How Optum, a Young Brand, Is Using Content to Build Brand Awareness

How Optum, a Young Brand, Is Using Content to Build Brand Awareness

by Heather EngMay 9, 2017

Even if you work in the healthcare space, you may not be familiar with Optum.

UnitedHealth Group created the brand in 2011 to serve as its health services branch, separate from its benefits offerings, the better-known UnitedHealthcare. As a new brand with little equity, Optum has focused on building its market presence in the few years since. 

Optum’s first ads ran just three years ago. And last month, Optum launched a new brand campaign, “How Well Gets Done,” which positions the company as an industry change-maker.

“We’re a health services and innovation company,” says Benjamin Meents, Vice President, Optum Corporate Marketing and Brand. “We’re very data-driven. We leverage data and analytics to help people live healthier lives and make the system work better for everyone.”

For Optum, the main brand objective is to build awareness among a niche but sizable target audience: health system buyers and influencers.

“We want to reach those working within the healthcare space – everyone from health plan and employee providers, to those in life sciences and the government,” says Meents. 

Content will play a crucial role. The Optum brand team is leaning in with a new content strategy and optimizing based on early learnings.

Here, Meents, who will be speaking at #ThinkContent 2017, shares what that process looks like.


Benjamin Meents, Vice President, Optum Corporate Marketing and Brand

Tell me about your content strategy and goals.

Our content strategy, messaging, and story are grounded in the idea of partnerships and relationships. Our approach isn’t to celebrate our own accomplishments, but rather the accomplishments we achieved through partnering with those working tirelessly in the space.

We’re taking bold action and focusing on how together, we are tackling the biggest challenges in healthcare: everything from chronic illnesses to system inefficiencies to fragmented care, to name some examples.

As we build those messages into our advertising, we see content as helping to give our audience a reason to believe that innovation and collaboration through broad partnerships are driving better outcomes to improve healthcare for everyone.

Where is your content currently living?

This month, we launched a landing page for our campaign: That is our platform for our owned channels. When our audience is exposed to our ads out in market, they will come to that landing page. There, they’ll find more information that pays off on the main message of our digital ads: How Well Gets Done. They will discover content such as case studies or videos that we’ll continue to build out over the coming months, year, and beyond.

Is the 10-minute “Day Zero” video, about the double liver transplant patient, indicative of the content you’ll be producing?

We’ve formed multiple content partnerships in the last year with various media partners. “Day Zero” is an example of a partnership with Bloomberg Media that highlights the patient journey through a liver transplant. It’s a short-form documentary film. It’s a different approach, and perhaps risky due to the length, but we believed that in order to honor the story, we had to let it be told in the most authentic way.

As a very young brand, we have a long way to go in building a rich repository of content focused on storytelling, but our content partnerships are an important start.

What are your key distribution channels?

We have a mix for the campaign and our content. We are heavy on broadcast TV right now because we’re focused on brand awareness. So a heavy broadcast component and a good, rich mix of digital and print. We’re also doing out-of-home and some airport, as well. 

Each channel has an important role. We built our strategy to tap into our unique audience and find them where they are – including when they’re on vacation, at leisure. We believe that getting these compelling, authentic stories in front of them in those moments that are unexpected is the right way to get the highest amount of touches and the right penetration we need to achieve our goal.

What was the process for getting buy-in for content marketing?

We approached content marketing in a way that’s rooted in strategic business priorities. Gaining internal alignment among the top levels in the business was key. Once we achieved that, we were able to build out a strategy where everyone is comfortable with our positioning and the stories we’re telling to reflect the essence and value of our brand.

How do you see the state of healthcare content marketing, and what’s your place in it?

We have a unique way to approach storytelling because on one hand, we’re at the intersection of technology, data, and analytics. And then on the other side, there’s the very human, emotional side of being in healthcare. When people intersect with the health system, they’re at critical junctures in their lives. And it’s a very important and sensitive interaction.

We have an exciting opportunity to go beyond boasting about the size of our company and the breadth of our capabilities. We can focus on the impact we can have, not only on the system, overall, and the very sensitive subject of healthcare and where it’s going, but about families and people we’re serving within communities. This opens up a whole opportunity for us to focus on why we exist as a brand, our higher purpose. So, corporate social responsibility becomes an area for us to lean into.

What are some early successes in your program and where are you looking to take it?

We’re pleased with some of our content results. Our approach for the last year has been to test and learn. So while we’re not churning out content, we’ve done some very meaningful tests and sample projects with key media partners that have been met with some great results. It’s about finding the best examples that highlight what we’re doing to build the brand from the ground up. 

The plan moving forward is building on those successes – taking them and blowing them out into multiple iterations and replicating those approaches. And at the same time, building out our platform and finding new ways to tell stories.

How are you measuring success?

As a young brand, our focus is on driving awareness and increasing knowledge of our brand.

We have been leveraging research tools and currently have a brand tracker in market to track success and results along the way. The approach is very methodical and steeped in both quantitative and qualitative research – everything from message testing, to how content is performing, to specific positioning and direction that is influencing the content we’re pursuing.

As a brand marketer, what most excited you about content marketing?
When I think about the opportunities storytelling presents, it’s that it gives us a chance to humanize the brand by finding and tapping into the most authentic voices that give the value of why we exist.

Content marketing, at its core, is about revealing the heart of the brand through the most natural of human interactions: storytelling. That means finding the right voices internally and externally, which allows us to take the focus off ourselves and cast it onto those we work with and serve. We can celebrate them and experience the fruits of the important work we do alongside our partners.

Hear more from Benjamin Meents at NewsCred’s #ThinkContent Summit on May 10th, in New York.


Heather Eng is NewsCred’s Executive Editor.