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Building immunity for your brand

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A guide to strengthening immunity for your brand in a cluttered and disrupted market.

"Brands draw their power from three sources: Science (insights generation and performance measurement), art (creativity), and craft (management and execution). In times of rapid change, strong brands particularly need the benefits of these robust foundations: a deep understanding of customers and the market based on rigorously tested concepts, a clear purpose brought to life by creativity, and an inspiring brand experience delivered consistently across all touchpoints to drive both brand perception and business performance"—McKinsey.

How a strong brand positioning builds immunity for your brand

Consumers seeking immune health support may have little understanding of what it is, or how it works, beyond the usual taking vitamin C to fight off a cold during winter.  A strong brand position is the lighthouse that guides consumers through the dense waters of unlimited information online, firstly to find trusted information and then to find information which educates and empowers them sufficiently to take action. Brands selling immunity with a strong market/brand position based on a clear distinctive point of view, backed up by evidence, stand to win. The position should be distinctive and position the brand as a thought leader, a differentiator. It should also be easily understood and recognisable. The mechanics of immune health are far less understood or mainstream than arthritis for example, which for years has been a focus for natural therapies. The brand that can deliver immune health products that educates people, presents quality products that are efficacious and underpinned by science, and is consistent in terms of brand experience, from bottle to shelf,  will rise above the rest.

How do you create a strong brand position?

1. Establish your unique selling proposition (USP)

Establishing a USP for a product, for example a patented probiotic strain, helps to set a brand apart from its competition. Leveraging the USP across all communications, assets, and channels keeps reinforcing the same message that builds knowledge and gives the audience a reason to choose a brand’s product over others. That message needs to be distilled down into relatable, informative and repeatable soundbites, over and over again to empower a consumer to take action and lean in towards the brand.

"A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is."—Scott Cook, Intuit Founder

2. Understand your audience

A strong brand meets consumers on their terms—time, space, and channel, with information that provides a true value exchange. Getting to grips with what problem the audience is trying to fix—be it immune health of a newborn baby, to a new mother seeking to build immunity, to a senior, or baby boomer who is experiencing the effects of decades of poor eating and poor lifestyle choices. These are the consumer challenges we need to understand. From there, we need to educate the consumer about the specific challenge and how they unpack it, using lifestyle and nutritional modification, as well as the support of an immune product. Be sure to understand the following: How and where do they acquire their health information—via social channels, podcasts or online news portals? What do they value in terms of education—deep detail or light touch key messaging? Listen deeply to the audience. Use data wisely to identify their pain points, keep evolving the messaging and understand their hopes, fears, and lifestyle.

3. Knowing your health communication barriers

A strong brand identifies and develops strategies to overcome health communication barriers. Do your customers understand the information they need to make informed decisions? Do they know how to evaluate the quality of health information? A strong brand builds a communication strategy around the health literacy of its audience.

4. Be consistent and focused in your messaging

By establishing an overarching, single-minded brand platform that guides all brand activities, you will develop a strong, consistent message that brings your brand to life. The platform needs to be drawn from an insight about the audience and audience behaviour. Be it the balance between what nature gives us in the microbiome and how we then nurture our body, with healthy foods, a healthy lifestyle and potentially supplements. A single-minded platform enables all messaging to ladder up to that, and delivers an over-arching and recognisable story that gets repeated over and over in all channels—social, PR and point of purchase.

5. Combine emotional and science

When consumers are feeling unwell, they seek immune products that work in unison with their lifestyle changes, with science to support the approach. Use emotional storytelling to build a connection with the audience, which marries the outcome an immune product may deliver—for example, the ability to live life with optimal health, if one is a baby boomer. Be sure to flex the brand’s scientific muscle to build trust and authority.

How do we position health brands for long term success in a sceptical market?

1. Empower consumers

Let the science behind your brand and products speak for themselves. Deliver scientific knowledge in an understandable, relatable way to help consumers make an informed decision.  This in itself can make the difference between the choice between your brand or others. Include the science across as many assets as possible including owned digital, social and PR.

2. Be transparent

Be 100% transparent in brand storytelling—from bottle to shelf. Let your consumers know precisely what you are selling them, coupled with a clear understanding of the brand’s values and what you are doing to address issues important to them. In the world of probiotics for example, the number of strains, quality and relevance for each health condition is paramount to efficacy of the product. Detailed information should be included in each communication asset, showing value, building trust and relevance.  Transparency lets you control the message and prevents knowledge gaps from being filled by an uninformed audience.

"Millennial and Gen Z consumers will support smaller, local business but won't hesitate to penalise companies whose values conflict with their own. 38% of millennials deepened relationships with companies that positively impacted the environment, and 33% preferred companies that balanced doing good and making a profit."—Deloitte[1]

3. Engage industry leaders and influencers

Engaging key opinion leaders and influencers in healthcare communications helps brands present complex information in a relatable way, at the same time as building trust and authority.  Be sure to have a clear understanding of regulatory guidelines associated with engaging healthcare practitioners as part of healthcare programs.

4. Illuminate the path-to-purchase

Mapping out the consumer' journey helps a brand develop clear path-to-purchase messaging across key touchpoints, reinforcing your brand's reliability and trustworthiness, ensuring a suitable level of knowledge sharing is made appropriately at different stages during their path to purchase. For new mothers seeking to support their baby's health, they are likely spending time online, often in forums, at times when baby is generally asleep. Post commentary, or content at that time, or just before so you catch them in that moment. Make sure to have a presence in the spaces that matter most to them with messaging which is easily digestible—infographics, listicles, short snackable content that cuts to the heart of the immunity message.

5. Create a strong amplification strategy

In a world saturated with content, audiences are awash with opportunities to connect with brands, so much so, it is often difficult to reach them effectively. If brands don’t reach the ideal customer, in their space at their preferred time, brand activity will be worthless. Smart content amplification for example, across multiple channels in the form of media partnerships, social amplification, SEO and/or SEM, improves content performance and ensures it builds awareness where and when it matters most. Be sure to underpin any activities with smart targeting and spend. The days of pay to play are here to stay.

For guidance on how to strengthen your brand position and build consumer confidence, please visit The 6AM Agency or email CEO, Gillian Fish for a half hour complimentary chat. Gill Fish is founder & CEO at The 6AM Agency, Australia’s leading integrated PR & Creative communications agency in wellbeing and good living working with Brandholders, Raw Material Suppliers and Service providers in VMS and Functional Foods & Beverages. 6AM is a preferred supplier for Complementary Medicines Australia.

[1] The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 – Resilient generations hold the key to creating a “better normal” June 2020, Deloitte Globalll

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