfolk Southern’s case, Mary has the WellNS program promote four distinct things.  “I’ve got the power to know my health;’ ‘I’ve got the power to quit tobacco;’ ‘I’ve got the power to get active;’ and, ‘I’ve got the power to eat healthy.’ The messages are simple and actionable,” she stated.
  • Make it Meaningful – It’s important to communicate what employees will get from your programs, not necessarily what you’re offering.  Take an HRA (Health Risk Assessment), for example. It’s a tool for employees to understand the effects of their lifestyle choices and habits, it’s not simply a health questionnaire that they need to fill out.
  • Make it Recognizable – The more consistently and frequently a brand identity is used, the more familiar and recognizable it becomes.  Make sure whichever branding option you choose, you’re consistently using it throughout all of your communication channels– websites, emails, paycheck stuffers, posters and more.
  • Deliver on the Promise – More than creative concepts, your health and wellness brand needs to deliver on its promises to your employees.  Say your wellness brand is focused on choice. Make sure your employees find a broad array of programs and clear, easy choices on how to participate in them.

Companies offer great programs to help employees, but what’s available and how all these programs fit together isn’t always clear.  Having a brand that’s clear, simple and consistent helps employees better understand what’s available and become more engaged with your programs.  For even more tips on branding and creating a great employee experience, make sure to check out our webinar recording and white paper today.

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