We like to see wellness marketers bring their brand beliefs and promises to life. To this end, vitamin and supplement brand Sundown Naturals just wrapped up its three month cross-country 100% Goodness Tour in early July. As reported on drugstorenews.com, The Tour, which celebrated the simple goodness in life, began in Indianapolis and ended in Dallas with 23 stops in between.

Highlights of the tour included:

  • At each location, attendees sampled Sundown Naturals Gummies, were invited to #sharethegoodness and contribute to a cross-country photo mural displaying what makes them feel good.
  • A team of “Goodness Gurus” also shared ways to practice wellness through nutrition, fitness, mindfulness or cultivating joy in daily life.
  • Select locations also had fitness, lifestyle and wellness expert Jennipher Walters, co-founder of Fit Bottomed Girls Community, host 10-minute, no-equipment workout sessions and share fitness and health tips with attendees.

States John Frame, VP Marketing for Sundown Naturals, “Sundown Naturals believes life is about balance, and our vitamins and supplements are the perfect complement to help balance healthy, active lifestyles. The 100% Goodness Tour has given us the opportunity to bring our belief and brand promise of supplements free of gluten, dairy and artificial flavors to people all across the country.”

At Trajectory, we believe that there are eight characteristics and behaviors that lie at the heart of brand momentum. Three of these include Know-How (demonstrating your expertise), Dynamism (staying ahead of the game) and Usefulness (getting people involved in your brand in tangible ways). So we’re big fans of Sundown’s 100% Goodness Tour.

Sundown Natural’s effort is actually very similar to Trajectory’s 2015 year-long Road To Health Tour for Summit Medical Group.



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Chipotle’s new animated film “A Love Story” seeks to win over (win back) audiences with a food-based love story. But it’s also a film that touches on the themes of wellness, clean/organic and conscious consumerism.

Launched last week, it follows a couple of kids who operate rival fresh, hand squeezed drink-stands before their rivalry sees them create massive fast-food empires reliant on processed and unnatural products.

The film’s health message is consistent with all Chipotle advertising and supports its positioning of ‘food with integrity’. But the film is also designed (we suspect) to re-engage with customers following its major health scares last year after dozens of customers feel ill from eating at its US restaurants.

The film also touches upon three relevant cultural trends that we see in our everyday Trajectory work across healthcare and wellness:

Wellness. With consumers becoming more active in pursuit of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and choosing products with embedded health benefits. We’re seeing wellness being integrated seamlessly into our lives, e.g. moving away from illness to vitality; treatment to preventative, reactive to proactive.

Clean, Organic. Natural trends emerging first in food and drink have inspired a shift to the external. The closer a product comes to the body, it seems, the more consumers now want it to be “natural.” In the US, 57% of consumers purchase skin care products because they don’t contain unnecessary ingredients or chemicals (Mintel, B&PC).

Conscious Consumerism.  Mainstream products once taken for granted now provoke skepticism. Brands need to be prepared to defend ingredients and processes throughout their lifecycle, as consumers ask tough questions, to draw out the truth.

By the way, if you haven’t watched the film, you should. Good heartfelt story and great sound track.

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Regardless of whether you’re rebranding or repositioning your healthcare organization, there’s only one way to ensure that your corporate brand has the power to unite the stakeholders inside and around your organization. It requires your brand to be center stage and in alignment from the inside out. It requires a brand culture.

At Trajectory, we define brand culture as squeezing every bit of meaning, purpose and direction out of your brand to drive the everyday actions of the people who drive your business performance. This starts with aligning your healthcare organization brand with corporate vision, mission, values, patient experience, employee evaluations, etc. as your first point of healthcare marketing activation. Bypass this first step, and there’s no lasting means to guide everyone forward together.

With any meaningful brand change, we talk about needing to engage and align people on a shared journey. But we don’t do the required heavy lifting. I discussed this recently with Jeanne Adam, who is COO, Marketing and Communications from Orlando Health, which we rebranded a number of years back.

According to Jeanne, we all talk about how important starting from the inside out is. But we don’t tend to do the parallel work necessary to get internal audiences on the same page. From a higher level brand change/brand development perspective, I think the one thing we tend to miss on is not pushing and pulling on the organization’s ideas and practices that first need to align with a new brand. Which only then can get everyone pulling in the same direction and for the same reasons. 

In our view, the first activation point for creating meaningful brand change begins under the corporate hood, so to speak. Aligning brand with vision and purpose. Then doing the hard work necessary to align brand with the things that inform everyday actions, like standards of behavior, patient experience, employee evaluation criteria and employee recognition.

