Every Company Is A Health Company

By Trevor Hubbard, CEO and Executive Creative Director, Butchershop US and Europe

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When you hear “healthcare”, what comes to mind? You likely immediately think of insurance companies, hospital groups, providers, payors, drugs, medication, prescriptions, hospice, big pharma. Most of these organizations built around curing sick people focus on disease and discomfort and in turn could best be described as “sickcare” rather than healthcare. 

In recent years, the concept of wellness has taken center stage in the conversation around health, and for good reason… Why? Wellness is about prevention. Wellness also signifies that priorities are shifting and people are looking for more connections to mind, body and happiness. Mental health has gone from a punchline to something that is real, timely, and mainstream. 

“All companies are tech companies today.” This headline gained traction in the business world less as a truism, and as more of a gauntlet thrown toward companies who were not adopting, creating, and using technology. Put simply, those that haven’t started the digital transformation process are being left behind to eventually wither and die. That same thinking can be applied to reimagining every company as a health and wellness company; some as a matter of fact, others as a matter of cultural principle. It’s more than a box to check in order to stay relevant with the millennial and Gen Z workforce. Tech companies will survive. But wellness companies? They’ll thrive.

On a macro level, our world is facing some of the largest issues of our time – climate change, exponential population growth, plummeting natural resources, shaky financial systems, and a global healthcare crisis. Ultimately, healthcare impacts our climate, population, resources, finances and all the underlying issues of our time. One could argue a million different relationships and hierarchies of these issues. But with health, we’re racing the clock from the moment we’re born, and we won’t be getting any of that time back. It is this reprioritization that puts health at the center of culture. It is why we believe every company needs to be a  health and wellness company. Nike is explicitly a health and wellness company. Accor Hotel Group is a health and wellness company. That startup you work for is a health and wellness company when you consider the value placed on mental health, quality of life, and all the other things that impact us as people. 

In 2008 when I first started Butchershop, real estate wasn’t an area of expertise for a branding agency on the West Coast. Then the economy rebounded and we started to see the rise of the glass box, gentrification of neighborhoods, and the changing skyline of San Francisco. Development after development popped up to meet the demand of housing needs and the amenitized living experiences were using luxury to describe their product six ways to Sunday. Butchershop had to become an overnight expert in placemaking brand building. In 2013, of 250 new business inquiries received that year, 20% were real estate related. It completely changed from a trend to a viable piece of our business. It was a culture shift to create hospitality experiences and squeeze out uniqueness when there wasn’t much. And this gave rise to things like Airbnb, smart home tech, digital real estate platforms and products, satellite services, VC money, new ventures, co-working spaces, and inspired entrepreneurs from all walks of life to look at our relationship to space and how to create more value. We are still in this cycle and Covid-19 has weeded out the fluff. In a similar fashion to Real Estate, we’ve seen the proliferation of Cloud, Cannabis, Fintech, Mental Health, and SaaS all being propped up with subscription services as the new way to create brand and business relationships. Real value. Real deals. Real revenue. 

So here we are in the Covid-19 work remote era. And what we care about most is Health. Health is the only thing that matters. And when threatened, health is one of the few things that can, and has stopped the world. The cultural lens is focusing on some important things that are only catalyzed when the world is watching together. Health and wellness is one of the biggest areas of focus across all sectors but the expanded definition must be something that is considered as fundamental and cultural.

Live life in a way that connects mind, body, finances, time, family, friends, work, health and happiness. A lot of innovation comes from creating new solutions to old ways of thinking. This is where we see the most inspiring ideas stem from, underscored by the macro fact that 85% of all successful founders saw a problem or an old way of doing things and decided to create a solution. This remains true and is magnified when it comes to a global human purpose that connects all of us – health. 

Butchershop has a unique perspective on this unification due to the privilege of our work and partnerships. I will attempt to make a connection between some of these concepts and illustrate how every company is a health and wellness company. Below is a list of our clients and some of the projects we’ve had the fortune of partnering up to work on in the last 24 months.

Nike – If you have a body, you are an athlete. Nike may sell $150 shoes and fund $100m sponsorships, but at the end of the day, Nike is inspiring generations of people to get up and “Just Do It”. In our experience, they are a health and wellness company in more ways than one. In the case of our engagement with them, we set out to reimagine the job search experience and focused on the Nike family employer brands. The site experience was robust, innovative, data-driven, consumerized but, most importantly, the content created was not inspired by thinking about “jobs.” It was conceptualized around quality of life; employees leveraging their experiences inspired by what Nike creates and offers. The stories were of employees that found missing parts of their lives at Nike. It showed people having access to a healthier life both mentally and physically. Why would Nike put such a premium on this content and message? Because it’s what the modern workforce requires. HR is no longer paper pushing. They are driving health and wellness for the business on the human level.

Tonal – Tonal and the team building this next-generation health and wellness company are showing us that technology, data, interaction, community and content are all part of the new world of health and wellness. The most powerful all-in-one home gym ever created could only exist at this moment in time. Advancements in AI, streaming content, touchscreens, UI, and UX have all coalesced to spur evolution in what it means to get a total body workout from home. Underneath it all is data, human connection, and community. The huge amount of user data that helps people make better decisions about their wellness, feel a part of a healthy community, and build better habits is easy to miss when it is packaged in such a slick product and platform. 

