5 Brand questions every biotech CEO should ask in 2019

Thousands of industry executives, investors and consultants will flock to San Francisco next week for the 37th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference (JPM), with a shared objective: to capture dollars, strike deals and win mindshare.

With presentation deck prep in full swing, business leaders and communications pros are acutely focused on perfecting their story to break through the noise. It’s a veritable beauty contest, where equal parts substance and sizzle are required to “sell” the next great breakthrough with hopes it becomes part of the industry narrative for the next 12 months. For some companies, with limited dollars and outsized objectives, showing up at the highly competitive JPM gathering — with or without a podium slot — can feel about as impactful as spitting into the ocean.

So, what does brand have to do with impact at JPM? In a nut-shell: everything. That’s because in biotech, brand is synonymous with reputation. And reputation influences your ability to secure coveted meetings, investment dollars, and the talent needed to execute a winning business strategy.

It’s common to view brand as a logo, color palette, tagline, messaging platform or website. Those elements are 100% necessary and relevant, but do little on their own to telecast a company’s strength and activate long-term potential.

The most successful biotech companies build their brand by aligning vision, culture and image to catalyze results and reputation, becoming a magnetic force that attracts investors, partners and top-tier employees.

Is your brand aligned to create reputational pull? Here are 5 questions every CEO and head of communications should contemplate:

1. Does my company’s current reputation reflect my vision and company mission? Ask yourself if your founding “why” – the overall impact your company wants to make for the patients it serves – is coming across consistently in the office, board room, analyst reports and in the press. If not, determine where the misconceptions are and formulate a plan to shift off-base perceptions.

2. Is my company known for having a bold, differentiated purpose? It’s tempting to be all things to all people, but having a brand focus can more effectively drive results that help your company stand out. Turning that focus into a company cause that inspires and unites your stakeholders can amplify overall impact. My favorite recent movie line — “Fortune favors the bold” – rings true here.

3. Do my target audiences recognize and understand my company’s value proposition? Let’s face it, Wall Street may be tantalized by the future promise of your scientific inventions, but ultimately looks at performance metrics that hit the income statement and bottom line. In reputation-focused companies, there’s so much more to ascribe value to, but the onus is on the company to shine a spotlight on both the tangible and intangible assets that translate the company’s secret sauce into success.

4. Does my company brand carry weight in the industry, making it easy to convert investors, meet with potential partners, and hire the best and brightest talent? Being viewed as a great investment, a coveted partner, or a first-rate place to work makes a CEO’s job easier. But becoming that go-to brand is hard work, requiring continuous attention to building a success culture and communicating what you do and how you do it differently to create a halo effect of credibility and buzz.

5. Are all my employees aligned and able to articulate our company story succinctly and consistently? Employees who feel inspired and connected are the most effective brand ambassadors and can become a company’s most powerful marketing asset. They engage online, talk with customers, and represent your brand with every interaction. So, it makes good sense to arm them with a clear, compelling elevator pitch.

If you’ve answered these questions in the affirmative, great job! If not, it’s time for a brand reboot to optimize how your company is viewed and maximize what it is worth.

Let’s talk. We build high impact brands for mission-driven healthcare companies.

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