Biotech Branding: What Is the Best Approach?

Branding in the biotech space can also be seen as branding innovation and branding characteristics. The industry has seen a steady growth in the past few years, and has been responsible for some of the most well-known and highly regarded medical and technological advances seen in that time. And as with any growing industry, branding and the development of a strong brand will go a long way in determining success.

Biotech branding can be focused on either the products and new scientific developments or the companies who are responsible. For this article, the focus will be on the product side of the industry. How does biotech get the branded word out about its new innovations?

A strategic approach to the branding process will provide the brand with the necessary aspects developed with a larger brand in mind, allowing for efficiency and higher chance of effective branding.

We work with products whose technological breakthroughs have altered the entire course of patient treatment with a particular disease, a characteristic prominent in the biotech space. Recent blockbuster biotech assets have been developed that replace the timing and administration of treatment for certain diseases, which in turn changes the impression of the disease to those it impacts. With the new products, patients no longer have to schedule their life around the disease and treatments—they can now live their lives in spite of their diagnosis.

When branding a product with this type of impact, there is a strong indication to speak to this impact in the branding. Speak to the desired outcome in place of branding the science behind the product. This strategy should be carried throughout the name development process, messaging, positioning and visual identity to highlight and communicate its characteristics.

This strategy is a unique aspect of biotech branding in which brand development focus tends to be on the patients, unlike other areas of pharmaceutical branding. One of the reasons for this focus is that these patients, who are looking for that groundbreaking and life-changing product to come to market, will see the real-life impact of these products.

Characteristics of Biotech Branding

The job of the brand is to communicate to patients the benefits and aspirations of what the product can achieve. Like any other product, you only get one chance to make a first impression. The first contact most audiences will have with a product is through its name, therefore much of the branding effort starts here.

Another distinct characteristic: From a scientific standpoint, one product can be used to treat multiple diseases. In this case, the branding for the associated product has to be developed in such a way that ensures none of the diseases treated hold too big of a space in the brand. For instance, if there is an indication the product can be used in treatments for both diabetes and liver disease, the brand and the brand name should not contain elements that provide unequal acknowledgement of these very different diseases.

In this case, the brand name is often developed with a heightened focus on the science behind the drug, finding the commonality that allows for branding relevant to both diseases.

Branding the science and branding the desired outcome of a new product are two distinct directions to take when working through branding a biotech product, as they represent the two most differentiating characteristics of this space. The science behind the product development in the biotech space is such that the newest developments have a strong impact on the market, and therefore are quality candidates for branding focus.

Breakthrough in development carries with it expected and desired outcomes that move the needle with consumers, whether it is patients, doctors or medical professionals. The advantage to focusing a branding strategy on the desired outcome is its immediate and tangible quality. The outcomes can be publicized, identified and quantified, giving the brands centered around these characteristics real-life connections.

Plan for the Future

When the possibility exists to develop a brand name, which is strongly tied in with the product’s biological characteristics, it would be wise to keep an eye toward the future. These brands are, for better or worse, permanently associated with the biology and can rise and fall along with it. If the possibility exists that a competitor’s product that holds the same characteristics will be on the market, or if the long-term reaction to the biology is not yet determined, developing a name that keeps some gap between the product and the biology would safeguard against these risks.

Once a strong, well thought out, relatable and powerful brand is developed, it must be communicated to the public. In this case, straightforward messaging leads the way. Consistent messaging will allow for more recognition of your brand throughout the various touch points with the audience, letting the brand work on its growth organically. Strong brands stand the test of time becoming synonymous with the product or organization they represent. In order to see a brand strategy reach its full potential it must be allowed to touch each part of the company or product. From advertising and marketing to company collateral, a strong brand will be present in some form throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Provide Consistent Information

Additionally, consistent messaging will allow for more recognition of a brand throughout its lifecycle, from clinical trials to when it is on the market, allowing the brand to work on its growth organically.

Rarely is there a situation in which products have the type of impact where mindset and treatment of a disease are revolutionized. But in the biotech industry, that is becoming an increasingly common result. As such, the branding that touches these medical breakthroughs carry the weight of this potential public impact and the responsibility to communicate the product’s message to those in need of its benefits.

  • Brannon Cashion

    Brannon Cashion is President of Addison Whitney, a part of inVentiv Health. With more than two decades of marketing experience, Brannon Cashion has led Addison Whitney’s offerings in brand strategy and development, brand name and logo creation, corporate identity consulting and market research, and oversees Addison Whitney’s offices in Charlotte, NC, Munich, Germany, New York, NY, Seattle, WA, London and Tokyo, Japan.


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