Health and Wellness Branding Digest, October 1, 2015

How Smart Marketing Transformed the Epi-Pen into a Billion-Dollar Product
(NPR, 30.09.15)

NPR’s Robert Siegel talks to Bloomberg Business reporter Cynthia Koons about how the cost of EpiPen, which fights severe allergic reactions, has increased in the past year alone.

Consumers Care About Health and Wellness. Is Your Marketing Keeping Pace?
(Loyalty360, 18.09.15)

Health and wellness are a key priority for consumers. In fact, 47 percent of consumers described themselves as “health conscious” in 2015. That’s up from 46 percent in 2010, according to Deloitte.

The 5 Best Practices for Content Marketing in Health & Pharma
(LinkedIn Pulse, 16.09.15)

The pharmaceutical industry is known for being traditional, conservative, and burdened by regulations and protocols. These regulations make pharma marketers wary of embracing new approaches, including the growing trend toward content marketing. Despite being the term on everyone’s lips, content marketing has been sidelined by the industry either because they don’t fully know how to implement it or because they give up on it after not seeing immediate results.

Getting to the Brain of the Matter: Exploring an Untapped Marketing Opportunity
(MediaPost, 08.07.15)

If the heart, the icon of health, were a brand, it would be Coke. Or Google. Or Wal-Mart. So what about the brain? Right now, it’s the off-brand cola getting flat in the vending machine. And that’s not just a modern issue—the brain has a long history of being dissed.

“Branding gives you an exceptionally effective way to broadcast who you are to your target market quickly and efficiently.” —Rick Haskins

Corporate Branding Digest, Nov. 3, 2014

How to Be the Best Boss (Infographic)
(Entrepreneur, 22.10.14)

Being a great boss means keeping your employees happy. The rest is gravy. Maintaining their happiness isn’t just important for morale—it’s important for your bottom line. Happy employees result in a more productive work environment, more satisfied customers and fewer workplace mistakes.

‘You Have to Walk the Talk’: Hiro Takeuchi
(Fast Company, 14.10.14)

The Harvard professor riffs on why your belief system is fundamental to your business.

Brand Cultures Are Built on Language
(Branding Strategy Insider, 25.09.14)

Unless you’ve been in a cave since August 1, you know that August marks the centennial anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Not an auspicious occasion for any of the countries involved.

Bring Out the Best in Your Employees, Based on Their Brain Type
(Entrepreneur, 25.08.14)

When managing others, one size does not fit all. Tailoring your leadership style to complement different brain types and respecting the individual differences of those you’re managing will bring out the best in them.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” —Steve Maraboli

How Using My Brain Has Helped It Heal

[Originally posted on the Huffington Post.]

As we approached Brain Tumor Awareness Month (it’s every May), I had coincidentally been posting about my own repeated misadventures in and recent return visit to brain tumor land. Some of what I wrote or tweeted about might have sounded a bit crotchety (the stress of having to negotiate with insurance companies and my confusion about mankind in general, for instance) or odd (admitting that I was coping with stress and lack of control by watching videos of brain surgeries on a questionable Indian hospital website), but it could have been worse.

Just as I found out, strangely, that dealing with surgery to remove a meningioma and the subsequent recovery is harder for me with a family than when I was on my own, I’ve also become grateful that I can use my brain during this period instead of simply resting. The National Brain Tumor Society notes that for people who do choose to return to work, “the challenges … can help you move ahead on the road to recovery.”

Work gives me a focus, a framework, a welcome distraction—especially the work that feels good. One of the main projects helping me heal after my second craniotomy (the first was nearly six years ago) is to bring some healing to the families of the Sandy Hook tragedy. More than that: I credit this work with inspiring my recovery.

My agency, Havas PR North America, has gotten involved with the Emilie Parker Art Connection, founded by the family of one of the young victims. Newtown struck close to home—my partner, Jim, and I also live in a supposedly safe Connecticut community—and it’s a cause I would have been glad to wholeheartedly support under any circumstances. But with everything going on in my head this winter and spring, I threw myself into it as deeply as possible.

The Parker family and others needed my skill set and connections to the media, and I needed them: The still-active aftermath of Sandy Hook galvanized me to push myself to recover faster to help them, and I gave them the redoubled efforts of a PR pro who was extra determined not to let a personal setback stand in her way. I even persuaded Jim to stop at Havas’s Wilton, Conn., office on the way home from Massachusetts General Hospital two days after surgery so that I could see the team building the new Emilie Parker Art Connection website.

