Rebranding cancer: how brands heal and hurt

Rebranding cancer: how brands heal and hurt

Along with consumer brands, the ‘brand’ of condition or event influences us. When the condition is cancer, there is a perception gap to address.

We have already established that Influence combined with Creativity delivers real financial benefit to companies. At WPP, we call this Creative Premium.

Creative Premium can be a real gamechanger… and there is so much more brands can do with the power they yield.

Today, the health ecosystem is more than a collection of product and service brands. Some health conditions have become so pervasive in culture that they, too, have become brands that set expectations of an experience and even a health outcome. We call these life-impact brands. We set out to evaluate the power of life-impact brands starting with perhaps the most pervasive health brand in culture today. Cancer.

What we were able to confirm is that, unsurprisingly, cancer is the brand that causes the most negative reaction. Cancer is a word associated with despair and even death. It’s not something we talk about lightly – and almost never in the context of brand and reputation building.

But there’s a perception gap. While in years gone by a cancer diagnosis may have been a cause for despair, increasingly early diagnoses and treatments mean cure or living with a chronic condition. Yet emotions are still heightened at the mention of the ‘C’ word – there’s traumatic stigma attached to it.

The marketing and communications industry is expert at understanding the impact of branding. A positive impact usually means making a purchase or signing up to a service. But brand-building is also about the long game and causing beneficial associations that reap rewards down the track.

That is why we wanted to look at cancer as a brand and understand its impact, and then consider the marketing and communications industry’s role in rebranding it to encompass new forms of hope that are relevant to today’s savvy health consumer. This is what this report sets out to do.

We also wanted to understand how cancer ranks as a brand alongside other conditions and life events. In effect, we are measuring cancer as the enemy – not the brands that take on that enemy.

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