By Luke Perez, JD

For many companies, assessing brand strength is as easy as looking at market valuations. Especially for biotechs where investors tell companies what they think they are worth, it may seem like a known entity.

However, in my work with biotechs I know that investor perceptions drive the decisions they make and even, in part, the way they value companies. And far too many early-stage biotechs don’t focus on managing that perception through brand building.

Right up there with dynamic investor strategies and 5Ys, defining and strengthening a brand has an innate power:

A strong brand image leads to an increase in perceived value.

  • 82% of investors believe that brand strength is becoming more important in guiding them in their investment decisions [i]

Stakeholders value brands for more than just their products and platforms.

  • In complex biopharma categories, 64% of a company’s brand equity is driven by things other than products, services and innovation [ii]

A strong brand can weather the foreseeable and unforeseeable “storms” and is better positioned for the long-term.

  • A strong brand creates an emotional bond between a company and its stakeholders where the latter feels compelled to always think positively about a brand it supports
  • In a recent brand engagement study, 94% of investors said they are highly likely to support and recommend a brand they were emotionally engaged with [iii]

Now, what does it take to have a strong brand? Two vital components: the one that is very standard and a commonly used brand metric and the other that often falls by the wayside.

Brand value is the financial significance or worth of the brand as influenced by valuations and stock price over time. Again, this is the most commonly used barometer of measuring a biotech’s brand strength – albeit incomplete. On the other side, brand equity is the perceptions others have of the brand and the empathy they feel when they interact with it. It’s the humanistic qualities – i.e., brilliant, purposeful, endearing – stakeholders assign that make it rise above being a commodity.

Now, brand equity may seem like something nice-to-have, especially when products are years away from market, but it’s really not. Brand equity can be the differentiating sentiment of “brand X thinks differently” and that separation in the mind [and hearts] of investors is enough to secure additional funding. It can be the saving grace for shareholders who want to continue to believe in a pipeline when there’s unfavorable clinical trial news on a single agent. It’s the negativity stopgap that saves a company’s reputation when they have an internal issue go public.

It’s the other side of the brand strength equation that ensures loyalty for the long haul for your brand. And loyalty’s biggest drivers are empathetic connections. [iv]

Have you defined and articulated the equity/empathy your brand has? If not, I would enjoy an opportunity to demonstrate the power that lies on the other side of the equation.

SOURCES: [i] Reuters, 2014, [ii] PHARMVoice, 2014, [iii] Forbes, 2017, [iv] Forrester, 2018


This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Luke Perez, SVP, Head of Insights and Planning. For more insight into telling your company’s science story, check out our full series on why success starts with strategy.