Branding is an important element of life sciences marketing. Without a strong brand, your digital marketing activity may not generate the impact you need.
But how will you know if you have a successful brand?
A lot of the guidance regarding measuring your brand is designed for mass-market consumer products and the tools and metrics they recommend–sales, social media mentions, and brand awareness surveys, which don’t always translate directly to the highly specialised nature of life sciences ventures.
Regular review and evaluation are a core part of any branding strategy, ensuring your life sciences brand remains relevant and continues to accurately represent your company as it evolves.
During different life science venture phases of; investment, product development and commercialisation, you may choose to assess your brand's performance against your peers or competitors, your company’s objectives, your performance over time – or a combination of the three.
Whichever approach you choose, you must evaluate both tangible and intangible aspects of your life science brand’s performance.
Life science brand value - functional
The functional value of a life science brand is more tangible and likely to incorporate measurement and analysis of data such as financial and other corporate performance figures or digital analytics.
Coming from a scientific background, your team may feel more comfortable with this kind of evaluation, but your brand specialist, Arttia Creative, can guide you through the complexities of which indicators are most significant for your company at different stages of the promotional journey.
For instance, what proportion of your website traffic is from branded keyword search (i.e. searching for your company, products or services by name) compared to non-branded (using generic terms) and why is this important?1
Life science brand value - emotional
The emotional value is the connection between your brand and your target audience. Evaluating such an intangible, qualitative aspect of your brand may be further from a core scientific skill set.
Yet research suggests that the emotional value of a brand is the most important2 - particularly true of life sciences and healthcare, where you need to engage different audiences with complex science that can seem quite dry.
Your brand must create an emotional connection between your science and the human stories that lie behind it in order to persuade investors and partners to commit to your journey with you. We at Arttia Creative can show you how to build and evaluate your brand’s emotional value.
There are three levels of emotional value your life science brand can create with your audience
#1 Interaction is a basic response to marketing activity: clicking on a link, opening an email, or watching a video.
#2 Engagement is one step up from interaction and involves being proactive: signing up to your mailing list, arranging a meeting, requesting more information, or seeking you out at an event.
#3 Participation3 is the ideal outcome: for most commercial brands, it involves changing buying habits or recommending a product to friends, but for a biotech or healthcare startup, it needs to go much further – advocating for your brand to their colleagues or partners, furthering dialogue with you, setting up NDAs to deepen discussions, and ultimately investing or entering a collaboration.
Life science brand measurement
Each of these stages can be measured – but the best indicator of a strong and successful brand is conversion rates from initial interaction to participation. No matter what objectives you have set for your brand, they will rely on persuading the right people to participate.
Other commonly cited indicators of brand success are awareness and perception–in other words, who has heard of you and what they think of you. The large-scale surveys that are a mainstay of evaluation for consumer brands are not relevant for many life sciences ventures.
Your brand, at least to begin with, will be aimed at a small number of specific people within a few specialised organisations and non-specialist market research companies can’t select survey respondents with that level of granularity. You will need to use a more targeted, less formal approach.
Your own contact lists are the best starting point to evaluate external brand perception. Use ongoing conversations with current and potential clients, partners and investors to find out how they perceive your brand.
Life science brand clarity
You can use more traditional methods (surveys, questionnaires) to canvass the perceptions of existing staff, new recruits or applicants and specialist agencies or freelancers you work with. It’s important to include these internal perceptions in your evaluation: for example, feedback from your marketing team on how smoothly your brand translates into advertising materials can be a key indicator of its suitability and ‘fit’.
If your branding is clear and coherent to your own team members, they will be able to embody and communicate it themselves. You are much more likely to attract the right people and develop them into assets to your business if your brand speaks to top talent the way you intend it to.
Life science brand awareness
For brand awareness, too, the conventional evaluation methods used by large consumer brands won’t be very useful to a new healthcare or biotech venture. You can’t look to high-level metrics like social media mentions to tell you how much of a ‘buzz’ your brand is creating. Again, the key is to tailor and target your approach. Where do successful companies in your field get talked about, and by whom? Has your latest event or campaign got people talking about your brand?
With expert knowledge of the sector and a range of advanced tools at their disposal, a branding professional, Arttia Creative specialised in the life sciences can measure the buzz you are creating where it really matters.
Life science websites
What search terms they used if they came to you from a search engine, whether your visitors clicked through from a particular piece of marketing material, where they went from your landing page and which parts of your website they visited for longest: all of this data, cross-referenced with your own commercial and marketing data, paints a detailed picture of how your brand is perceived and experienced by different stakeholder groups.
Research has shown the value of a strong brand identity and branding strategy for startups, particularly those based on disruptive innovation, which needs to persuade investors of the viability and attractiveness of your idea amongst a host of competing ventures.
To build a strong brand, you need regular reviews and evaluations. In a sector like life sciences, measuring brand success requires a tailored and specialised approach – but most healthcare startups are staffed more by scientists than entrepreneurs.
As well as creating a strong brand identity and effective branding strategy for your startup, an expert can:
- equip your website with the latest digital tools to gather granular data on web visitors allowing you to measure each stage of emotional value, as well as the transitions between them.
- collate, analyse and cross reference a variety of data sets and turn them into an accessible, actionable report on your brand’s performance.
- devise and measure customised indicators for non-website activity.
- identify the specialist media and forums most relevant to your business to monitor brand awareness more meaningfully.
- advise you on how to frame conversations with external stakeholders to elicit useful feedback and turn this feedback into data that can be collated and analysed.
- design brand perception surveys and questionnaires for internal stakeholders.
Failing to invest properly in your brand identity can be a false economy and fatal to your startup’s future. You may only get one chance to get it right.
Belinda White | Creative Director