To be sure, I could have thrown myself into any number of projects at work or at home: I’ve always been an overachiever—a type A-plus (and as Jim will attest, I am understating my intensity)—and have always had trouble sitting still. I don’t know what to do with a hammock. More likely, show me a hammock on a Thursday and by Tuesday I’ll be importing hammocks and selling them to raise money for a Latin American village.

So taking a break from work just didn’t make sense. What would I do? Who would I be if I did nothing, even for a day? For me, clock watching isn’t being. I had done that for 19 hours in the ICU, and even there I monitored my BlackBerrys (yes, plural) relentlessly, provided unsolicited commentary to the Roman Catholic Church on its choice of a new leader and obsessed on the state of news coverage. Staying home and resting would have meant, well, just more time to watch those gruesome Indian videos.

Even though my surgery was a little over two months ago and I’m still technically on medical leave (I’m feeling much better, but the headaches can be paralyzing), I’m working as hard as ever. And thank heavens for that. Although the tumor has zapped my organizational skills, like the last time my entrepreneurial skills today (in addition to my hair) are intact and my media relations and negotiating skills are superlative.

A lifelong catnapper increasingly afflicted with insomnia, I pass the early morning hours thinking about new-business proposals, which relaxes me. When it was time to get the 50 sutures removed from my scalp, a procedure that could have been uncomfortable (to use one of the medical profession’s favorite euphemisms), I was so distracted by client emails and budget proposals that I didn’t even realize when the doctor was done.

About a week after surgery, in a moment of subtle levity (and clarity), I told Jim, who had by then returned to his classroom obligations at the University of Arizona, about an excursion I was making. I might have let him hear “CVS” instead of “CBS.” So while he thought I was headed to the drugstore, I was instead at an inspiring CBS shoot with the amazing Parker family in Newtown as they told the story of their 100-day journey since the tragedy. (I bribed Jim’s son to chauffeur me.)

And as with the Parkers and their eye on the future—on creating a legacy for Emilie and working toward a goal of stopping more senseless tragedies—my post-surgery clarity has led me to want to advocate for a better story for others. I was vigilant about getting regular scans after my first meningioma was successfully removed, so when my symptoms returned and then worsened, I dismissed them because my radiologists had given me the all clear. Three times. But they were obviously wrong. So I am here to passionately encourage listening to what your brain is saying and feeling, and to get a second opinion if you want to be sure.

No matter the trauma you face—and we all will, because life is never trauma-free—never underestimate the power of hard work, or working hard at your passion, to heal.

[photo: Electronica]

Trendspotting: Sex on the Brain

Looking for a way to get closer to your significant other outside of the bedroom? Find another happy couple to hang with. Friendships can enhance your relationship as you and your partner watch how another couple manages ups and downs. It has also been revealed that the strongest couples have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, leading men in these pairings to get more sex and women more cuddling. Our propensity for love has also been attributed to our evolutionary drives. Researchers have recently identified a distinct system in the brain for romantic love—set apart from our systems for sex and attachment—leading them to conclude that love is not an emotion but rather a very powerful physical experience. Though scientists struggle to explain love’s relation to the brain, there’s no doubt about its connection to the heart. We now know that “broken heart syndrome” is real; a person’s heart attack risk is 21 times higher than normal the day after a loved one dies. And how does sex tie into all this new research? There’s this new theory: Orgasms promote optimal brain health, at the same level as food and exercise, and the dopamine release that accompanies sex is a fast track to an intense bond with a partner. To come to this conclusion, the author of the new book Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships had her brain scanned during an orgasm while researchers looked on. What’s the saying: It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it?

Trendspotting: For Love of the Game

The brains of teens who play video games for nine hours a week or more contain more gray matter at the core, says a new European study. The portion of the brain being examined has been connected with addiction in prior research, as it affects the interplay of emotions and behavior, but this was the first study to correlate video gaming with brain structure changes. Scientists said they couldn’t tell, though, whether the teens’ brains had changed from so much time spent gaming or if they’d formed their habits with that part of their brains already enlarged. Nevertheless, the study offers an interesting look at the science of addiction. Considering that approximately 91 percent of children play video games now, it’s something we all need to know more about. Of course, the number of players is going up across the board: A Chinese video game company reports a 40 percent increase in online gaming in the third quarter, while social gaming in the U.S. and U.K. has increased by 71 percent in the past 18 months. To that, we can only say: Game on.

