National Volunteer Fire Council: ServeStrong
Volunteer firefighters face dangers beyond their line of work; they are more at risk for cancer, heart attacks and PTSD than other professions. Their culture of putting others first doesn’t lend itself to adopting wellness and fitness initiatives within their departments, and unhealthy firefighters potentially put themselves, their crews, and the public at risk if they are not able to perform their jobs.
When the the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) hired Marketing for Change to build a branded health and safety campaign to address these issues, we began with research, conducting value laddering in-depth interviews to reveal not just the rational reasons influencing behavior (which is what most interview techniques reveal), but the emotional consequences and values that lead decision-making. These laddering interviews revealed that volunteer firefighters felt a commitment to their crews and communities, but also saw themselves as unique, in that few people are suited to do this challenging work. We used these findings to develop an umbrella wellness brand, Serve Strong, with a distinct brand personality appealing to firefighters’ self-standard of bringing their best selves to their service. We created a brand and style guide and a series of materials, including videos, animations, flyers, posters, social shareables, and print ads.
Although the campaign just launched, we are already seeing indicators of success. In three weeks, the first of our five animation videos generated 90,000 views on Facebook with no paid promotion. Moreover, many of the post comments included firefighters tagging colleagues and referencing a desire to engage in our target behaviors with their crews.