macdougall musings

Demystifying “Creative”: Why Branding Matters

You’ve Nailed the Science, But How Do You Create a Brand?

If advancing a product candidate through the clinic seems like a tough feat, making decisions on branding arrives as a close second for some in the life sciences sector. Yet branding and positioning are keys to long-term success and should be a critical part of a company’s strategy. So put down your pipette, channel your creative juices, and read on to expand your understanding of branding in the life sciences.

At MacDougall, we understand the importance of the creative process in building lasting healthcare and life science corporate identities. For nearly two decades, MacDougall has been assisting life science companies at all stages with brand development and, as a result, has a curated list of do’s, don’ts and advice.

Brand, Logo or Both?

First Impression. Recognition. Trust. Credibility.

These are a few words that are associated with a thriving, strong brand.

Branding is the process of developing the identity of a company – a blended reflection of your science, story and the mission on which your team is embarking. It includes tangibles and intangibles: your name, logo, website, social media presence, team, culture and spirit, to name a few. It’s how you are differentiated in the marketplace. For many early-stage biotech companies, thorough investment in branding is often placed on the back burner as more “pressing” business activities like clinical development justifiably take priority. Continue reading below to realize why brand development is a high priority endeavor.

A logo is an easily recognizable visual design element that typically includes a name, symbol and intentionally chosen colors.

Taken together, a logo and a brand encompasses a company’s meaning, positioning, voice, emotion, and communicates the specific presence of the company to the world.

Takeaway: Branding is an iterative, continual process. Establishing a smartly cultivated brand is the foundation to support future growth and evolution. Logos are an important tool to help identify a company, but they derive substantive meaning from the quality of what they represent.

Mood, Message, & Meaning

Nike – Just Do It. The Nike brand and the famous swoosh logo elicits a fierce, fast, competitive and strong mood. Named after the Greek goddess for victory, Nike has successfully evolved into one of the world’s most well known brands, staying true to its mission of bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Our 3M framework outlined below is a helpful guide in building a powerful brand, like Nike.

Mood – How does it look and what vibe does it convey?

Message – What does it need to say and what is the story? Who are the audiences and endpoints you are trying to reach?

Meaning – What new understanding or story do people need to take with them?

Landing answers to the above principles is an investment. Your team can discuss these principles at an offsite meeting dedicated to strategy and messaging, or you can hire an external branding expert to help think through them. Either way, the 3Ms are an important part of building a strong brand and increasing awareness in the industry.

Takeaway: Use our 3M framework to help inform any creative decision you make. Following these principles will build a more aligned and lasting brand.

Consistency is Key

The central pillar of a strong brand and integrated communications strategy is consistency. Consistent messaging and branding elements breed higher brand recognition throughout a company’s lifecycle, from launch to commercialization. Brand evolution does, and should, occur over time as the company organically grows and accomplishes its mission. To effectively display, integrate and maintain your brand across all audiences and communication channels – including your website, social media and all internal & external communication materials – you must audit, refine and dedicate time to the process.

“Over my 20+ year career assisting life science companies at all stages with design and brand development, one precision medicine company was the most unique. They were experiencing exponential growth as a force in oncology as well as dimensionally as a company – launching new offerings in hematology and solid tumor genomics powered by AI with the goal of matching patients with the right emerging treatments and trial enrollents. The complexity of their offering required a sub-brand approach to help clearly define each product relationship within the parent brand. The sub-brands we helped develop provided the visual context for how the company ultimately explained to various audiences ‘what they do, how and why’,” said Joe Sardone, Vice President of Creative at MacDougall.

Takeaway: Integrate and reflect your brand across all channels. Remain consistent and core to your brand throughout your company’s journey.

Branding Doesn’t Happen by the Flip of a Switch

Building a corporate brand doesn’t happen overnight. The creative process can be a Pandora’s Box. It’s sometimes windy and difficult to navigate, but in the end debuting a beautiful brand is not only a great feeling, but is necessary to be successful in today’s increasingly competitive life sciences environment where differentiation is crucial. An effective and recognizable brand fuels employee recruitment, retention, awareness in the media landscape, and an overall positive consumer perception. And it makes you feel accomplished!

Takeaway: Process is everything, but chaos is essential. During the creative branding process, be patient. Digest, conceptualize, refine, adapt, deliver – and then breathe.

Do You Have Questions About Branding?

What parts of the creative branding process would you like to know more about? We are happy to answer, whether you are a MacDougall client or not. Comment below, tweet at us, or drop us a line.

Creative Services

Digital Media
& Content

More than a Tweet
Building your brand and voice is a key function of digital media, but, with the right goals in mind, digital media can be much more. Meet your audiences where they are by building digital campaigns and content that help to connect and engage your stakeholders.
  • Social media strategy & content
  • Narrative building
  • Blog creation and execution
  • Metrics, monitoring and reporting
  • Social listening
  • Executive digital profile strategy and management
  • Influencer monitoring and engagement
  • Digital advertising
  • Content creation, design and marketing
  • Video creation and podcasting


Credibility is your most important asset
Investor relations is about building trust, transparency and liquidity. The MacDougall IR team has helped many clients bridge from private to public and showcase our public clients to new investors and analysts.
  • Audience targeting
  • Shareholder communication
  • IPO preparations and communications
  • Conference calls & webcasts
  • Conference outreach and support
  • Presentations
  • Special events
  • R&D days
  • Perception audits

& Creative

A picture is worth a thousand words
Visual first impressions are so important in this era of precipitous information. Our digital and creative services team are true life science artists devoted to visual storytelling and capturing eyeballs.
  • Branding & identity​
  • Visual storytelling​
  • Logo design​
  • Website design & development​
  • Scientific illustration & MOA graphics​
  • Infographics / data visualization​
  • Animation & video production​
  • Presentation design​
  • Scientific posters​
  • HTML emails & newsletters
  • Advertisements


Be known for making a difference
Thought leadership campaigns open many channels to promote both a personal brand as well as your organization. Let’s pick a subject and run with it together.
  • Executive profile building​
  • Strategic counsel
  • Presentation coaching​
  • Speech writing​
  • Media training​
  • Social media​

Scientific & Medical Communications

Show and tell

From preclinical to platform to Phase 3 results, strategic medical and scientific communications is the cornerstone to building visibility and credibility with your target audiences.

  • Medical and scientific meeting support
  • Patient recruitment for clinical trials
  • Disease awareness campaigns
  • Patient advocacy outreach
  • Data communications
  • KOL identification and development
  • Custom scientific symposia/events​


We love telling stories
Public relations is about building your network and getting other people talking about you. We want to help you build buzz and credibility at the same time.
  • Company debuts​
  • Media campaigns ​
  • Social media strategy & content​
  • Press releases writing, editing & pitching​
  • Ongoing trend story development & pitching​
  • Conference tracking & management​
  • Disease awareness campaigns
  • Clinical trial recruitment campaigns
  • Media monitoring & analytics
  • Events​


Think before you talk
We have seen it all. Helping our clients navigate the macro and micro ups and downs of the life science and healthcare industry is our passion.
  • Corporate branding, positioning and message development
  • Product and technology branding
  • Public policy advisory
  • Crisis communications
  • Strategic communications plans
  • Capital markets advisory
  • Scientific and medical publication and presentation strategies
  • Board presentations
  • Competitive intelligence
  • M&A advisory & rebranding
  • Corporate rebranding