In a recent professional development seminar at Pack Health, American Family Care founder and physician, Dr. Bruce Irwin made a statement that really resonated with me. “Many bad health behaviors were brought into light by marketing campaigns. We need great marketing to keep reducing negative health decisions.” A simple statement, but it was right on the money.

With my Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a Master’s degree in public health, I started thinking more critically about how we engage and enroll employees who are eligible for Pack Health programs. Our implementation toolkit offers a robust introductory campaign. We make a point to share success stories every few months.  But are we missing out on opportunities to make healthy choices feel familiar?

Let’s Talk about Employee Wellness as a Brand.

The human brain intuitively recognizes patterns and places things into categories. This is how we recognize brands. For example, if I show someone the Netflix logo with completely different letters, they are likely still going to recognize it as the Netflix even if it spells out “Pickles”. It’s as though the image built a relationship with our subconscious. We’ve come to expect consistency in its colors, fonts, language, and layouts. We make a connection with those elements of consistency, even when the message changes. There is great power in this sense of a “brand”.

This concept was demonstrated in an article produced in The Archives Italiennes de Biologie: A Journal of Neuroscience. The study found that we not only recognize brands, but the brain can have an emotional response to brand recognition. A brand can initiate positive or negative neurological reactions. This knowledge creates an interesting and innovative foundation for developing employee wellness programs within a company’s brand or in the development of a separate brand for an employee wellness program.

The Evidence

A study in the Lancet assessed the outcomes of public health mass media campaigns in various health categories: chronic disease prevention, alcohol and other drugs, heart disease risk factors and more. The investigators concluded that mass media campaigns “can, directly and indirectly, produce positive changes or prevent negative changes in health-related behaviors across large populations.”

There are some factors that must be in place for the campaign to be successful. The availability of resources to make a positive health change are essential. For example, say your organization prints off the Hand Washing poster at the bottom of this post and posts it by the sinks in your office bathrooms. However, when the employee gets to the bathroom, there isn’t any soap in the dispenser. It’s going to be difficult for the employee to complete the desired health action of washing their hands because they do not have the tools required. Setting our team up for success physically and environmentally is a crucial element in creating an employee wellness brand.

The study also put forth that company policies and efforts that support positive health change can be extremely effective when paired with a media campaign. For example, say your organization is trying to improve movement because many of the employees are in sedentary positions. At a policy level, your company could incentivize employees to attend exercise events by giving them points towards their employee wellness program. You could also hold an afternoon yoga session once a month. From a communications standpoint, you could leverage online channels and physically post flyers to broadcast the time and place and highlight yoga’s benefits. With consistent imagery and styling, you start to create a narrative as a brand.

Can posters on a break room wall really have that much of an impact on employee engagement?

The research says yes, as long as it’s done in an intentional way. Let’s look at the Fogg Behavioral Model to explain this further. According to the model, in order for a change to occur, motivation, ability, and a trigger must occur at the same time. Motivation serves as the primary driver to persuade a person to engage in a change.

Using our yoga example from above, the opportunity to get employee wellness points would be the motivation. The second element, ability, focuses on the employee’s self-efficacy. Can they do this and how hard is it going to be? Having the class conveniently located and timed should solve that for able-bodied individuals. The final element of the model is a trigger. This is the call to action for the behavior change; the reminder that the resource is available. Having posters visually reminding the employees, as well as invitations made from other channels like social media, can be that trigger for participation.

Bridging the Gap

There is a common misconception behind the reasoning of why people do not make positive health changes; lack of motivation, lack of time, the list goes on. A large contributing factor for why people choose to not make positive health decisions, or less harmful decisions, is because they do not know how to make the change. Many companies are likely already providing employee wellness options: gym memberships, refillable water stations, and more. However, if an employee does not know these things are available or does not know how to access these options, they are not likely to utilize them.

Brand recognition of employee wellness offerings is a fundamental step in providing employees with the knowledge that will equip them to make healthy decisions. So where do you start?

Let’s start with something basic.

Today is National Hand Hygiene Day. The “wash your hands” poster is a familiar one, found in coffee shops and dining establishments across the nation. Here’s a version we designed to grace the walls of your bathroom. Using these can start to familiarize your employees with an employee wellness brand.

a screen shot of a person



Over the next few months, I will be sharing more posters like this one in our Newsroom. This is a free resource for you to post around the office to keep your employees thinking about their health.

If you’re interested in getting these posters sent to your inbox each month or getting a co-branded version customized to your company, fill out the form to the right!