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 palate, 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, on Tuesday 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 and 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 years premium waived. 

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