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.