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That’s What She Said: The Importance of Brand Integrity in Life Sciences

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12 Sep
2017

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the officeThat’s what she said: A classic Michael Scott line from one of my favorite TV series, “The Office”. While I won’t be discussing inappropriate innuendos like Mr. Scott, the “that’s what she said” one-liner can easily translate to how Marketing and Sales communicate, which ultimately affects brand integrity.

Hear me out on this.

Marketing creates specific messaging (i.e. that’s what she said) that Sales may miscommunicate because even though that’s what she (as in Marketing) said, did she (as in Sales) actually say that? Somewhere along the way, messages can often be misconstrued and improperly communicated. This is why brand integrity is so important.

Brand integrity is how consumers perceive your company and its products, image, and reputation. While every consumer experience may not meet or exceed your brand promise, when a brand loses integrity, its meaning and value to consumers diminishes.

Here are 3 more reasons why brand integrity is crucial in life sciences:

Brand Recognition

Simply put, brand recognition can’t exist without brand integrity. In order to foster brand recognition, life sciences organizations need to ensure consistency across all aspects of their organization, but especially in Marketing and Sales.

For these departments, brand integrity is typically made up of three brand properties: brand essence, brand voice, and brand promises. Brand essence is an articulation of your brand’s unique identity; brand voice is your brand’s consistent identity or the outward projection of its essence; brand promises are the things your brand guarantees to its consumers.

Only when the look, feel, experience, product, pricing, and/or service offerings are cohesive and consistent will consumers be able to recognize and trust your organization. This is especially crucial during mergers and acquisitions as well.

Do keep in mind, however, that brand recognition is a major factor that prompts individuals to purchase products or services, regardless of industry.

Brand Reputation

Don’t worry, this isn’t about Taylor Swift’s new album or Joan Jett belting “I don’t give a damn ‘bout my reputation”. It’s about how important your organization’s reputation really is.

In today’s digital age, consumers—healthcare providers, patients, hospital administrators, what have you—are more tech savvy than ever before, which also allows for more transparency and a keen sense for brand integrity. To be perfectly candid, consumers nowadays basically have a bulls#@t detector that operates on both a conscious and semi-conscious level. They can just feel when something isn’t lining up correctly.

Therefore, when Marketing and Sales messages aren’t aligned, prospective customers can tell. Whether intentional or otherwise, the damage to a company’s reputation is done in an instant, and often takes a long time to undo in the eyes of the consumer. It’s only when life sciences organizations have created a clear strategy with defined values, goals, and brand messaging, that their brand reputation is strengthened.

Customer Experience vs. Customer Expectation

While brand integrity is a cornerstone for Marketing—and the fabric of both brand reputation and demand generation—it’s as much a part of the Sales organization too.

Sales reps are the ones out in the field building a brand with powerful, face-to-face interactions. To be truly value-centric, sales reps needs to know their materials and brand messaging inside and out to communicate details with complete accuracy to healthcare providers (HCPs) and buying groups within a very limited timeframe.

While you may want to allow your Sales team the autonomy they need to surface and customize the right content to elevate the degree of engagement with your customers, this leaves many doors open for brand misrepresentation.

If the brand is misrepresented, there’s suddenly friction between customer expectation and customer experience, never mind the compliance repercussions that may be associated. It’s the pinnacle of quality when organizations deliver the same kind of service and experience to each and every customer.

Solutions to Maintain Brand Integrity

In a business environment where consumers are King, content and digital marketing is more heightened than ever, and the healthcare landscape is constantly changing—how exactly are life sciences organizations supposed to go about operating with brand integrity? Here are 3 suggestions:

1. Create or update your branding guide

In a highly-regulated environment, most life sciences organizations do in fact have a branding guide in large part due to the compliance issues that may come about. However, if your organization doesn’t have one, or it needs to be updated, make this a top priority. A branding guide will allow everyone to be on the same page and ensure your brand is being properly represented whether it’s for different departments, business units, or offices around the world.

2. Implement a centralized asset library

By creating a single source of truth, employees won’t need to search through multiple repositories to find the correct and most up-to-date information. One centralized library will give Marketing greater control to ensure consistency of messaging and to reduce potential rogue messaging from Sales, ultimately resulting in declined risk.

3. Deploy permission management

By assigning user permissions within a centralized asset library, users are only allowed to access the materials that they need. This will help user groups to find what they need quickly, but also enables more sensitive materials to be accessed on a need-to-know basis. If your organization has multiple business units, your Sales team in one business unit won’t have access to another business unit’s Sales materials. Likewise, your Compliance team may have access to all business unit materials. It all depends on your organizational structure, but having permissions in place will greatly reduce risk overall.

Lastly, but most importantly, understand that achieving true brand integrity is an ongoing process. Be patient and be receptive to change. Make change actionable by tapping into data and consumer interactions on a consistent basis, then use this information to refine your product offerings and brand message. At the end of the day, focus on making “that’s what she said” a reality and you’ll make Michael Scott (better yet, your organization) proud.

Digital Transformation in Life Sciences

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