As a strategist, it’s my M.O to be interested in the interconnectedness of all things and we’ve recently seen a significant development in a trend I’ve been watching, and talking about for a while.

As well at the latest Molecule to Market podcast episode, where Jim Miller discussed the important of building a brand that helps to form partnerships, Gartner’s 2021 CMO spend survey showed that brand strategy is now the top priority for marketing teams for the coming year. This is the first time that investment in brand strategy has been seen as a higher priority than marketing technology and marketing analytics for over a decade.

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to make organisations re-evaluate their business and investment strategies, businesses see that trading short-term marketing tactics for longer term investment in brand is the best and safest way to ensure marketing ROI.

This trend is particularly important to the life sciences industries for three reasons:

  1. Like most B2B industries, life sciences marketing is highly commercial, so the link between brand strategy and lead generation needs to be clear. When other industries are seeing brand investment as a commercial play, we need to take notice.
  2. There is little in the way of brand distinction as marketers have focused on more short-term tactical marketing. Messaging, visual identity, value propositions and brand narratives tend to be homogenous and lack consistency, authenticity, relevance and customer centricity.
  3. Buyers are engaging sales and business development teams later in the buying journey which means less time for BD teams to be able to reinforce their unique selling points. This means that brand must play an increasingly important role in the buying journey to create distinction.

And this is the context in which investment in brand strategy really impacts sales. Distinction, customer centricity, consistency, relevance and authenticity are how life sciences organisations drive lead generation. In this industry, it has never been about ‘whoever shouts the loudest’; highly technical and scientific propositions require nuanced marketing to find the right customers for the right reasons.

A brand strategy brings together what customers need with how an organisation is uniquely placed to address that need.  A brand strategy is the central marketing foundation around which all external marketing is built because it creates the method for influencing the decision-making of customers. It gives us customer segmentation, tone of voice, organisational heritage, operational principles, value proposition and blends them into unique, tailored narratives about a company’s capabilities.

Having a brand strategy is the most effective way to orientate your company around customer need and therefore drive marketing ROI. It is the most potent weapon a company has right across the funnel.

To know if your brand is working hard enough at the bottom of the funnel you can ask yourself four questions:

  1. Do you understand the functional and emotional influences on your different customer groups?
  2. Is your marketing consistently telling authentic, original, customer centric stories across every channel?
  3. Are you basing your marketing and communications on more than just your expertise and capabilities?
  4. Do you know the culture, principles and practices that keep your colleagues motivated?

If you’ve answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, your brand strategy may need some work.