Grail Bio – A more literal example of a company working to eliminate one of the deadliest diseases of our time – cancer. “Early detection is everything” has been drilled into us as a concept, but it is really hard to do. This is where Grail, among others, is racing to put money, research, and new products and services into the market. There is such a strong need for private companies with diverse innovators to come together and create solutions for chronic and incurable diseases that you see more and more bets being taken with the hope that one of them turns into the world changing solution or cure that becomes a household name and lands on the cover of Time Magazine (it still exists at the publishing of this article). The folks over at Grail are working tirelessly to create the next big breakthrough in cancer prevention. It’s one of the things that gets us excited as brand builders – to help companies on the tip of the spear tell better stories and attract attention around a larger conversation they are creating.

Good Eggs – How is this quirky, yet curated, direct-to-consumer grocery delivery service a health and wellness company? What we eat and consume is probably one of the most important aspects to long term health. Eating healthy, organic, and sustainably while helping local brands and growers at the source reach new customers has incredible benefits. And underneath you have innovation on recipes, products, delivery, scalability, manufacturing, distribution; all sorts of wonderful problems to solve that all arrive in a cute box, ready for you and your family to live a healthier lifestyle by eating better food. The Bay Area and Los Angeles communities are a perfect customer base for woke foodies, but you can see the path being forged and others following with new ideas to help urban and underserved communities get access to healthier and better food choices in direct ways. 

ShapeTX – Using RNA for gene therapy and maintaining a vertically integrated company that handles payload, manufacturing, and delivery is no easy task, nor does it even seem possible. There are a lot of people on the latter side of the equation, but ShapeTX is betting that they can ALSO cure some of the world’s most incurable diseases. It’s one of those things that if 100 years ago I told you that one day people will live on Mars, you would have said it was absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, impossible. Well, we are going to Mars. When ShapeTX is able to accomplish some of the goals they have and reverse debilitating, incurable diseases from this planet, it will be the most significant accomplishment in history. When we look at the impact of this company and create a brand – the message is to bring people on a journey, but also inspire what is possible. 

Peaceful Lane – For years, Cannabis has led with the core message that it is helpful in medicinal applications. However, its psychedelic stigma kept it from the mainstream. Enter CBD, which has given way to an entirely new audience who never thought cannabis was something they would use. The curiosity has piqued and people are using Cannabis products in different ways as the entire industry moves along on a path of normalization, regulation, innovation, and consumerization. We live in a day and age where technology, data, science and innovation are proving just how deep the Cannabis industry goes to bring health and wellness to new audiences and customers. Peaceful Lane is an example of the permission innovators now have to create products in the Cannabis space, especially CBD, for new audiences who previously had some barriers. Peaceful Lane is targeting boomers, as it was founded by folks who had a life changing experience to alleviate the discomfort that comes with age. It gives a signal that there is a shift happening where entire industries are being built on Cannabis reaching new customers. Brands are being created, but most importantly, new products are being brought to market because health is at the center point of culture.

Mountain Hardwear – Mountain Hardwear has roots in climbing. From mountaineering, ski touring, peak bagging, bouldering to rock climbing, gym climbing and hiking. It is the connection to the outdoors that makes Mountain Hardwear have such a core and active customer base. Instead of trying to completely branch out into all outdoor activities, Mountain Hardwear made the strategic decision to own climbing. This decision wasn’t a gut feeling, it was a north star rooted in data. 1500 people a day try climbing for the first time. Climbing is now an Olympic sport and climbing gyms are popping up in cities as often as Starbucks. Being the brand that stands for the healthy lifestyle of climbing is a sweet spot. One that is ownable. And one for Mountain Hardwear that is authentic. It is driven by their internal culture, their approach to innovations and design, the marketing initiatives they support, and the communities they help cultivate. The genuine connection to the outdoors makes Mountain Hardwear a health and wellness lifestyle company, and this is what they are promoting more than a $300 jacket.

Neurotrack – When we started our engagement with the team at Neurotrack, there were four things that they knew they wanted to lean into – the science, the family, the technology, and the timing. Using the app they were building, that was years in the making with data and research, was a way to consider some UI and UX challenges that needed to be addressed, including the science of color and how it relates to memory in Alzheimers and Dementia patients. It also underscored simple things like type systems that could translate into different languages, specifically Japanese characters, considering the aging population of Japan, the sheer size of the population, and the cultural relationships of family and care for the elderly. For us at Butchershop going through this project we saw the opportunity to use a lot of the accessibility best practices, WGAC rules, and ADA compliance guidelines to build a brand with a real global mission to change this debilitating and incurable disease. A lot of these ideas would not be possible without the research, data and technology to deliver. This is why health tech is such an interesting space to play in now, because the world is ready and waiting.

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Over the past 24 months, Butchershop’s body of work reflects over 50% of our projects coming from the health and wellness space. We didn’t build this agency to focus on one vertical, but to be culturally relevant, to be an expert in the now, and to listen. Butchershop is listening. And when we listen through the filter of our company ethos which is to help people, and you combine that with our skill set to help leaders build brands people love, the net net is that we are, and always have been, a health and wellness company too.

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Summer 2020