Doing all the right things for biotech commercial launch success—including laying the early foundation of a brand.
It is always challenging for biotech, biopharma, or medical device companies to commercialize their intellectual property. Just how challenging can depend on several factors, not the least of which is to build the underpinnings of a brand story.
There are a thousand and one commercial challenges, from raising capital to building an organization─often from scratch. Getting the foundational stuff right is often the difference between making it and not making it.
How big do you think creating a brand presence is—especially for a company that has to worry about so many other things?
We recently conducted an unscientific survey with members of commercial teams at several new biotech enterprises. In other words, we asked our clients to list the top five success factors (excluding external factors such as regulatory approval, etc.) that a company must consider when commercializing a new product in the biotech, biopharma, or device space. The answers varied, but creating a strong brand presence was in all but one of the respondents' top five.
Taking steps early to put brand milestones in place is crucial.
Of course, spending too much too early on full-blown branding isn't prudent, but investing in some early foundational work certainly makes sense. This is often a tricky balance: spend too much and the board will want to know why; don't spend enough and the board will also want to know why.
What works, then, in situations in which you can be damned if you do and damned if you don't? One way of getting started─ but with minimal investment—is through a brand workshop exploration.
Brand Workshops provide several key starting points:
- Identify holes in the story from a data or target perspective
- Identify the starting components of the eventual brand story
- Set competitive strategies in motion
- Identify questions for initial quantitative research investment
- Determine what, if any, market preparation needs to be done
- Begin formulation of visual identity exploration from the learning that's been gleaned
- Determine basic message platforms and emotional levers
- Establish a consensus from all disciplines on the commercial team about the importance of moving forward with a unified brand story
So, although brand workshops are not what you would regard as numbers-crunching, hardline exercises, they do provide the early steps in building a strong brand story.
It is an important “do” for a biotech commercial team preparing strategy for a launch—the earlier, the better. Preventing obstacles to a strong brand story is a lot easier and less expensive than trying to solve problems that may arise later.
As the saying goes, when you are up to your butt in alligators, it's tough to remind yourself that the initial objective was just to drain the swamp.
Speaking of alligators, swamps, and things that can ruin your efforts, how about the “don'ts” of a commercial biotech brand strategy? Are there any to watch out for? According to a recent McKinsey report, these are five common pitfalls:
- Solution space has been defined too narrowly along current market needs
- External experts and customers have been either ignored or followed too blindly
- The industry, market, and technology context have not been considered dynamically
- Strategic options have not been pressure tested for some specific business opportunities
- Synergies and balances across different initiatives have not been fully leveraged
So, do you have the do's (like creating a strong brand presence) crucial to commercial success? Any don'ts? Now is the time to find out and course-correct.