Jack Health Blog
August 16th, 2022 By Jimmy Doucette
Three ways healthcare companies can demonstrate commitment to the people and values their customers care about
Biopharma companies are known for consistently harnessing innovation from a clinical standpoint and for using the most exciting technology and global distribution teams to bring those medicines to billions of people worldwide. However, their greatest opportunities have always been in how they engaged with the public.
Everything has changed over the past two and a half years. Consumers’ relationships with drug developers are completely different than they were at the start of 2020. Sure, the superhero role the biopharma industry played in the pandemic was a huge factor, but it didn’t start there. Looking back, we first started to see a change in the relationship between the public and biopharma companies about five years ago.
First we saw biopharma companies invest heavily in patient-centric marketing with the goal of showing patients that the teams developing their medicines truly understood their challenges, and to show HCPs and caregivers what it felt like to stand firmly in the patients’ shoes. Simultaneously, consumers began growing increasingly more health conscious, with greater access to their own personal health data than ever before thanks to advances in wearables and other technology. And in recent years, patient groups have been more active in demanding more equity, transparency in access to data, trials and information, and financial support. Then, the pandemic hit, and the public turned to the biopharma industry for solutions to end months of anxiety, isolation, and anguish. Biopharma companies quickly stepped up to the challenge, collaborating like never before with peers, laboratories, and higher education institutions. In mere months, we saw an unprecedented acceleration of innovation with tangible and efficacious diagnostic tools, treatments, and preventative vaccines.
So as the dust starts to settle (for now, at least), a new kind of relationship between the biopharma industry and the public is beginning to emerge. Biopharma companies continue to show advocacy for patients and are working to answer the public’s call for greater equity and transparency. And the public now knows how much impact this industry can have.
Welcome to the age of impact branding in healthcare! This next phase is an opportunity for corporate biopharma brands to demonstrate their commitment to making real impact in the lives of their patients through patient-centric and empathic experiences that show the benefits their medicines and brands have for so many people. And what better proof point than our emergence from a global pandemic against a novel pathogen, where every human being is a potential patient?
To be successful in such a dramatic shift in brand strategy, the industry must raise awareness of and realign corporate brands behind impact vs. product commercialization; invest in the personalities, messages, and differentiators of corporate brands; and find new places where the public can connect with the corporate brand. Here’s how:
Raise awareness and realign corporate brands behind impact
If we asked the general public which Covid-19 vaccine they received, it’s most likely that they’d respond with the name of a company (e.g., Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) versus the brand name of the vaccine (e.g., Comirnaty® or Spikevax). The same is true of Regeneron’s antibody treatment (branded REGEN-COV). These companies saw more reward than risk as people started to associate their corporate brands more broadly with these lifesaving treatments.
Likewise, when Pfizer, Sanofi, and GSK rebranded recently, each did so by stepping away from the literal images associated with their commercial organizations. When Pfizer “unpacked the pill” and Sanofi “asked what if?” they developed brands that prioritized making an impact for patients over commercialization by committing to science and asking hard questions. Or, like GSK, embraced “tech-flavored”, consumer-forward branding vibes, even as they spun off their consumer business.
Invest in the personalities, messages, and differentiators of corporate brands
With new brand identities representing one of the shifts away from traditional biopharma marketing, companies are also increasing investment in their corporate brands and reputations. If branded medicines represent the commercial aspirations and realities of prescription medicine, then the corporate brands represent the potential total impact of those portfolios. And it’s the impact of those portfolios that patients, caregivers, and HCPs care about most today. Amongst industry leaders, investment in their corporate brands has become a larger priority in the past year.
Find new spaces where the public can connect with the corporate brand
Corporate healthcare brands have entered the world stage, and it’s not just to sell medicines – it’s to show their global impact. Coming off of their first Super Bowl ad, Hologic signed a significant sponsorship with the Women’s Tennis Association. Sanofi will be the national sponsor for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Abbott made headlines with their attendance and CEO keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The world’s relationship with healthcare brands has changed, and the ways and places healthcare brands tell their stories is changing right along with it. Corporate brands can align with likeminded organizations and cultural events to show the public what they stand for and deliver proof on their brand promises.
In the age of impact branding, consumers expect corporations and their brands to stand for something, to make a positive impact on the world. And with the emphasis on corporate brand reputation versus their individual product brands, biopharma companies must be ready to show the public how they are delivering proof on their corporate brand promises. This shift is something biopharma companies should embrace. Afterall, their corporate brands will have far greater longevity than product brands, and they’re the ones sparking the next round of innovation long before a regulatory body approves a medicine for distribution.