How many brands are you managing? There may be another you need to consider.

Companies that have products to market often have dedicated brand managers. It’s immediately recognized that products represent brand opportunities. As a result, product brands get cultivated and managed – sometimes through comprehensive and disciplined processes designed to maximize brand experiences and, ultimately, establish the greatest value possible. Sometimes, however, there is another category of brands that gets neglected or deprioritized in the process. Sometimes intentionally. More, often not. Corporate brands can be overlooked or harnessed exclusively for investor relations or raising rounds of funding. While investor relations is an essential use of any corporate brand, it is only one of many substantial applications.

An important first step is to recognize that your company is in fact a brand. The same processes used to develop branding for products can and should be applied to crystalizing your corporate brand. This means taking an objective look at what makes your company different within the competitive landscape and why that matters to existing and prospective key constituents. It means having a vision for the company and a guiding set of values. And it means having a goal of how you want the company to be perceived in the market. In order for this to be more than perfunctory exercises or a one-time obligation, leadership must embrace the corporate branding initiative and understand its foundational role. Ultimately, there is a single, compelling factor to invest in corporate branding. Value. Corporate branding is about creating, sustaining and growing value for employees, customers, investors, shareholders and any other constituent that may interact and influence the brand. The most successful corporate brands are supported by teams who cultivate the brand on a continual basis. There is also a correlation between corporate brands being recognized and well understood, and the amount of energy that is exercised in communicating the corporate brand. Simply, sedentary brands do not succeed.

Another point to recognize is that today, more than ever before, the size of your company holds little significance when considering the need to brand. Often companies begin virtually, without brick and mortar, but with a revolutionary idea or novel technology. Corporate branding can help accelerate maturation, establish vital partnerships, attract and retain the right talent and deepen perceived and actual value. All of these issues matter, whether you are virtual or are an enterprise with a global presence.

In addition to investor relations and the raising of funds, corporate branding should be harnessed for a wide spectrum of communication needs.

Human resources and internal communications.

Use your corporate brand to properly message and then package your HR communications. Your corporate brand (and its tone) can be a powerful tool to attract high caliber talent. It can persuade the right people to want to join your organization and contribute to its success. Likewise, it can be critical to retaining and motivating employees. What’s essential here is making sure that your corporate brand is brought to life by acting on the brand promise. Words alone will not be effective. Further, missing the chance to have every employee serve as a brand champion on his or her own volition is an indication that the corporate branding initiative is ineffective or simply not being taken seriously.

Disease education and clinical trial awareness.

Your corporate brand should encompass communication specific to the diseases the company is targeting and the clinical trials it sponsors. Especially prior to product launch, but even continuing on post launch, you want to associate the company with the therapeutic areas you hope to influence. Disease education can be an effective and credible way to do this. What is the disease? What makes it challenging to treat? Why are current disease management or treatment approaches suboptimal? Clinical trial awareness can then further accentuate how investigational drugs can tackle challenges in novel ways. Clinical trial awareness can help professional and lay audiences understand that clinical work is underway and not far off in the future. It can provide hope where there may be little. It can cause practitioners to pay more attention to disease states if they know it may be treatable. And it can solidify the company’s role in the market with a core set of constituents.

Medical information and support services.

The role of medical information and medical science liaisons is indisputably essential. They can provide credible, compliant and non-promotional support to healthcare professionals, patients and care providers. As they are not able to have a voice within the treatment brand, the corporate brand provides a natural context for their communication. They have the potential to bring the corporate brand to life in a manner consistent with the overall vision and execute it with the highest degree of integrity. Support services can also be directly associated with the company. This represents the chance to bolster brand loyalty by demonstrating care and concern, and offering support that matters to patients and practices.

Your corporate brand should be an asset. It can help support product brands. It can help provide a framework for communication to employees, partners and prospects. It can be used to build a bond between the company and the people it serves. Like all branding opportunities, define yourself or risk being defined by others. Harness your corporate brand. Bring it to life. Use it as an invaluable resource every day. Loyalty, retention, and most importantly, value will all increase as a direct result.

by Jonathan D. Katz