Culture as a Catalyst: Redefining the Heartbeat of Life Science Brands from the Inside Out

Life Science Brands

Written by Gina Dunn

Gina is an accomplished marketing director with a long history of building and guiding brands in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and clinical research industries.

August 31, 2023

A 3-part series called Communications in Life Science Marketing: It’s Not Just What We Say, But Also How We Act and Think.

Welcome to the second article in my series, are you familiar with the phrase, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”? This famous statement by Peter Drucker, a renowned management consultant, rings especially true in the life sciences marketing landscape.

In today’s hyper-competitive market, strategy alone is no longer the sole determinant of success. Instead, the internal culture of your organization – the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize your team and define its practices – is taking center stage.

A Paradigm Shift in Life Science Marketing


Brand Culture

In an era of rapid digital transformation and rising customer expectations, the life science sector stands at a unique crossroads. The old ways of marketing—focused only on promoting products or services—are no longer good enough or authentic in the public’s eyes.

Today, the most successful life science brands are those that go far beyond the transactional and invest in creating an authentic, values-driven brand culture.

But what does it mean to create a ‘brand culture’? How can life science companies cultivate a culture that not only resonates with their brand values but also propels business success forward? As a seasoned life science marketing consultant, I’ve had the privilege of guiding numerous life science brands on this journey. In this second article in my communications series, we’ll discover the concept of brand culture, its pivotal role in life science marketing, and how you can effectively nurture that brand culture within your organization.

Brand Culture: The DNA of Life Science Marketing

Life Science Marketing

As with a biological cell, the culture within an organization is effectively like its DNA. It dictates how we behave, how we make decisions, and how we connect with our stakeholders—internally and externally. In life science marketing, brand culture is not an abstract or peripheral concept. It’s the core of our brand identity—the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that differentiate us and guide our every action.

Given our unique context, brand culture in the life science sector is particularly significant. We operate in a highly regulated, constantly evolving industry where trust, transparency, and patient-centricity are not just buzzwords but imperatives.

Cultivating a strong brand culture is not merely about ‘doing good marketing.’ It’s really about building a sustainable, resilient brand that can navigate these complexities and create lasting value in the world.

Distilling the Difference: Brand Values vs Brand Culture

As we embark on the journey of understanding brand culture, it is crucial to differentiate between the two foundational terms: brand values and brand culture. While they are intertwined, they are not the same.

Brand values are like your compass—they represent the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide a brand’s actions and decisions. They answer the question, “What do we stand for?” In life sciences, brand values may revolve around innovation, patient-centricity, integrity, or scientific excellence. (read more about this in the first article of my series here).

On the other hand, brand culture is the embodiment of these values. It is the personality and character of the brand, answering the question, “Who are we?” It’s how the values are lived out daily in the organization’s actions and behaviors, and it’s perceptible not just internally among employees but also externally to clients, partners, and the public.

Picture brand values as the blueprint of a building, denoting what it should look like and how it should function. In contrast, brand culture is the building itself, constructed and constantly shaped according to that blueprint. It is more dynamic, changing, and evolving in tandem with the brand’s growth and the industry’s shifts.

In essence, brand values are the philosophical foundation, while brand culture is the practical expression of these values in the brand’s daily life.

Constructing the Cultural Pillars of Life Science Brands

Life Science Marketing

To build a strong and authentic brand, life science companies must not only define their brand values but also aim to develop a brand culture that truly reflects these values. This harmonious balance is where the real brand magic happens.

Building a strong brand culture is like constructing a sturdy building—it requires a solid foundation, a carefully designed structure, and quality materials. The foundation is your brand values and purpose—clearly defined, strongly articulated, and deeply understood by everyone within the organization.

However, values and purpose alone are not enough. We must ensure these values are embodied by every member of our organization, reflected in every decision we make, and demonstrated in our everyday behaviors.
That’s where employee engagement comes into play. When employees are engaged and feel a sense of ownership and alignment with the brand’s values, they become brand ambassadors, contributing significantly to the strength of the brand culture.

Communication, particularly internal communication, serves as the lifeblood of brand culture. It ensures that the brand’s values and purpose are consistently reinforced, understood, and lived by everyone.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the endorsement and role modeling from leadership, setting the tone for the entire organization.

Cultivating the Culture Garden: Strategies for Success

Cultivating a strong brand culture is not a one-off project—it’s a continuous, evolving process that requires strategic planning, consistent effort, and patience.

Here are some suggestions to get started with your brand culture.