Branding today must be a company-wide initiative that extends beyond the provence of the marketing department and grows out of the internal workings of the organization. It requires building a brand culture that is rooted in the heart of the organization and radiates outward as a common set of actions based on shared meaning, purpose and direction.  This brand culture will not only unite employees in a common vision and purpose, it will also attract consumers and engage them in a deep and meaningful relationship that transcends the traditional marketing goals of building preference and loyalty.

In today’s business climate, Peter Drucker’s words have never been truer – culture eats strategy for breakfast.





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If you asked me about ‘The Wonder Years’ or ‘Happy Days’ I would only vaguely remember. If you asked me about Spice World or Disney’s Pocahontas, I could most likely (ok, most definitely) recite the lyrics to every song. I check all five of my email addresses several times daily, am most likely to respond via text message—but still remember the floppy disk.

All of these things, along with my birth year 1991, pinpoint me as being what feels like the buzzword of the century: a millennial.

The issue is, while big brands continue to become increasingly excited and exploratory of the ‘millennial’ generation, us millennials are becoming more and more fatigued by it. If there were ‘unsubscribe’ buttons attached to generations as there are attached to spam mail—my guess is many of us millennials would unsubscribe. We don’t want to be grouped as ‘millennials’ because millennials crave individuality and we don’t want to carry the burdensome label of ‘entitled generation’ with all of its negative assumptions. While we want to be heard, we don’t want to be labeled.

When big brands make efforts to seek out and appeal to millennials, we do notice. If I could hand over a few nuggets of millennial insight to big brands out there…I would tell them that the reason why shifting marketing efforts toward a ‘millennial’ appeal is not always useful is likely a combination of a few different factors:

1 // Inauthenticity is tabooed more than authenticity is applauded.

One recurrent finding in millennial values is that authenticity is key—and we don’t like being ‘sold’ to. The conundrum is that even more than we value authenticity, we detest inauthenticity. However, squeezing a brand into the mold of an ‘authentic’ millennial mindset feels rather…inauthentic. Millennials don’t want to feel like brands are using insincere methods of targeting on the basis that we value sincerity—especially if the result is far out of line with the brand. We don’t want brands to necessarily ‘be’ us; we want brands to be themselves.

2 // When we see through the marketing, we want to see the real brand behind it.

Not only do millennials notice when they’re being targeted, they can also see right through it. This is likely why Pizza Hut’s newest rebrand failed, because millennials have x-ray vision of sorts seeing through the ‘gourmet crusts’ that artisanal Italian cuisine is not in line with the ‘true’ Pizza Hut. Similar logic could also explain why the same ‘artisanal’ spin works so well for other brands, like Starbucks—where ‘artisanal’ products feel more in line with the overall branding of an elevated beverage experience. Even though we can see the ‘freshly brewed’ pumpkin latte pouring out of plastic cartons and the ‘artisan baked’ pastries being ripped out of the packaging, we let it slide…because the kind of authenticity millennials value is not in the attempt to provide ‘authentic’ products, but is in the braveness and passion of being whatever brand you really are.

3 // Passion speaks louder than product.

In the eyes of millennials, authenticity falls flat without passion. Millennials want to see reflected in brands the passion and potential they see in themselves. Whether or not the (negative) assumptions about the millennial persona are true, I think the most prominent common denominator of generation Y is ambition—even if not drive. We want to be the next ‘big idea’ or the first even bigger idea—and we would like to see the same genuine kinetic and potential energies reflected in our brands.

With all that being said, if your aim is to market transfatty fast food to millennials—then you should shamelessly and passionately sell the best transfatty fast food there is, because for millennials a genuine passion behind a product is more attractive than the product itself. So, if handing out employment (the real key to a millennial’s heart!) with every purchase is out of the millennial marketing budget, I would say figuring out your brand’s purpose and passion and then simply and genuinely just ‘being’ the hell out of it is the next best thing…because passion cannot be ‘authenticated’—it already is.


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Every once in a great while, we post about our client work.

In this case, it’s Trajectory’s brand launch work for new mass market clinical skincare brand Aquation, inclusive of marketing plan development, creative development through to digital and social media oversight and execution. Here’s the link to the Aquation site we developed.

As promoted on wwd.com, parent company ABI’s Aquation is rolling out in January following testing in select markets.

The line initially consists of four sku’s: Gentle Moisturizing Cleanser, Daily Moisturizing Lotion, Moisturizing Cream and Hydrating Cleansing Bar. Hydration is a key brand benefit and the clinically supported range features Hydro Balance, a dual-phase moisture delivery system enriched with ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

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Congrats to ABI. It’s been an exhilarating ride.

