How brands can move from ‘languishing’ to ‘flourishing’

After a long and challenging period, Felicity's Amy Laski reminds brands how to talk about wellness in a positive space.

By Amy Laski

A few months ago, we were in a collective state of “languishing,” a state of stagnation and low mental well-being in the absence of a diagnosable mental health condition. Or, less technically, feeling “blah.”

The term “languishing,” however, did anything but that. And perhaps your brand’s wellbeing efforts have been languishing, too.

Before the pandemic, three-quarters of consumers believed it important for brands across all sectors to embrace wellbeing as part of their core mission. COVID-19 has amplified consumer expectations that every brand has a wellbeing angle. In fact, recent research by McKinsey showed that consumers report a substantial increase in prioritization of wellness, with spending projected to increase between 5 and 10% annually going forward.

Now, we’re looking ahead with cautious optimism to a time when we can be in a state of “flourishing” once again, to a state of fulfillment, purpose and happiness. Yet, after so many months, our flourishing muscles may have atrophied a bit. So we’ve created a short checklist to help you as brand stewards take your wellbeing marketing from languishing to flourishing.

The “boosting others” boomerang effect

No one can fault you for wanting to grow your bottom line, especially if sales have softened due to the pandemic. But so too has consumer appetite softened for the hard sell. So rather than starting with the question “how do I sell more?” instead ask “how can I help more?”, “what do my consumers need?” or “what problem can my brand solve?” Framing your marketing strategy around the answers to these questions will help your audience improve their wellbeing with your product or service. Better yet, partner with another organization to do good for your mutual audiences, together.

Connect through content

Deepen your connection with your audiences beyond the immediate transaction. That’s key to earning their trust, and to building loyal relationships over time. Speak to your consumers’ wellbeing needs while providing a little entertainment value, too.

Navigate the paradox of boundaries

The pandemic has created a paradox of boundaries. People have both more and fewer of them. On one hand, there may be many restrictions about how we can interact with others in person. On the other hand, boundaries have almost disappeared within our own homes and among its inhabitants, between work and the other facets of our lives, and between how we show up virtually. Make sure you respect those boundaries (and the lack thereof), by listening to and learning from your consumers so you can better tailor your communications. Not sure where the boundaries between providing value and intruding lie? I discussed how to get invited into consumers’ homes as a welcome houseguest in a past column.

Avoid confusing commentary in your communications

In order to connect with your consumers, you need to communicate with them in ways that hold meaning for them. In research with Ipsos, we discovered that 92% of Canadians say health and wellness communications leave them feeling skeptical, overwhelmed, confused, discouraged, anxious, or embarrassed. There’s even a term for those meaningless words that have a wellbeing halo effect but lack true meaning: Yogababble. So, choose simple, honest language that reflects what your brand does and how it will make your consumers feel.

Stay true to your values

The New York Times article about flourishing suggests finding purpose in everyday routines. The marketing version of this is to define your values as a marketer, as well as those of your brand, and align all you do through that lens. If you haven’t yet
defined your brand’s values, now is the time to get on it!

Amy Laski is founder and president of Felicity, a communications and content agency focused on the wellbeing space.