Trendspotting: Your Brain on Marketing

The Brave Neuro World

Can the latest in brain imaging reveal much about why and how we buy?

“Neuromarketing” is a topic of interest to marketers the world over (if you don’t believe us, check out the multilingual Google News results). This burgeoning field continues to stir debate—a recent New York Times op-ed on the subject inspired an impassioned response from a group of 45 neuroscientists from seven countries, challenging the claim that consumers are feeling something like romantic love when they look at a product. The problem, say the researchers, is that the parts of the brain lighting up in the studies are active for many more emotions than love. But regardless of any brouhaha, neuromarketing is a tool that companies are turning to on an increasing basis. Media heavyweight Time Inc. even engaged a neuromarketing firm to conduct a study on brain activity of the “digital native.” The results—expected to be released in 2012—reportedly confirm what many have long suspected: The multitasking ways of this new gen has resulted in brains that are wired differently than their predecessors’. Sorry, but did we really need a massive research project to tell us that?

Gabby Giffords and the Resilience of the Brain

Like the rest of the world, I watched with horror as events unfolded in Tucson, resulting in the death of six people and critically injuring Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As talk swirled of right-wing conspiracies and out-of-control anger, people of all backgrounds prayed for Giffords and wondered how she could possibly survive after a bullet had entered her brain and come out the other side.

Seeing updates on her story in real time unites us even further in our collective hope for the politician, who is now breathing without the aid of a respirator and was upgraded from critical to serious condition after a successful tracheotomy. Her doctors—quickly becoming cranial rock stars—aren’t sure what impairments she’ll sustain, but her progress has certainly been encouraging.

It’s hard to believe it’s been only a little more than a week since the shooting. I can’t help but be amazed at her prognosis and her response to doctors and family. We all watch this together, but the story holds personal interest to me because of my brain surgery to remove a tumor almost four years ago. I’m still incredulous at the resilience of that incredible, complex nugget atop our heads. And I’m a believer again in miracles and medicine—as I walk down the street in Frankfurt this week, a recollection of my post-operative visit to Germany a blur of three winters past, or when I see the radiant, sharp ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff asking questions about the congresswoman’s possibilities.

Woodruff is, of course, another high-profile survivor of brain trauma. His recovery from a brain injury he suffered while covering the war in Iraq was grounded on a few interesting ideas. As Bob’s wife, Lee, my dear friend, explained to one interviewer: “Doctors told me that Bob, despite the severity of his injuries, had better chances to recover than other victims, because of the reserve of neurons and connections he had built thanks to an intellectually stimulating and diverse life, including living in China for several years and traveling to dozens of countries, having worked as a lawyer and as a journalist, and his overall curiosity and desire to learn. It seems that more and more research shows how people who are mentally active throughout their lives, either through their jobs, or doing puzzles like soduku are, of course up to a point, better prepared to deal with problems such as [traumatic brain injury].

“Still, recovery is a long process. Bob had six months of structured cognitive therapy focused on speech and languages areas, because that was the part of his brain that had been most damaged. The therapist identified the main tasks for him to work on in a challenging yet familiar way, usually asking Bob, for example, to read The New York Times, then try to remember what he had read, and write a short essay on his thoughts and impressions. Since then he has, in a sense, used his work in the documentary ‘To Iraq and Back’ and other projects at ABC as his informal, but very effective, way to keep improving. I am amazed to watch in real time how, even today, he gets better and better. To give you an example of his motivation to recover: He recently took on Chinese lessons to see if working on that also helped him.”

Giffords, who, according to Wikipedia, is “an avid reader,” most likely also has an intellectually curious bent that will surely help her in the months to come. How will brain surgery affect her career as a busy congresswoman? I can offer a glimpse into that after making many life changes in the wake of my craniotomy.

Instead of doing 20 things at once, my new normal is more like 10. Many among you struggle daily to keep up with information overload, respond to e-mails and IMs in real time, and manage your work and home life—and still have time to do a Pilates class every morning. Now imagine trying to do all that when your brain is defiantly telling you it’s not possible, and maybe you, like me, would start listening.

I see so many signs that point to all of us paying more attention to our brains in 2011—from a surge in interest about increasing NFL concussions and the possible hazards of cell-phone usage on the brain to soldiers returning home with traumatic brain injuries, and now to our making a furtive attempt to understand why such a tragic event occurred in Arizona. All very heady stuff.

Photo Credit: creativecommons/searchnetmedia