You can view other recent Trajectory examples of personal care launch and relaunch work here:

Neostrata Professional Skin Care
PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser
VitaNova Vitamins & Supplements









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If you’re a healthcare marketing executive who happened to miss the Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit (HMPS 2016) held 5/23-5/25 in Chicago, here’s a quick recap of some important takeaways.

I had the pleasure of joining 750 marketing executives, 64 exhibitors and a “Who’s Who” of executive leadership from iconic healthcare brands including Boston Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital as well as some retail and technology giants expanding rapidly into the space like Walgreens and IBM Watson Health.

Key Takeaways

As a brand strategy + activation agency focused on healthcare, wellness & personal care, we wanted to share some statistics gleaned across multiple conference tracks to highlight what’s driving the future of healthcare marketing. If you want to learn more about any of them, reach out and I’ll try to fill in the blanks.

Retail Health

  • 25% of consumers used a retail clinic in past year.
  • 67% were very satisfied with their experience at a retail clinic.
  • 32% would use a retail clinic only if affiliated with a local health system or provider.


  • In 2015 only 14% of healthcare marketing budgets were allocated to digital.
  • Nearly 90% of patients want to use digital channels to manage their healthcare.
  • 72% of patients want the ability to book and manage appointments online but only 10% of the current in-house online solutions meet this demand.


  • 65% of ER visitors use search before going to the ER.
  • 62% of consumers search using smartphones to get health information.
  • Over 70% of hospital site traffic comes from search.

Social Media

  • 40% of consumers say that info found through social media affects their health.
  • 57% of consumers said a hospital’s social media presence strongly influences where to go for service.
  • 81% said a strong social media presence is an indication that a hospital offers cutting-edge technology.


  • 60% of consumers are willing to have a video visit with a physician through a mobile device.
  • 58% of clinicians would rather provide a portion of care virtually.


HMPS 2017

If you’re a health system marketing executive and haven’t attended a Forum for Healthcare Strategists Summit, I highly recommend you check them out. I actually recommended the summit to a time-starved CMO of a major health system who attended this year and I received a sincere “thank you” for it. Hope to see you next year for HMPS 17 in Austin, TX.

And once again, if I can help clarify and expand on any of the above, please feel free to reach out.

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How does a healthcare brand, in this case a health system, ensure its future brand relevancy?

By standing out in ways that really matter to consumers (differentiation), by delivering a “branded” and delighting customer experience (experience offering), by tapping into emotions and creating an instinctive attraction that goes beyond rational needs (emotional pull) and by constantly moving and evolving to surprise and delight its audiences (dynamism). In other words, doing what Toledo Ohio-based ProMedica healthcare network is going.

When you do a search for the organization, you’ll find its mission front and center:

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But I didn’t start out by searching the organization. I first read this article: ProMedica opens grocery store offering healthful choices in food desert. Then I tracked back to search the organization. And I smiled!

Along with a new Institute for Population health, ProMedica recently opened a full-service grocery store in a renovated building that had been vacant for more than two decades.  It provides healthful and affordable food choices in a formerly designated food desert (defined as a census tract with high poverty rate and limited access to healthy, affordable food outlets).

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According to Randy Oostra, ProMedica president and chief executive officer, the institute’s development was consistent with recent strategies of the health system that started with a focus on combating obesity and hunger.

A teaching kitchen is also slated to open later this year, to teach residents how to use healthful, fresh food in cooking. Along with the Institute, the destination is anticipated to become a community hub “where healthy living takes root.”

Good example of propelling brand, customers and business forward! And here’s another example from Trajectory client Orlando Health.

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ALL healthcare brands sell something. Like healthcare for their communities.

GOOD healthcare brands stand for something. Like Hospital For Special Surgery’s commitment to helping people get back in the game.  For context, outside of healthcare I think about BMW, American Express, Walgreens and RedBull.

GREAT (X-factor) healthcare brands take a stand for (or against) something. Like MD Anderson’s fight to end cancer.  Outside of healthcare, I think about Harley-Davidson, Virgin, Whole Foods and Tesla. 

Where does your health system or hospital sit on the “X” factor continuum? What is it’s special talent or quality for which it stands out and apart?

Honing in on your “X” factor helps you to create the momentum that accelerates brand-centered business growth (the most powerful platform from which to drive growth).

Here’s a quick test. Try to finish this thought in a way that meaningfully distinguishes you among your prospective audiences: there are plenty of health systems and hospitals around, but ours has that special “X” factor. It’s our ability to…

If the words immediately roll of your tongue (again, in a way that genuinely and meaningfully distinguishes your organization from others), you’re in an enviable position. And hopefully, you’re exploiting this through your branding and in your marketing.