Cultivating the Culture Garden Strategies for Success

Effective Communication of the Brand’s Values and Purpose

  • Consistency is key
  • Promote dialogue, not just monologue
  • Encourage feedback, suggestions, and discussion
  • Utilize various communication channels:
    • Company meetings
    • Newsletters
    • Social media
    • One-to-one discussions

Fostering an Environment of Engagement and Inclusivity

  • Build an inclusive environment
  • Prioritize every voice, opinion, and idea
  • Promote cross-functional collaboration
  • Encourage knowledge sharing

Leadership Commitment and Consistency

  • Leadership embodies brand values
  • Values reflected in decisions, actions, and communications
  • Consistent commitment to culture
  • Crucial during challenges and change
  • Sets an example for the team

Ongoing Training and Development Programs

  • Integrate brand values into training
  • Include in onboarding processes
  • Embed in training modules and workshops
  • Foster alignment with brand values
  • Equip teams with knowledge and skills to embody values

Building a strong brand culture is a continuous journey, not a destination. It requires constant nurturing, updating, and evolving.

Conquering Culture Hurdles: Challenges and Solutions

Life Science Marketing

Challenges in building a strong brand culture can be overcome with strategy, leadership, and commitment. Let’s take a look.

Lack of Clarity or Consensus on Brand Values

If your brand values seem like abstract concepts that are open to multiple interpretations, you might have a challenge on your hands. Without clear and agreed-upon values, it can be like trying to steer a ship without a compass.

Solution? Hold thorough discussions to define and align clear values with your team.

Resistance to Change

Change can be unsettling, and developing a new brand culture often involves change. You might encounter resistance, skepticism, or just inertia in general.

Solution? Change is a process, not an event. Be patient, persistent, and communicate clearly. Involve employees to reduce resistance.

Disconnection between Leadership and Team

Sometimes, there can be a disconnect between the leadership team and the rest of the organization. If the leadership team does not embody the brand values or if their actions don’t align with the stated values, it can lead to a culture gap.

Solution? Leaders must embody values, include them in decisions, and have feedback sessions for correction.

Inconsistent Communication

Inconsistent or unclear communication can lead to confusion, diluting the brand culture you’re trying to build.

Solution? Maintain regular, clear, and consistent communication at all levels using various channels. Reinforce brand values and cultural principles frequently.

From the Inside Out: The External Impact of a Strong Brand Culture

Internal Culture and Brand Perception: A robust internal culture goes beyond fostering a positive work environment; it significantly influences how your brand is perceived externally. It shapes product quality, customer service, and your brand’s overall reputation, ultimately driving customer satisfaction, loyalty, and business success.

Alignment is Key: Imagine your brand as a well-polished exterior – a striking logo, a compelling website, and captivating marketing messages. However, if there’s a disconnect between this external image and your internal culture, your audience will notice, potentially undermining your brand’s authenticity.

Internal Culture’s Impact: Your internal culture essentially becomes your external brand personality. It ensures consistency in your brand’s voice, tone, and actions across all customer interactions. An engaged internal culture can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, as motivated teams tend to provide superior service.

Building Trust and Credibility: In industries like life sciences, trust and credibility are paramount. A strong brand culture guides actions, decisions, and interactions, enhancing your brand’s reputation. In conclusion, a robust internal culture shapes your brand’s external perception, building an authentic, consistent, and trustworthy brand image that resonates with your audience and advances your business goals.

Your Next Step

It should be clear by now that brand culture is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ in life science marketing—it’s an imperative. It’s a key differentiator, a driver of business success, and a beacon that guides our interactions, decisions, and behaviors.

Now, the question is: What’s your brand culture like? Are you merely preaching your brand values, or are you truly living them?

Consider your brand’s culture. Reflect on how it could be further strengthened to resonate with your values and vision. Remember, every journey begins with a single step. Take that step today. Start nurturing a brand culture that not only strengthens your brand’s image but also drives business success.

Need help?

We’re here to assist if you’re ready to take the next step in nurturing a strong and authentic brand culture within your life science organization. With our extensive experience in life science marketing and a deep understanding of the industry’s unique challenges, we can help you transform your brand values into a living, breathing culture that resonates internally and externally. Contact us today to start the journey towards a brand culture that strengthens your image and drives lasting business success.


Schedule a call today

Gina Dunn

Gina Dunn

Director of Marketing

With over 25 years of marketing experience, Gina Dunn is a goal-driven marketing and brand strategist known for her infectious energy and ability to deliver tangible results in the life science industry. People describe her as positive, full of energy, and dedicated to driving success. As the Director of Marketing at Seuss+, Gina’s dynamic approach and unwavering focus on achieving goals empower organizations to thrive through strategic branding and communication.

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