Branding in a Digital Age - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Branding in a Digital Age


Guide to Branding


A BRAND IS NOT A LOGO In reality, a logo is merely a visual representation. Color, photography, typeface, and copy play a part in reinforcing the experience. But they, too, are just tools used to create a visual association to a brand, a way of saying, "When you see this mark you know the product delivers certain expected returns, and you can count on them being there every time you have any contact with our brand. Similarily brand associations can be both positive and negative. If one has a bad experience with your brand, your logo will only serve to let them know exactly who it was that created it.

MARKETERS DO NOT CREATE THE BRAND Brand agencies and their clients succumb to this hubris when they begin to believe they alone control or are responsible for the brand. Brands are nurtured and cared for, but they are largely free-spirited things that can change on a dime. If there is a problem in branding right now, it is that brand managers sit in a room and try to decide what a brand should mean and then invest tremendous amounts of energy and effort to make their creation a reality.

A BRAND IS DEVELOPED ON ITS OWN Print, broadcast, point-of-sale, direct-to-consumer, and digital are not separate and mutually exclusive channels acting in isolation. Great branding is a continuum. Successful brands create integrated experiences where one channel feeds into and off of another. For one patient, offline advertising may get the story rolling, but the payoff may be delivered online. For another, online may provide the genesis of a relationship that is nurtured through CRM, which in turn cycles back to deeper, more personalized online experiences.

DIGITAL PARTNERING

In many ways, partnership is the brand. The self-paced nature of digital functionality allows branders to nurture the partnership the old-fashioned way—over time.

Digital branding enables branders to build trust through information. We can position our products within an online culture through camaraderie, compassion, and communication.

The greatest advice is perhaps the oldest: Know your audiences...all of them. Learn how they communicate. Why they learn. How they learn. What their fears are. What they care about. Use focus groups, surveys, interviews, and tests. Listen to what the voices are telling you.

WHO ARE YOUR PARTNERS?

Patients are not the only ones who visit the Web sites. Often, it is a patient's loved ones and/or caretakers who are conducting the searches, particularly with graver diseases, like cancer.

A brand team should not lose sight that medical care often extends several levels beyond the patient. A good brand brings audiences together around what unites them: the illness.

CREATING A COMFORT ZONE

Each disease or condition has a culture surrounding it, complete with expectations, fears, and emotions that shape the environment. A newly diagnosed cancer patient in her first round of chemotherapy has different needs than someone who is in her third year of treatment. Know these needs.

A true understanding of the culture of an illness allows a branding team to position brands into a preexisting environment where half (or more) of their work is already done.

The audience doesn't perceive itself to be visiting a pharmaceutical company's Web site, per se. Rather, they are entering an on-demand, digital world built around an illness where they can trust the information and learn what to expect, how to manage their lives, tips to cope, and ways to meet other patients like themselves.

This is a comforting place to be. An environment which is not so much manufactured as tapped into. In an online space, shielded by anonymity, visitors are free to speak honestly about their beliefs, their fears, and their experiences. Information should be given in a straight and easy manner, just as it would come from their doctor.

It is never too early to start a brand experience. The best time to establish a brand is when the audience doesn't need it, when they have yet to put up their guard.


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