What Makes a Great Brand Director
April 19, 2017
A successful life sciences brand director must be able to do it all, expertly juggling communication and marketing, budgeting and networking to deliver one crucial result: a strong image of your brand that crosses company and public lines to drive sales.
With a rapidly changing life sciences marketplace, a brand director working in the life sciences field must be able to react quickly to trends and changing regulations, diverse audiences and company ups and downs. In life sciences, brand management is crucial, as a global company’s fortunes can plummet when a brand message isn’t executed well.
So what makes a great brand director? Here are some of the traits that are indispensible if you want to succeed in this diverse, rewarding, and challenging role.
1. An innovative mind.
A top brand director understands that they can’t just react to what competitors are doing; they must innovate to set the tone. They keep abreast of new marketing developments, encourage creative thought within their team, and always push to be at the forefront of the next big trend.
2. A faithful attention to the company’s core goals.
The branding must work together with the company goals. This cannot be emphasised enough. A brave new marketing campaign may attract attention, but if it does not attract attention within the company’s target audience or in a way that corresponds to the company’s desired image, it is not a successful campaign. A great brand director believes very strongly in the company goals, and all branding exercises are filtered through the prism of these goals.
3. Good financial acumen.
Life science brand directors often control a multi-million-dollar budget, so your budgetary oversight and planning skills must be superb. Additionally, you will need an excellent relationship with the finance team to develop solid sales forecasting and budget allocations.
4. A long-term view.
The brand director must have a long-term plan for the brand. Brand managers must consider how to keep the customer base engaged in future, how to expand that customer base, and also be ready with strategies in the event that customers start consuming marketing in different ways (much like social media disrupted traditional marketing over the last decade). A great brand manager has an ethos of evolution in branding strategy, rather than stasis.
5. Ownership of the brand.
You’re running the show, with a multi-million-dollar budget. You’re the brand director, so everyone is looking to you for answers. Walk the walk and take ownership of the brand. Be wary of appearing weak or uncertain; offer solutions and show strong vision, before throwing the floor open to feedback and other ideas.
6. Incredible relationship-building skills.
A great brand director must be a fantastic communicator and networker. Inside the organisation, a brand director must hold their own among the other departments, with strong relationships and good bargaining power. Brand directors will work particularly closely with communications and finance. Outside the company, the brand director must maintain favourable relationships with external policy groups, KOLs, lobbyists, and regulatory bodies relating to health products and services.
7. Excellent knowledge of the global marketplace.
The life sciences industry (and pharmaceutical sector) is undergoing a period of immense change, with drug patents expiring apace and global regulations in flux. A good brand director is on top of these changes and works closely with policy groups and business intelligence analytics to spot trends, threats, and opportunities for the company brand.
8. Excellent organisational ability.
A brand director must have everything they need to manage the brand instantly at hand, starting with a central library of all branding assets, such as all logos, fonts, pantones, promotional materials, etc. A thorough company branding manual can easily run into the hundreds of pages. This is brand management 101, but many companies, big and small, fail to have an organised library of branding materials.
9. Versatility under pressure.
A brand director must be able to adapt to breaking news. They must be up to date on industry news, with every bit of information filtered through the lens of ‘what does this development mean for our brand?’ It might be groundbreaking news such as a competitor reaching the market with a rival drug first, or news about regulation change by the FDA. Whatever the case, a good brand director is informed, adaptable, and can arrive quickly at a considered response.
10. A clear, cohesive vision
It is important not to get sidetracked as a brand director. There are so many enticing marketing strategies in the world, but you must decide on your strategy firmly and commit to following that path faithfully (unless of course a new course is required).
Your job is to provide vision, show the path to get there, and hold together the different pillars of the plan. If your team is working on different parts of the strategy, be sure to explain how one flows into the other to keep everyone working cohesively towards the common goal.
11. Cultural sensitivity.
It’s hugely embarrassing when a company launches an international brand, only to discover the brand name they’ve chosen translates to a rather creative swear word in a potential launch market.
However, cultural sensitivity in branding goes a lot deeper than merely checking translations, playing into how different cultures respond to advertising and to pharmaceutical companies, as well as a whole host of other cultural factors. Brand managers also have to display cultural sensitivity to international partners and employees, understanding that different cultures sometimes approach work and business differently.
12. A cool head under pressure.
Because yes, you’re going to face pressure as a brand manager- whether because a campaign has not delivered the expected ROI or because the press is clamouring for a response on a story. In times of crisis or in triumph, a good brand manager must have the composure to work through strong emotion and arrive at positive solutions.
Being a great brand manager for a life science company is a challenge, but it is one that you can rise to and enjoy great success.