It's January. If you aren't clutching a green juice, sweating it out at the gym, or downloading Headspace, you are probably in the minority.
Yet, in recent years the concept of "well-being" has become more than a fleeting moment pursued in guilt after a month of over indulgence and festive dormancy. Today, well-being is really a staple demand of modern society. It's part of our daily DNA.
We've moved on from the work-orientated days of the 80s and 90s, where big business, money, and ostentatious displays of success were the holy grail. Now, we value inner calm, physical and mental health, and mindfulness above consumerism. We choose products that align with our values. We seek cultural riches over material gain, and we prioritize society over self. In many ways, wellness itself has evolved--transitioning from the very individual pursuit typified by luxury spas, exclusive fitness fads, and premium juice cleanses, to a more holistic model that sees individuals engage with social movements, environmental causes, political agendas--in pursuit of true balance. Well-being is now about a greater sense of purpose.
For entrepreneurs, this means abandoning the old perception of "the brand is king" and taking a more virtuous path. Brands must become dynamic tools for social movement that empower their consumers to really feel that active change. In order to truly align with this altruistic new sense of well-being, brands must follow five key principles:
1. If people need a sense of trust, change from within.
It's not enough to just promise change, you must actively engage and drive change through your own behavior. It's about how you treat your employees, your customers, your supply chain--how you operate as an organization. Consider how Lyft reacted to last year's Uber revelations. Lyft made a clear statement about how it operates and how it is more sensitive to the needs of its drivers and passengers alike. Or Southwest, who has famously spent so much time and energy developing how it operates to focus on the team and who they are. As a consumer, you believe this commitment--it's authentic, it's a real human story.
2. If people need to feel empowered, deliver tools more than fantasies.
Historically, brands used to present fantasies: aspirations and ideals with celebrity endorsements and often unattainable portrayals of life's essentials. Now brands must deliver tools to achieve bigger social ambitions. Brands have a responsibility to help people change their behaviors, whether that's using financial management like Mint or portion control on the part of big CPG companies and beyond.
3. If people need a sense of hope, inspire through leadership.
There is a new burden on brands to take the place of governance. When the Trump travel ban came into play, 153 companies responded with 84 percent of those responses coming direct from the CEOs. There is a new sense of responsibility where brands take a stand and have a point of view. Consumers need that to feel that they are buying into a tool for social change. You just need to look at the likes of Microsoft's Satya Nadella pulling back the reins on the aggressive technology race the industry has become embroiled in. Brands must set an example and help consumers tackle the issues that matter to them.
4. If people need a sense of community, collaborate ruthlessly.
We're coming from an age where corporate ecosystems were very inward but now brands need to look elsewhere, to other partners, to demonstrate we are all in this together. Society is crying out for renewed sense of community, so brands must collaborate ruthlessly without being precious. REI and Subaru came together for the Make a Dog's Black Friday activation, Google and Levi's partnered with Jacquard; these kinds of collaborations wouldn't have happened 10 years ago. This says a lot about these companies, as they looked across markets and made these projects happen. It's really about finding partnerships where they seemingly might not exist.
5. If people need real results, deliver real impact.
The brands and the products or services delivered must reflect change and a renewed sense of well-being if they are to truly respond to society's needs. Take Airbnb: it empowered landlords and tenants in a revolutionary way that actually did something for people. Consider Google's Project Loon, which brought wi-fi to people in remote, rural areas who might not otherwise have access to the digital world. Or consider Tesla in Puerto Rico, where it's creating real opportunities for energy. These are real demonstrations of real value-- and, undoubtedly, the key to tapping into the well-being of the future.