Brand Managers: 6 Insights to Deliver on Brand Promise in Life Sciences
6/17/2022 Frank Costello
Whether you set one intentionally or not, your brand has given a brand promise to its customers. That promise is likely carefully curated through mission and vision statements, taglines, and some sort of communicated value, but it has also been built through consumer interpretation over time.
At its heart, your brand promise is really what your customer can expect from you during each transaction or encounter. And while every life sciences company’s brand promise should be unique, all have one thing in common: A need to deliver. Here are six things every brand manager needs to consider to ensure they deliver on their brand promise this year.
1. Chances are good your audience has grown
It wasn’t so long ago that doctors were consumers’ most-trusted healthcare advisors. However even pre-pandemic, consumers were taking a stronger lens to matters affecting their healthcare. From delayed (or omitted) vaccine schedules to medications and even non-conventional treatments, the consumer has been empowered.
While many in the life sciences space previously communicated directly to providers and experts, this consumer empowerment has added additional audiences that can (and should be) addressed. If a consumer were to research your brand or product, or even search for remedies in your space, what would they find? How would they interpret your brand and its promise? And would you deliver?
As always, your packaging matters. But so do your outreach, presence, and overall messaging and language. Evaluate your brand promise itself through the lens of how it can speak to your traditional audience(s) in addition to a new end user audience.
2. The marketplace has evolved — and then evolved again
Five years ago, who would have predicted we’d be able to order diagnostic medical tests through the mail? Or 10 years ago, that end-user consumers would voluntarily mail in — to an unknown entity — a vial of their DNA to learn more about genetic predispositions? Or how about telehealth and home visits?
Even the most established brands need to evaluate how their brand promise speaks to an extended marketplace. Is it clear where your products fit? Are there new arenas you might enter — and need to clearly define your brand position and promise within? You can’t deliver on a promise if the promise isn’t clear and communicated.
3. There are almost unlimited options
We’ve all seen the pharma ads on TV, speaking of the many miracles their drug can perform (accompanied by the 15 seconds of FDA-required disclosures, of course). But in this new era, every-day consumers are paying attention or even proactively researching potential medications and devices to alleviate ailments and monitor their health. Rather than waiting for a doctor to diagnose, consumers may look for self-administered alternatives. And in the course of their research, they’re bound to find more options than ever before.
With additional options, how will your brand stand out? According to a KPMG Consumer Loyalty Report, "Traditionally, the key drivers of consumer behavior have been value, convenience, and experience. Looking ahead, brands and retailers need to also consider choice, purpose, and privacy.” These tie directly to common brand promise elements.
Revisit your intentional promise and take a careful look at how you have delivered on it over time. If you’ve delivered by saying you’ve delivered, it isn’t enough anymore; think about ways to show you deliver on it — with proof points.
4. Consistency matters more than ever
According to the 2021 State of Brand Consistency report, 65% of respondents attribute brand consistency to having grown revenue by more than 10%, with 33% attributing it to more than 20% of growth. That consistency comes through everything it touches (e.g., advertising, customer communications, social media presence, and packaging). But with the broadened audience, you may need to consider your expanded brand presence to ensure uniformity in places that previously didn’t seem all that front-facing.
A box that may have never seen light outside the pharmacy counter could now accompany a professional on an in-home visit where an end user could see it or even have to use it after their visit. So, consider how that packaging ties into your brand promise and how each possible consumer will interpret it. That social post you wrote to reach an audience of pharmacists? An end user doing heavy due diligence could come upon it.
Everything you put out should reaffirm your brand promise and overall brand image — regardless of whose hands it may find itself in.
5. It’s not just what you say, but where you say it
Some elements of your brand promise require a bit of end-user interpretation. For example, how their experience maps to your quality or value position. Proactively communicating out your brand promise is an important part of building that relationship and letting people know what they can expect from you.
Communication channels continue to evolve both in terms of availability as well as how people are choosing to interact with them. If your brand creates multi-touch opportunities across multiple channels, then are these opportunities unified under a common initiative, style, message, etc.?
It can be tempting to shift your message (and even look) to meet the needs of different audiences. However, while the words and tone change, make sure all messaging ties back to the same brand promise – whether the promise is made in a medical journal advertisement/advertorial, healthcare provider marketing collateral, LinkedIn thought leadership piece, or simply shared through Facebook.
6. Train everyone who touches your brand
Everyone who works with your company is an extension of your brand — particularly if they’re client facing or part of your support team. Ensure that anyone who comments on your brand or its offerings is knowledgeable about what you offer, how you offer it, and how those elements directly deliver on your brand promise so they can accurately and consistently represent — and deliver on that promise.
To deliver on brand promise in today’s ever-changing arena, the key is to not only prove what’s been done in the past but also offer insights into how you will continue to do so in the future — with authenticity, consistency, and reliability.
Frank Costello is the Market Development Leader for RRD Life Sciences.