From the Health Blog – Teen Boys Drink 273 Calories of Sugary Drinks Per Day.

The CDC published new stats on how much non-diet soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks we actually consume. And for teen boys, 12-19, the results aren’t pretty – 273 daily calories from sugar-sweetened drinks (with some 70% of them consuming sugary drinks on any given day).

To put this in context, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 450 calories per week from sugar-sweetened drinks, the equivalent of about three 12-ounce cans.

Any ideas on how to reverse this trend…to bridge the divide between those businesses born in pleasure and those in health? To please both these consumers and the health community?

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High-energy brands deliver uniquely branded experiences that distinguish the organization and surprise and delight customers.

From Accenture’s online journal Outlook is this article From Patient To Customer: Improving The Patient Experience. It’s written by Anil Swami, Accenture’s global lead for Consumer Experience Management/Service Strategy domains.

His premise is that the customer service bar keeps being raised due to the improving service quality offered by other kinds of companies with whom patients interact. Companies that readily come to mind, for me, include online retailers Zappos and Amazon, physical retailers Apple and Best Buy, service providers Geek Squad and American Express. Given these experiences, our expectations are raised as we make cross-sector comparisons.

Within this context, hospitals will have to move beyond their traditional sphere of merely providing medical care. They must put in place the operations and processes to satisfy patients through differentiated experiences that engender greater loyalty. The key, according to Anil, is to “approach patients as customers and to design the end-to-end patient experience accordingly. This fosters longer-term relationships and enhances the provider’s overall brand value.”

The benefits of this approach are evident in a recent pilot by a prominent US academic medical center. Initiatives focused only on improving clinical procedures weren’t enough to keep patients satisfied, or to lure them away from other regional hospitals. But innovations designed to improve the patient experience showed positive results (abbreviated here):

• making information more consistent (through self-service portals)
• providing access options (to different demographic groups for receiving communications and accessing information)
• creating effective communications and education (through web-based multimedia education programs)
• offering personalized service (through different kinds of hospitality services)

Many hospitals (given the economic and political climate) have been focused on improving efficiency and reducing costs. But the author’s conclusion is that to be effective and successful in the future, hospitals need to deliver memorable service experiences in addition to offering world-class clinical care.

Makes sense. Are these healthcare brands really any different from the myriad providers across other industries who use customer service as a way to distinguish their organizations and create wow experiences for their customers.

Your thoughts?

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Whole Foods is opening its first wellness club in Dedham, Mass. It’s intended to “not only show and tell us what’s good for us but also how to prepare it.”

Here’s the facebook page link, and a statement of its mission.

Club member benefits (which come at a cost) include reference library, lifestyle evaluation, chef training on how to prepare healthy dishes, courses and lectures developed by medical doctors, inspirational and informative skill-building classes, supper clubs and special events, coaching and support. Products that meet the club’s “code of health” carry a Wellness Club seal of approval.

The grocer intends to open four other Wellness Clubs before the end of the year — in NY; Chicago; Oakland, CA; and Princeton, N.J. “If the prototypes do well, we would open more in 2012 as part of a growth initiative,” says John Mackey, chairman and co-CEO.

Here’s what I like about this extension:

Brand Fit. It’s a strong (genuine and perceptual) fit with the Whole Foods brand mission (making a difference in the lives of our Team Members and the customers we serve, and in the communities and environments in which we operate) and motto (Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet).

On Trend. It rides a seemingly boundless trend of proactively managing our health & wellness, particularly important among Whole Foods’ core target demo of Boomers; and more specifically, those who appreciate the role natural/organic foods can play in helping you live a healthier life.

More Meaning. It makes Whole Foods more integral to the daily lives of its customers, beyond a grocery retailer to a brand that now participates in helping them (through its actions) take more control of their lives, and get to where they want to go.

Differentiation. The Club adds yet another dimension of distinction to a brand that was already unique in its offering, positioning and equity versus other grocers.

Experience. It provides an even more “wow” in-store experience for members and (prospective member) shoppers, beyond the already sensory experience that is Whole Foods.

Long-term Value. It builds short-term revenue and (hopefully) sustainable long-term value of the Whole Foods brand.

What do you think about the impact of Wellness Club – on Whole Foods, its customers and competitors?

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E is shorthand for an important tenet of creating brand energy – Energizing Idea.

