Designed an on-campus wellness brand, and built a new culture around mental health.
Neato worked with BU to develop ‘The Wellbeing Project’ – a new brand, media campaign, and set of experiences designed to inspire and enable BU students to prioritize their mental health and wellness.
This generation is experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression than previous generations, and social isolation is endemic. BU, like many schools across the country, was witnessing a shift within their student body. The University tasked Neato with creating a wellness brand to turn the tide. We knew that it would take more than a logo to institute a culture of wellness on and around campus.
We started by talking with BU students to better understand the challenges they were facing and how these challenges were impacting their physical and mental health. We also sought their perception of current wellness offerings, from BU and beyond.
Students felt that they were in a hyper-competitive environment. Keeping up meant pushing themselves beyond their limits. Unhealthy habits, like sleep deprivation, were romanticized. Most students perceived University wellness services to be a last resort – a destination for when things were no longer manageable.
For many young people, participating in institutional wellness offerings can imply there’s something wrong with them. BU has some distinct needs to serve related to wellness. They have to help students who are not well to overcome challenges, ultimately getting them to a better (normal/neutral) state. However, there was an additional opportunity for us to help the broader student population become their best selves.
“People wait until the situation is really bad, but then they might not want to talk about it or seek help--it insinuates to your peers something’s wrong.”
Sophia, Junior at BU
Neato gathered a cross-functional team of strategists, designers, and University stakeholders for a collaborative workshop. We helped the group develop empathy for the audience by sharing what we learned from our conversations with BU students. From there, we identified key themes and opportunity areas that we wanted to address.
Our intention was to create a comprehensive offering that would help students proactively care for themselves and their peers. It was important that our efforts didn’t create a momentary spike in student awareness or behavior change. This had to lead to sustainable change. Something that would take on a life of its own and gather even more momentum, long after we launched the brand.
We titled the endeavor ‘The Wellbeing Project’. A key pillar of the rollout was a set of experiences. Each experience was tailored to a specific point in the year and highlighted small behavior shifts that generated meaningful impact. We used the experiences as a vehicle to further educate students on proactive self-care. We created a set of soft goods to be distributed on and around campus.
Students can look forward to a number of pop-up events hosted by the Wellbeing Project throughout the year, including Hang Loose Hammocks, a destination for students to decompress on campus and Sex in the Dark, a glow-in-the-dark “sexpert” panel.
The Wellbeing Project is now a platform that ensures the culture of wellness stays vibrant within the BU Community. Students can propose experience ideas that address student wellness needs. Selected ideas are supported with input and funding from key stakeholders at BU. The brand has taken a life of its own with an iterative, student-centered feedback loop.
“Through conversations, campus data, and feedback, we understand that our students want an environment that prioritizes student wellbeing and recognizes that how they feel matters. It became apparent that there needed to be more done to engage our campus in supporting our students.”
Carrie Landa, Director of Behavioral Medicine
“In addition to supporting students’ personal wellbeing, The Wellbeing Project has the potential to bolster overall student success. We hope to shift our campus culture to recognize well being as an essential component of students’ success. When students feel better, they’re more likely to achieve their goals both inside and outside the classroom.”
Katharine Mooney, Director of Wellness and Prevention Services