What better way to take lessons of branding a wellness program than from one of the top-branded companies in the world, Procter and Gamble? The producers of timeless product lines like Old Spice and Tide recently introduced Vibrant Living, P&G's in-house line of benefits specially designed to help employees live healthier.

In 2006, P&G launched "Blueprint for Healthy Living" for its U.S. workers, its first effort at branding a wellness program. All of its programs - a Nurse 24 hotline, wellness assessment tools, personal advocacy programs, comprehensive condition management - fell under the one umbrella of a "Blueprint" logo and website, which, in 2011, the company re-imagined into the global wellness initiative, Vibrant Living.

Even the company's vending machines have taken on Vibrant Living's orange color palette, with a block highlighting the machine's healthy options. "We have [a population of] high-tech, engaged people who like to work a whole lot. Because of the other things we do with wellness, we understand that the way people eat throughout the day makes a difference," said Sandra Morris, senior manager of employee health care benefits design at P&G, this spring at the Institute for Productivity and Health Management conference in Orlando, Fla.

With 127,000 employees in 80 countries and 37,000 in the United States, Morris said P&G has a fairly healthy population, but spends $400 million annually on health care. Because of its fairly low turnover (2% a year), each dollar invested in a worker's health is an investment in his or her career at the company. For instance, in western Georgia at a paper plant, a paper maker takes 10 years to reach a fully trained level. If they lose that employee to diabetes, "you can't get that back by hiring someone off the street."

Just like giving consumers an immediate message with P&G's various brands, Morris said its in-house wellness brand should give employees an immediate recognition, "so, when they see it there is an immediate message: 'I know this is about the health and wellness of my family, and I shouldn't throw it in the trash.' Most people will open and keep those things, as opposed to throwing them away."

As a result of the intensive branding campaign - and, of course, the actual work of the wellness programs - P&G has seen declining health risks at 13%, declining hospitalizations at -10.5%, declining ER visits at 14.5% and increased treatment adherence.

The Vibrant Living logo, with yellow and orange colors in the shape of a sunburst, was carefully crafted, and each worksite location can become Vibrant Living certified through a series of steps to "drive a powerful and consistent message" of health. P&G has not yet transitioned to a consumer-driven health plan; rather, it still maintains a PPO plan with a flat 90/10 design. Each quarter features a wellness challenge where participants' names are put in a drawing to get their next year's premium waived.

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