How to Pitch a Medical Device Company #2: Listen to Your Contempt with the Familiar

Medical technology companies spend a lot of time and attention getting their brand right. Customers expect precise graphic elements to be paired with copy that strikes a positive, knowledgeable tone—the same set of expectations customers have of the medical technology they buy and use. But sometimes, the repetition of prearranged boxes, prescribed creative areas (for splashes of designer whimsey), and heads/subheads become too familiar. At that point, the sheer bulk of the branding guidelines resembles plaque in an artery. The monotony of prescribed repetition can stop the flow of creative blood and attack the muscle it was supposed to replenish.

Outsiders can enliven content

This moment of recognized calcification is best altered by the person with clout or vision (or both) who says, “Wait—can we start over with a blank page?” There may even be a courageous person who insists that a human will see the communication and that the brand could try to engage that human in new ways, versus assuming clinicians make all their choices using intellect and data. Clinicians have feelings, too, and sometimes they want to be wooed.

Realizing the need for a fresh perspective is where the opportunity begins. It’s hard to start over when you live inside an organization. The rules are made and enforced on the inside, and employees have been drinking the brand Kool-Aid for some time. The regulatory restrictions and legal waffle-words troll through your conversations even when talking with your five-year-old. (“Oliver, randomized studies correlate earlier bedtimes with general health and well-being. Many physicians would suggest you go to bed right now. OK?”). These are the times to get help from outside.

An advertising agency or design firm, or a smart outside voice, can help by looking at things very differently.

Be yourself and expect resistance

The point is not to get rid of the brand. Not at all. The processes and procedures the brand encapsulates are a solid investment (until they aren’t anymore). The point is to find new ways of engagement that float above the expected norms. Indeed, there will be internal resistance, and brand managers will fight.

But sometimes, it takes courage and a jolt to restart a tired old brand.


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