The importance of brand in leading young people to services

Presentation First Author: 
Sarah Shiell

The question was clear-how do you attract young people into a new youth-focussed mental health service in a way that is contemporary and relevant to their experiences when traditionally the audience is difficult to engage? The at times overwhelming stigma young people and the community around them attach to mental health issues has long been a barrier to help seeking. While the headspace model changed the way mental health services were delivered through a focus on early intervention and improving access to help, convincing young people to take the next step presented a significant challenge. The approach taken by headspace was to develop a brand and image that young people felt comfortable with and could relate to - ie, a mental health service was turned into a marketable brand that reflected the unique values of the group it targeted, whilst maintaining an evidence-informed clinical message. The headspace brand is deliberately bold. From the brash green it uses for its logo and primary branding, though to the use of vibrant colours in its marketing materials, images of confident young people, and a focus on what they are feeling and facing rather than using impersonal clinical terms, the headspace brand reflects the experience of a young person. Instead of presenting stark black and white images of despondent faces and clinical terms, often used by other mental health service providers, which young people are reluctant to identify with, the headspace brand celebrates all that is remarkable about young people and adopts a positive and high energy approach to dealing with issues that have the potential to derail young lives. The headspace brand is also visible in the places young people are, such as music festivals, sporting events, schools and universities, pubs and clubs, and social media. Social media is a pivotal tool used by headspace, and whilst the clinical risk issues associated with the medium are significant, the benefit of being engaged and present in the space has been enormous. The current advertising campaign underlines the headspace approach to encouraging young people to seek help. Using a style of artwork that mirrors what is currently seen in street art and music posters, the campaign focuses on issues that face young people and uses language they can relate to (ie, Sarah vs the Dreaded Butterflies and Daniel vs the Black Cloud). It reminds young people that headspace has got their back. The campaign, which had substantial input from young people during its development, has had overwhelmingly positive feedback from its target audience. This presentation describes the approaches headspace has taken to marketing its brand, revealing what has been most effective at engaging young people in its services. The growing evidence, obtained through both qualitative and quantitative indicators, clearly shows the approach taken by headspace to its brand positioning has helped drive young people to services and significantly contributed to destigmatising help seeking

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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