Is your brand a painkiller, vitamin or candy?

Answering this simple question is key to prescribing the most effective antidote to meet your customers' needs and ensure the longevity of your business.

By Michelle Bower
Posted 12. 05. 2020
Vitamin main image

Do you need an injection of creative thinking or a completely new holistic remedy to help your business, brand, customers and colleagues thrive in a challenging new landscape? At D&P, we believe our total brand experience approach can help brands pivot and transform in creative and commercial ways. Whether it’s to reassure existing audiences, attract new values-driven people or to become fit for a new economy, we’re all in this together - and we want to help.

The theory goes that there are three kinds of businesses:

  • those who solve problems, disrupt sectors, or innovate on purpose: Painkillers
  • those who strive to make things better, holistically, acting on their values: Vitamins
  • those who make us smile with distraction and light relief: Candy

Then there are some businesses who can be all three at different times for their customers and colleagues.

A right pain in the...

We know from recent and personal experience what “we” do, when in pain, or at the fearful thought of future pain. We buy paracetamol, we stockpile toilet rolls, we add flour and yeast to our baskets, possibly for the first time in years.

In service design, we map out the customer journey to see what’s not working. When we uncover them, these moments are known as pain points. And where there's pain, there's opportunity. Opportunity for innovation, kindness and positive change lies where experientially, there is a gap between need and expectation, where customers are either underserved or being oversold to.

Where is the pain for your customers and colleagues? Pinpoint it and prioritise it.

Viatmins pill bottle

Painkiller, vitamin or candy?

At D&P we work across a broad range of sectors, brands and cultural regions. We define and design experiences based on the brand’s purpose and the customers’ implicit and explicit needs. This simple and memorable question helps us unlock the brief behind the brief, at the start of any project together.

There has never been a more vital time to cut through the noise, legacy behaviour or ‘business as usual’. By simply, humbly, knowing yourself (or your business’s core purpose), we can all strive to work towards being the answer to your future customers’ needs. [Note that when we say “customer” this is not always a financial transaction, it could be loyalty, goodwill, future consideration or subscribing to your way of thinking].

What’s the problem we’re trying to solve and what’s the most relevant or engaging prescription to remedy it?

Is your brand or service a painkiller, vitamin or candy?

Start with why

The “painkiller, vitamin, candy” analogy is believed to have been coined by Kevin Fong, a venture capitalist in the Bay area of San Francisco, after seeing endless business plans which praised innovation and features - the how and the what - but infrequently stated the problem it was solving - the why.

Simon Sinek’s global best-selling “start with why” and much-loved TED talk would agree.

At D&P we believe that engaging brands have a clear purpose and express it with their personality, people, process, product and place. And the most engaging brands in the world do these “6Ps” in a unique way that’s impossible to copy, because it’s built into their being, it is founded on their values, their business DNA and is evidenced in all it says and does consistently, yet creatively.

Do you know why your business, service or brand exists? Do your audience know?

Prescribing the right experience

It’s a deceptively simple question with an answer that can change depending on where the customer is and at what time.

Think of Instagram – is it a painkiller, a vitamin or a candy to the subscribed follower?

For the small business owner, it’s a marketing painkiller, an empowering and effective marketing tool. For the globally-connected family it’s a nice-to-have vitamin that brings them closer together and fills in the gaps between lengthy video calls. Finally for the meme-aware, dog-obsessed, working-from-home multitasker, it’s pure candy joy and entertainment.

Do you know your target audience well enough, to know who is underserved and in most need of your innovation and experience?

Viatmins pill box

Change the dose, based on your purpose

A brand or service can prescribe a mix of remedies, depending on what your measures of success are.

You could argue from the business’s perspective that Instagram was pure candy on launch, with addictive looks and behaviours (metric: users/followers) that turned vitamin-useful (metric: depth of engagement), later acquired by Facebook who sought the painkilling abilities for businesses to advertise and reach wider audiences (metric: return on investment, advertising revenue, click-through conversion).

Prevention is the best cure

At the risk of bending this metaphor to breaking point, there are three preventative ways we can help you to define and design engaging brand experiences for future business health.

  • If you’d like to know more about specific, targeted, brands we admire that are relevant for your business, or you’d like to learn about some real-time D&P examples of painkillers, vitamins and candy, get in touch for a free chat.
  • If you have a pressing challenge, limited time or resources, we can build a remote specialist team to turn insights into tactical creative and commercial ideas within a week. We’re doing this right now with our brand partners, let’s work together.
  • If you have the privilege of newfound time to reimagine your brand’s future role in society and would like a fresh perspective, out-of-sector brand examples or help writing your brief, ambitions and strategic territories, we can help tend to your brand’s future health and wellbeing for you, your colleagues and your customers.

Be well.

Illustrations by Gemma Dinham

Related Stories

arrow-down icon arrow-left icon arrow-right icon back icon button-box_2_blocks icon button-box_3_blocks-c icon button-box_3_blocks-d icon button-box_3_blocks-stacked icon button-box_3_blocks icon button-box_4_blocks icon button-box_5_blocks-alt icon button-box_5_blocks icon caret-down icon close icon d-p icon dot icon dots-column icon dots-nine-01 icon dots-trio icon facebook icon fast-forward icon forward icon hamburger-cross icon hamburger icon instagram icon letter icon link icon linkedin icon mail icon pattern-dots-white icon pattern-dots icon pattern-smile-white icon pattern-smile icon pattern-wave-white icon pattern-wave icon pattern-zig-white icon pattern-zig icon pause-button icon pink-waves icon play-button icon rewind icon search icon smile-column icon smile-trio icon squares icon twitter icon wave-column icon waves-citrine-line icon waves-citrine-square icon waves-rect icon waves icon youtube icon zig-line-pink icon zig-line icon zig-square icon