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Pharma Marketers’ Blog: How Strong Is Your Brand?

Authored by Maxine Smith, Managing Director, Uptake for the PME Pharma Marketers’ Blog

In this article, Maxine explains that if we want to reap the benefits of a strong brand, inspire our teams, and share the passion with our customers, we need to plan our tactics, programmes and the channels we use with at least one eye on our brand.

A strong brand can convey trust, build an enduring relationship with the customer, and drive loyalty. Stronger brands have been seen to outperform the market.

Read below or click to access the published version

Is your brand still working hard and being translated consistently?

As meetings go, it was on the unusual side – no slides, no lengthy presentations, just images of all our communication and branding from the year all captured in one place. In terms of productivity, it is up there as one of the top sessions this year. What were we doing? We were running our annual Branding Check.

Our Branding Check meeting is where we lay out as many examples of our communication and branding from the last 12 months as possible, together with our Brand Book, and then we ruthlessly check, challenge, discuss and audit each example to examine the consistency and strength of brand translation. It revealed some interesting results and has had the effect of tightening consistency and galvanising the team to a more faithful version of our brand.

The strength of your brand and brand translation is probably overdue for a health check as it is quite likely to have been under threat from the pressure of virtual working, the explosion of channels we are now using for communication and the expansion of the number of team members developing communication materials, all under the umbrella of our ‘brand’.

A strong brand can convey trust, build an enduring relationship with the customer and drive loyalty. As many of the leading consumer brands have demonstrated over many years, big brand value is built on emotional equity. If we were to look at the balance sheet of large brand building consumer businesses, we would see that the largest value sits in the intangible assets of the brands. What this tells us is that in marketing, we are the custodians of the most valuable assets of the company.

Stronger brands have been seen to outperform the market as a whole. They have greater customer recognition, may impact the price and can also increase employee motivation and engagement. The reason for this? As Dan Hill explains in his book ‘Emotionomics’, ‘80% of all decision-making is done on an emotional basis’ and it is the emotional connection we create through our brands that can drive this success.

Traditionally in pharma we tend to be rational and scientific and be constrained by what can be signed off medically. In our experience some brand teams do invest the time and creativity in building a Brand Portrait and defining a Brand Personality which then goes on to shape brand campaigns and more. We can use different models such as Keller’s Brand Equity Model, the classic favourite the ‘Brand Onion’ or ‘Brand Wheel’ or the Brand Positioning Model to help us shape how we want our customers to perceive our brand, what we would like it to stand for and how we will connect with our customers.

The models are there to guide our brand development but the riskier part, particularly in the current environment, is the ‘Brand Translation’. Once we have developed our insight-based, emotionally resonating brand and we know what it stands for, we need to ensure that every single communication, across every single channel, to every single customer, upholds and strengthens this brand – consistently. We need to consider how we:

  • Use images in communication
  • Make the most of colour association to connect with the brand
  • Plan the style and manner of our customer interactions
  • Consistently use the specific brand lexicon we have created to help signal key ‘on brand’ words and concepts
  • Deliver experiential internal training to customer-facing teams (both remote and in person) to ensure they are brand champions and can demonstrate authentically what is special and different about the brand and company they work for
  • Share our brand and the emotional connection through different channels and platforms.

The speed and scale of the explosion of channels that we are now using daily with our healthcare customers and people who use our medicines and solutions could lead to a real dilution of the impact of our brands. Many companies and teams transitioned to virtual and digital communication with excellent results – it was achieved in the spirit of necessity being the mother of all inventions. But now, when we are standing back with our client teams and reflecting on what has been learnt to enable them to plan effectively moving forward, we are realising that a robust and consistent translation of the brand across all activities may have been the casualty.

If we want to continue to reap the benefits of a strong brand, inspire our teams and share this passion with our customers, we need to plan our tactics, programmes and the channels we use with at least one eye on our brand. The first step towards improving this is to compare all the recent brand and communication materials side by side, looking for strong translation and removing/strengthening where the ‘brand’ has strayed. The best way to do this? Book in your team Branding Check meeting. Good luck!

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