There are a lot of different ways to describe this idea – brand DNA, essence, mantra, promise, core identity, etc. But for us, the phrase Energizing Idea is simple, clear and alive.

It refers to a company’s source point for its energy. It’s higher aspirations in people’s lives beyond its commercial purpose. And as a central “energizing idea”, it should (must) serve to inspire, guide and align everyone and everything inside an organization.

Without it, there’s no connective tissue that binds people together around a higher meaning or common cause – which motivates and drives the people who drive your organization (and its greatness). It’s like a football team whose only rallying cry is to play hard.

High-energy brands (and businesses) are guided by (and deliver through their actions) their “energizing ideas.” Importantly, they’re not just baked into their products. These beliefs in what they stand for are delivered across the organization, and across all facets of what should be a uniquely branded customer experience.

Here are five examples of companies who get it – whose “energizing ideas”, and execution against these ideas, serve to ignite passions both inside and outside the organization:

Lululemon: where dreams come to fruition. I really like the supporting “public” manifesto. Which you get to take home with you, as it’s written on their carry out bags.

TOMS: improving the lives of children. Delivered through their One for One Movement.

Chobani: nothing but good. Reinforced through their Shepard’s Gift charitable foundation.

innocent: healthy habits. Reflected, among other ways, through innocentkids.

Virgin: the people’s champion . The common thread (of putting themselves in the customer’s shoes) that has led to more than 300 branded companies worldwide.

Common across these companies is that their brand is truly at the center of what they do, and how their people intellectually understand, emotionally connect and behaviorally deliver towards a common goal. And the starting point is their “Energizing Idea.”

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Brands, and customers, are energized through the power of story.

The right stories humanize the brand and create stronger connections for people by providing a feeling of authenticity and intimacy. And the right stories – those that others can find themselves a part of – are ones that people will want to tell, participate in and own.

In this case, the brand is J. Crew. And it’s the behind-the-scenes story of the design team’s trip to the renowned Ratti and Canepa mills in Lake Como, Italy, where they source many of their prints.

You can see the images, watch the film or read the story here.

In a world of distrust around things big, powerful and guarded, weaving stories into our products and brands will increasingly define success.

Do you agree? Please share your thoughts.

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People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This is Simon Sinek’s simple, smart idea presented through his TED talk: How great leaders inspire action. He calls his idea the ‘golden circle.” And it explains why some leaders and companies are able to inspire while others are not. It’s a concept that can’t really be boiled down to it’s essentials any further. But its value is big.

All companies know what they do. Most can identify how they do it. But far fewer (like Virgin, Harley Davidson, Six Senses, Innocent, Lululemon – my examples) can really identify why they do it – articulating why they really do what they do.

And “why” reflects how people make decisions (within their limbic brain, which controls our feelings) supported with the information (the “hows and whats”) people need to know to make them.

Simon’s ideas can just as effectively be applied to brand-building. And in some cases, might effectively replace the vision and mission statements which tend to sit and collect dust on corporate shelves.

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I was reading this post – Building Social Media Audiences – on Anna Farmery’s The Engaging Brand Blog.

But her points also apply to being able to build large audiences around a brand – by delivering a story that continues to surprise and unfold over time, and that audiences see themselves in and want to be a part of.

Anna’s points about social media begin as follows (giving you just enough for you to appreciate the brand-building parallels):

• They have a direction…
• They are not one off articles but reflect the growth…
• They are true to their brand character…
• They express views but leave those slight gaps for the audience to fill in…
• The social media activity is a story within a story…

A lot like brand-building, don’t you think? Involving your consumer in an evolving story over time and letting them (inviting them to) add their own reflections.

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Six Senses is a resort and spa management and development company, established in 1995 by Sonu Shivdasani. Its core purpose is to create innovative and enlightening experiences that rejuvenate guests’ love of SLOW LIFE.*

From the top down, everything about Six Senses drives from this purpose…

– enthusiastic leadership embracing and living the brand, and working to deliver on what it promises
– cult-like culture engaged and aligned around Six Senses core values
– organizational structure borrowing from nature
– uniquely branded experiences absorbed by all the human senses
– authentic delivery:
• building materials and finishes from sustainable and local sources
• quality and origin of the food
• innovative experiences that heighten guests knowledge

If you’re not familiar with Six Senses, take a few minutes to learn more about this high-energy brand.

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