As founder and creative director of the natie Branding Agency, I’ve worked with companies in industries ranging from jewelry and fashion to biotechnology and data intelligence. And though their products, visions and goals were quite different, they all had one thing in common: they all needed a story. (Which is something you can say about every company that wants to form an emotional bond with their customers.)
Since me and the natie team are headed to the BioMed Conference in Tel Aviv, we thought we’d take a closer look at brand stories for companies in the medical industry, where, in our experience, everyone is striving to making life better in one way or another. This is especially true in Tel Aviv, where healthcare and medical companies are continuously innovating and breaking new ground, influencing tech in other parts of the world, and changing the very way people interact with and adopt new innovations.
Shaping your story
In looking at the elements of these stories of medical innovation (or any story, for that matter), it’s important to understand that it’s not just what you say; it’s also knowing who you’re talking to and tailoring your story to their needs and experiences. So whether it’s a medical startup or a pharmaceutical giant, the message, tone, and content all need to speak specifically to each distinct audience.
And the medical industry has a more diverse set of audiences than most – physicians, researchers, nurses, administrators, patients, suppliers, investors, and the public – all with their own interests and agendas, making a company’s story resonate differently for each one.
In the medical industry, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.
But how do you develop these different communications? It all starts the way it always does: with a communications or brand strategy. Out of that comes the brand story itself – something so fundamental that it says who you are and what your purpose is to each one of your audiences.
With this foundation laid, you can then begin customizing it for different audiences based on your product, services, and business objectives. Perhaps you’re a biotech company with a treatment that’s just emerged from clinical trials and now you’re ready to reach out to doctors and patients. (You might have one or two audiences, or you might have more.)
Your audience(s) is key
It’s time to decide what message gets delivered to each of them. Which part of your story will be most meaningful to doctors and which to patients? How will the tone that you use with them differ? Where will they see or hear what you have to say? These are all crucial questions.
Take Medisafe, a client of ours that developed an app to help people stay on top of all their medications in addition to other services. After developing a strategy and manifesto, we needed to figure out how to talk to three very different audiences: patients, physicians, and service providers.
We all knew the story couldn’t be told the same way to each group for them to fully understand its benefits. To patients, Medisafe needed to speak in a reassuring and confident way to provide peace of mind to people who would rely on the app to remind them to take potentially life-saving medication. To physicians, we needed to speak knowledgeably to convince them the app would help them deliver the best care to their patients. And with hospitals and service providers, Medisafe needed to focus on the practical benefits of increased productivity across the entire continuum of care.
So while Medisafe is always the same company with the same mission, how they tell their story and which points they emphasize for their different audiences requires them to have a deep understanding of exactly what their product offers to each group. And though it might not be a direct result, their $14.5 million investment round shows they’ve done a heck of a lot right with their communications.
Powerful companies still need powerful stories
On the other end of the spectrum, well-established companies can benefit from an understanding of who their audiences are and how to talk to them, too. Valtech Cardioband, a game-changing treatment for mitral valve regurgitation, decided after more than a decade of research and development that it was time to take their business to the next level.
We worked closely with them to elevate the story of what they do and how into the realm of why. They could explain why, of course, but their answers had to be woven into a powerful narrative that would resonate and inspire their audiences and extend their reach and influence.
To produce the recognition and results they were looking for, we developed a story that was based on their already successful brand, and we told it in a way that emphasized their compelling vision and their leadership in the fields of vascular and gene therapy. We applied that same thinking to their visual identity, too. And while we can’t claim responsibility for their $690 million acquisition by Edwards Lifesciences, all that branding goodness certainly didn’t hurt.
In short, every medical brand has a story – every viable company has a story! And while all these innovators share a desire to help people, one of the factors that will differentiate them will be how they tell their story and whom they tell it to. Will it be the right story told to the right people – the people who can help them succeed and make the impact they hope to make? It’s a crowded industry, and an inspiring, powerful brand story can help you stand apart from the crowd.
Personally, one of my greatest joys is when I see our clients succeed. I know the entire natie team feels the same way. When it comes to clients who are improving our world by improving the health of the people in it, well, the feeling is that much sweeter.