Top 7 Ways You Might Be Hurting Your Brand

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Do you often wonder what you could do to improve your marketing results at work?  Here is a list of the “Top 7 Ways You Might Be Unknowingly Hurting Your Brand”, in addition to 7 ways you can start working to fix those problems.


1. Marketing to the “Marketing Averse”

Scientists, physicians, and life science professionals are trained to look at the world through a microscopic and scrutinizing lens.  As far as they are concerned, the use of overt marketing buzzwords can stick out like a bad data run in the lab, ultimately turning them away from your business.

How to fix it:

Life science companies that produce successful marketing campaigns year after year now understand that success comes from demonstrating their value to consumers.  Purely marketing-centric campaigns often miss the mark here.  Remember that the content for your messaging should always be relevant to its intended audience without sounding like a blatant pitch.  Find the balance between ostentatious marketing and useful information with concepts that spark your audience’s curiosity and speaks to their needs as in industry professional.  Ultimately, this strategy forces your brand to demonstrate its value in a succinct and effective way, which is guaranteed to generate positive ROI when executed properly.


2. The Outdated Website

If there is anything that will make doctors and researchers think twice about your company and the products it offers, it will be the corporate website whose design looks like it was pulled straight from the late 90s.  It creates the ultimate bad first impression.  If a company looks like it has yet to crawl out of the digital Stone Age, that sends a disastrous message to prospective clients.  We all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, yet do our best to see that consumers get the best impression of our businesses when judging us at face value.

How to fix it:

If your company has the funds, set aside a budget for website maintenance and get to work on those upgrades as soon as possible.  This is not the kind of situation that should simply be left to gestation.


3. Unclear Naming Strategy

One thing you can say about great brands is that they know how to generate memorability around their products and services.  In part, this memorability comes from employing a well-honed naming strategy and architecture that carries itself across new product launches and established product lines.  At the moment, this strategy is not being used to its fullest in the life sciences. Some companies like GE Healthcare, Samsung Medison, Illumina have done well developing an ambiance and ingrained association to their product lines with such naming strategies, but these represent the exceptions to the rule.  More life science companies would be wise to invest in such tactics for the same reason as well.

How to fix it:

While there is no definitive formula for what makes a product name resonate in the minds of consumers, having that connective thread run across several products is a good way to help build a strong product brand and corporate brand simultaneously.  For your next product launch, sit down with your marketing team to have a pragmatic discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of enacting a naming architecture.  You may find the groundwork for inspiration has already been laid through previous product names.


4. Diluting the Message

In an effort to expand business, life science companies sometimes make the mistake of using the messaging they think will appeal to the broadest audience, but that can have serious side effects.  While the problem is closely related to the #1 issue stated above, this point is less concerned with the style of the way messaging is delivered and moreso looks to address the mistake of stripping a message of its strongest elements, thereby creating content that is not only generic, but weak compared to its predecessor.  By diluting the message in an effort to broaden your business’s appeal, you risk losing or outright overlooking your core user base.

How to fix it:

Identify your core audience and craft your messaging to appeal to their interests, needs and concerns.  The result will be an overwhelmingly more compelling message that resonates with your target market, ultimately building your credibility in that area.


5. Weak Customer Service

At last week’s Life Science Industry Awards in Washington D.C., Life Technologies won the coveted “Best Customer Service and Technical Service Award.”  With more than 6,000 scientists and researchers having voted on the winners, it’s clear that customer service is a crucial touch point in which life science companies should invest their time and efforts, particularly because it represents one of the few areas where life science brands can strongly distinguish themselves from their competitors.  When everyone manufactures similar products, adding a personal touch to your brand wherever possible could make all the difference between you and your nearest competitor.  By extension, poor customer service can greatly tarnish a company’s reputation, especially in this age of global connectivity where thoughts spread at the speed of a mouse-click.

How to fix it:

The key to effective customer service is not in scripting the interactions; it is in hiring the right people.  These individuals are selected based on their knowledge and capacity to become the perfect ambassadors for your brand.  When customers interact with these individuals, they should come away from the experience with a positive perception of your company.  Take time to find the right representatives as they will become perceived as both an extension and an embodiment of your brand in the eyes of customers. When you have found the right people, make sure to provide them with extensive training on the proper ways to engage with customers, rather than throwing them into the lion’s den after only a day’s worth of training as some organizations mistakenly do.


6. Shifting Tactics for No Good Reason

The decision to shift tactics is an important point of consideration for large and small life science companies alike. Often in the marketing industry, we make a point of altering campaign strategies every year for the sake of keeping things fresh both internally and externally.  But for the financially conscious – especially in the wake of the economic downturn – these kinds of strategy recalibrations could ultimately result in mounds of wasted money.  Today, these concerns are provoking many life science companies to spend more frugally, and the marketing department is often one of the first areas to suffer for said budgetary setbacks.  As executives bring closer scrutiny to the results of their organization’s marketing programs or lack thereof, it is important that life science companies begin considering all their options when launching a new marketing campaign rather than shifting tactics because superiors want something “new for the sake of being new.”

How to fix it:

Forget “freshness” and, instead, start worrying about consistency.  Not all life science companies have the deep financial resources to launch a new marketing campaign every year.  For that reason, an organization should feel no shame in “double dipping” on a previously established campaign.  With some new imagery and a few layout adjustments, you can essentially create a brand new concept that builds upon prior ones without burning through your budget.  Done well, you will have created a campaign that your existing and prospective customers can latch on to for the familiarity it inspires in them.


7. “Everyone’s Got It” Photography

Next to having an outdated looking website and misdirected messaging, using the same go-to stock photography of doctors, patients, researchers, and facilities can really be hazardous to a business’s health.  Standing out in this industry is already challenging enough when you are still trying to make it on the community radar.  Throw in a little commonplace photography and you’ve got a recipe for building forgotten brands.

How to fix it:

Remember that successful marketing in the life science industry requires creating a look and feel around your brand that can ultimately be claimed as “uniquely you.”  If you cannot or choose not to develop your own catalog of company owned photography, bringing a creative approach to stock photography is always a solid “Plan B.”


There you have it fellow life science branding and marketing aficionados, the “Top 7 Ways You Might Be Hurting Your Brand.”  Do you have any others that you think should be added to the list?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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