I live in the beautiful city of Boston, MA, home to almost 1,000 biotech firms, ranging from small start-ups to billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed that there is a deafening absence of strategy around sonic branding in this industry—an industry that is too often perceived as austere even lacking in humanity and warmth, despite its vital role in contributing to people’s health.
As a sonic branding strategist, I am convinced that exceptional healthcare, in addition to being built on strong science, also includes at its foundation, compassion and respect.
Therefore, these brands would be better served to engage with patients, caregivers, clinicians, key opinion leaders, and payors in a more emotional, authentic and HUMAN way.
Music is a powerful way to deepen the emotional resonance of a brand and create a long-lasting positive CONNECTION with patients and others served by the brand.
And yet, while sonic branding may apply to any kind of industry, biotechnology, life sciences and pharmaceutical brands remain surprisingly – silent.
So why aren’t these brands taking the first step and engaging their marketing team to embrace a more holistic branding approach that includes sonic branding?
Here are some of the reasons:
- Sonic branding is still a relatively new concept, not well understood by either clients or their agencies.
- The task of promoting medicine presents regulatory risks and financial uncertainties unlike those in any other industry. Music isn’t something the marketing department and the FDA are familiar with.
- There is also a financial risk inherent to spending money on marketing during the development phase of new drugs; a time when new products may not make it through the regulatory process to get to the marketplace.
- Finally, pharma companies are still very conservative and are cautious about doing anything new when it comes to marketing.
Having a distinct and identifiable sonic identity could engage patients, doctors, caregivers in a more authentic way, enhance recall of a treatment or a disease, and build trust overtime.
In the digital world where so many of us live, and with the added reality of trying to capture consumers’ fleeting attention, it makes even more sense to reinforce the visual message with a crafted audio message that conveys the values of the brand.
Let’s take podcasts as an example: more than half of Americans have listened to a podcast, with 32% listening monthly, according to Edison Research.
Conal Byrne, president of iHeartMedia, says podcasts are “… a perfect medium to enter into a trusted environment where people are looking for answers and give them long-form answers.”
The opportunities to adapt pharmaceutical’s unique sound into various touchpoints, either on a corporate level or on a specific drug are endless– as the graph below illustrates:
Whether it is for a branded or unbranded campaign, pharma and biotech companies need to differentiate themselves from their competitors and be the leader in their sector by extending their brands to include a sonic identity.