By Amanda Sellers

It’s the time of year that brings hope, excitement and expectations for the New Year. And that’s certainly the case for the biotech industry, with #JPM18 kick-starting the season of evaluating science, predicting industry trends and vying for attention from potential investors/partners.

For companies that are presenting at JPM, the pressure of the presentation is on, along with all of the social commitments that come with building relationships and building a company’s name and brand. But many of these early stage companies—those in pre-clinical or moving quickly to Phase 1—are navigating a sea of science and, often, technology, both of which are becoming increasingly more complicated and nuanced. And so building that name and brand for a company can come with some challenges:

Challenge #1: Explaining the Science Simply

Emerging companies are oftentimes the brain child of experienced, thought-leading scientists, solely focused on their respective field for years. With that said, there is the need to first explain the science in an understandable way, then dive into the details – the biological pathways, the combination of chemistry and computation, the ability of the candidates to address the white space and meet a unique patient need. In the business of biotech, science is the differentiator for those companies that achieve wild success – but it’s the ability to tell a simple, clear story of how the science is a game-changer that can set a company apart.

Challenge #2: Making Time to Build a Brand

As early-stage companies recognize the potential of their science, they may be focused on the nuts and bolts of growth and organization. What role do partnerships play in growth? Is the end goal an acquisition? One thing that often gets overlooked is branding. But it is key for early-stage companies to develop their own identity and brand, including messaging and visual communications. If there’s a great science story to be told, but no one hears it or can identify the company it’s coming from, then what’s the point? By building a brand, companies create an association with their leadership, values, expertise and science – all selling points for whatever path the early-stage company decides to take.

Challenge #3: Creating the Right Following

Unfortunately, you can’t rely on “build it and they will come” when you are building a brand. You’ll have to create a following through establishing a presence on select communications platforms and making a cognizant effort to reach and target the investors, media and partners who matter most. As an early-stage company, it’s not important to reach everyone – but, it’s strategic to reach precisely the people who will take notice of your science, leadership and brand to help achieve your goals.

So, how can companies meet these challenges head on?

The key is in driving persistent & consistent communications. In building a brand and creating an audience for a company’s story, the concept of regular, consistent communications drives frequency of the message. This is core to any communications campaign. And sharing the message across a range of multidimensional platforms that all work together—traditional earned media, social media, owned assets (especially a website), and even often sponsored content (paid media)—drives the message home.

With stiff competition for share of voice, it’s imperative that emerging companies leverage their science to create a differentiated story for their brand and use a multi-dimensional approach in the marketplace to share that story and connect with the right audiences.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Amanda Sellers, Executive Vice President. Amanda leads the consumer science practice and, over her 12-year tenure at Spectrum, has developed, led and managed strategic communications programs for pharmaceutical brands, patient advocacy initiatives, emerging biotechnology and consumer packaged goods companies.