But what if you’re struggling to find your “X” factor? As a starting point, here are three things you can do:

1. Re-Think Your Brand Concept. Challenge your team to think more expansively about what your brand stands for (or against), beyond its service category, to create a much broader and emotionally-driven platform to grow.

2. Look Beyond Your Category. The richest insights, inspirations and ideas tend to come from outside your immediate category. Then apply these to begin to rethink, refocus and re-energize your brand.

3. Enlist Your Customers. Learn from your own customers about concepts that they love from parallel outside sectors. For instance, within your market (as a starting point), which banks and retailers are most successful; and why?

Need help getting started? Reach out to Rick Zaniboni, Vice President. You can reach him at rz@trajectory4brands.com, or at 978-994-8009.

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Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.25.31 PMHere’s a quick read for beauty marketers from cosmeticdesign.com – What’s trending in the natural anti-aging category right now?

The article cites a few recent natural-based ingredient launches targeting the anti-aging beauty market. Upshot is that increasingly sophisticated solutions are being designed to provide effective “natural source” formulations for skin care, supplements and hair care products.

While natural is certainly an important purchase driver, we’d suggest that the formula for keeping anti-aging beauty brands trending and generating sustained momentum is the combination of…

  • natural (free-from claims)
  • plus brand story (to emotionally connect to customers)
  • plus new product technology (that can deliver real improvements)
  • plus new digital technology (to customize and personalize for customers)
  • plus social presence (to engage with customers)
  • minus the complexity (of too many choices)
  • supported by a brand platform that is broad enough to support ongoing “brand” innovation

Into The Future

As reported by Euromonitor, overall skin care segment growth through 2019 is expected to slow versus prior years. Partially responsible for this modest growth is likely the success of complementary beauty devices and the uptick in beauty services (e.g. spas) given the robust economy.

Granted, natural beauty products are having their moment, as it’s the fastest growing segment of the global personal care industry. However, the modest growth projection for the segment overall points to the need to innovate and create the unexpected across all fronts in order to keep the positive momentum going. This involves the ability to sense changes in the marketplace and with customers, and a line of sight that stretches beyond your existing target market, value proposition and even business model.

We’re actually going down this path now with a Trajectory personal care client. We stepped back to take a wide-eyed view of the health and wellness marketplace, are going to be targeting an entirely new audience, with a new product range through a new channel of distribution. Exciting work!!





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As reported in Fast Company, Cleveland Clinic is taking an important step to take telehealth mainstream. But it’s also taking an important step to ensure its healthcare brand relevance – by altering the way people look at the healthcare purchase decision and use experience and by changing how they buy.

In an industry-first collaboration, the hospital is partnering with CVS’s MinuteClinics and telemedicine technology solutions company American Well – to make on-demand online and mobile Cleveland Clinic provider visits available for MinuteClinic customers in Ohio.

According to Dr. Peter Rasmussen, medical director of distance health, Cleveland Clinic – our long-term view of telehealth is that it’s not only a new, welcome service that we can offer our existing patients, but it’s a way for Cleveland Clinic to extend our reach and serve more people who need help. We believe that it is important to remove barriers to great care like time, travel and distance, and we’re making that possible through this partnership in Ohio.

The Future of Telehealth Medicine

Interestingly, in an American Well 2015 Telehealth Survey, 70% of consumers said they prefer an online video visit to an in-office setting to obtain a common prescription. And 64% of Americans overall are willing to have doctor visits via video telehealth. The survey further indicated that telehealth will change the way healthcare is delivered in three key areas: after hours care, primary care and choosing a doctor.

Three Takeaways For Building Brand Relevance

Considering the importance of brand relevance to attract and maintain a customer base, three important takeaways include:

1. Making things simple. One of the characteristics of great brands is that they make things simple. They cut through the clutter by delivering what consumers want, when they want it, without hassle. Like this effort from Cleveland Clinic.

2. Deeds beyond words. Actions speak louder than words. Building brand relevance – and customer value – is more about creating meaningful, authentic and breakthrough experiences beyond merely creating images and communications.

3. Never standing still. The rewards go to brands that stay ahead of the game. They evolve to keep consumers interested and engaged, take their cues from their consumers and are always on the look out for ways to surprise and delight them.

Cleveland Clinic and CVS (along with Mayo Clinic, 23 and me, ZocDoc and Apple Health, among many others) signal what the future of healthcare will look like. Which feels more like automotive, fashion, food, retailing and technology than it does traditional healthcare. Characterized by the ability to look ahead and stay ahead of customers. Committing to bringing new products and services to market. Taking educated risks to stretch the strategic envelope by going outside the comfort zone of a target market, value proposition and business model.

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