Branding CROs/CDMOs: Aragen, a case in point

Manni Kantipudi, CEO, Aragen emphasises that CRO businesses will have to take the next step forward in branding and marketing, including digital marketing and presents his company's efforts in this direction
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Branding, as a terminology, was mostly known in the B2C industry, where marketing was considered important to ensure good market shares through brand choices by consumers. It was assumed that price, rationality, and relationship were more important in the B2B industry, and hence there was no need for branding. However, in the recent past, branding is gaining importance and becoming a trend in the B2B industry too. Statistics showed that over the past five years, 86.7 per cent have seen an increase in spending on brand investments of their organisations.

Yet, who would imagine that a highly specialised service industry like a ‘Contract Research Organisation (CRO)/ Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO)’ that partners with the life sciences industries in discovery, development and manufacture would resort to branding too?

CRO as the B2B service provider for pharma

◆ The need to adopt the right branding and marketing strategies
The CRO industry, as we know, started to take shape in 1980-90s, when the emergence of a regulatory framework for the pharma market began. With drug discovery becoming a very expensive affair in years to come, increasing failures of drug candidates, and technology specialisation in every activity gaining rapidly, there was a natural expansion of then-existing contract research companies to offer multiple services in the drug discovery process.

Today, the CRO industry is quite fragmented, including more than 1000 organisations; and the global contract research market in 2021 is valued at around $53.2B and growing. Fro outsourcing 40-45 per cent of their activities to CROs, the pharma industry is expected to increase this to 60 per cent in the future, according to some reports. In such a growing and fragmented market, getting differentiation out and making the industry ‘notice’ the service brand and its purpose becomes critical to sourcing business.

Moreover, the world has become smaller, with outsourcing happening across geographies. The ability to look up for the right partner on the internet, study their activities, reviews from others add to the need to ensure that each CRO puts their best image forward through clearly defined brand values and purpose. And not just for the sake of image, but for the sake of demonstrating the added value that the company can bring to the market.

With a boom in life sciences, the emergence of novel biological targets, therapeutic modalities, and a whole new area of drug discovery, research programs have greater complexity and uncertainty. As a result, pharma companies are looking for the right partners with the necessary expertise, speed of delivery, technology and aligned with their purpose. Branding provides that opportunity to bring this to the table.

Aragen’s Branding brings life to the brand!

Aragen Life Sciences, formerly known as GVK Biosciences, is a trusted R&D and manufacturing partner to the global life sciences industry. Right from ‘concept to commercial’, Aragen helps transform ideas into solutions for better health.

Entering the 20th anniversary of the company, GVK Biosciences metamorphosised to Aragen Life Sciences, with a complete branding exercise to ensure that the company is well on track to consolidate its leading global CRO/CDMO position and be a market leader within a couple of years.

The rebranding of GVK Biosciences to Aragen was undertaken to ensure that company reflected a seamless amalgamation of the collaborative movement of partnerships to enable innumerable possibilities for better health.

The Brand Promise

During the exercise, the following key pointers were taken into account to arrive at the Brand Promise:
◆ Excellence Drivers
◆ Value Differentiators
◆ Brand Personality
◆ Brand Positioning
◆ Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP)

With Aragen, a new brand identity has been unveiled, an inspiring purpose, and a promise to customers: ‘Together Ahead’.

The new identity embodies the brand promise, Together Ahead.

Since trustworthy partnerships are at the core of a CRO/CDMO business, this brand promise is apt.

The logo and colour

The seamless amalgamation is perfectly indicated in the symbol of Aragen, ‘AURA’, which has a perfect blend of blue and orange colours that signifies possibilities of science for life and better health. The AURA bespoke its ambitious yet understated, resilient approach to serving its client while encompassing the agility within the organisation, a hallmark of the brand personality.

The colours evoke Aragen’s brand purpose, “In every molecule is the possibility for better health”. Deep blue conveys the possibilities of science, and vibrant orange symbolises life and better health.

The new mark now embodies the brand promise, Together Ahead. The seamless coming together of two forms and their collaborative movement represent partnerships that ignite better health possibilities.

With this renewed energy and focus on the strong employee base, Aragen Life Sciences stands strong to continue to serve its existing and new customers across the globe, with a promise to work with its partners and make them successful in the race for good health.

The renewed zeal and focused vision that Aragen achieved after rebranding as Aragen Life Sciences has enabled Aragen to share its long term collaborations with several global clients. One such example is the multi-year partnership with the leading crop science organisation FMC Corporation. The other client collaboration during 2021 include Skyhawk Therapeutics. In July 2021, Aragen Life Sciences collaborated with Skyhawk Therapeutics to develop novel small molecule therapeutics that target some of the words’ most intractable diseases. Aragen also expanded its partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim for integrated up-scaling of compounds for larger pre-clinical studies. The scope of work also includes Biology screening of appropriate chemical moieties to drive decision making with speed and accuracy is also included in the partnership.

In biologics, Aragen is advancing downstream and investing in a manufacturing facility in the US to offer a single seamless solution to customers who want to develop and manufacture in one place.

Aragen has over 3,000 employees, out of which over 2,800 are scientists which includes over 400 PhDs. The company is looking forward to hiring around 400 plus employees in 2021-22 to meet its growth plans.

This case goes to prove that B2B branding and marketing has come of age and does not entail any limitations if one has the will and the right approach.

With the world being one big marketplace and the internet being the window to this world, the drug discovery outsourcing CRO businesses will have to take the next step forward in branding and marketing, including digital marketing.

AragenAragen Life SciencesCRO businessesLife Sciences IndustryManni Kantipudi
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