The benefits of wellness programs are well known — including lower health care costs and higher productivity. Yet, at large firms (more than 200 workers), employee participation in the programs hovers around 65%, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But, there’s a fix for that.

Brokerages small and large are finding that offering a branded wellness program gives it an identity, and in turn, utilization and engagement rises.

Branding of wellness programs is in part taking a cue from the marketing world, says Wendy Haan, senior vice president of Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Hope Health, a producer of health, wellness and business communications. “Without a strong brand, you will not get recognition amongst the audience. They will not recognize when communication comes through.”

It is all about creating an identity for the program, says Andrew Carr, health management product leader at Cleveland-based brokerage Oswald Companies. The Oswald wellness program is called Oswell. The specific identity helps with utilization, as branding provides an easily recognized consistent way to reach employees by “filtering through the information onslaught they have every day.”

To determine the branding of the Oswell wellness program, Oswald was particularly conscious of the cultures of their clients. Cheryl Agranovich, health management senior adviser at the brokerage, says the company thought about the Oswald name and what it means to them. They then turned to an in-house graphic design team for the logo.

Yet, she explains some clients still want their own brands, which Oswald’s graphic design team will help to create. A client, she explains, must also think about their own company’s culture, colors and keywords. With that information, Oswald’s team then presents a few choices to the client. It is important, Agranovich says, that the client thinks about what they are really trying to portray. She estimates 75% of her clients use the Oswell brand, while 25% go with their own branding.

Meanwhile, think about what message the branding will send. Creating a fun brand, for instance, makes wellness more fun, says Adam Cox, director of wellness at Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Heffernan Insurance Brokers of their Wellness@Work program. Overall, he says, “the best thing about it from a branding standpoint, its recognition. People want things they can trust.”

Increased sales

Many brokerages don’t brand their programs because they don’t realize the importance of it, adds Hope Health’s Haan. “They are so focused on getting a wellness program up and having something for their [clients] to use that the branding is not thought of,” she says. “They need to put [branding] on the forefront of their mind.”

Carr says it has helped his agency attract new clients. Branding helps emphasize to new clients the integration of benefits and health management, he says.

In turn, with health management on everybody’s mind, clients will more frequently question what you provide for wellness and if you have a brand behind it. Without a branded program, “that may be challenging to emphasize the value you are bringing forth that can be seen when a brand is there,” says Carr.

“It shows we are serious about this and invested in personnel behind it,” he adds. “ … We branded to show this is important to us. The energy, the vibrancy we have behind the brand.”

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