Inspiration can be found in many unusual places. For the founders of Branding Science that might just have been in the bottom of a glass. The company which has just won a Queen’s Award for international trade was born in 2002 in a Yorkshire pub close to the M1.
Over a few foaming ales, Peter Cunningham, his brother-in-law and his best friend mapped out a plan for a business that this year celebrates 20 years of trading during which many clients across the globe have been won, as well as a few gongs along the way.
Branding Science Group Ltd is an independent, UK headquartered, global insight led consultancy for the life science sector, helping Biotech and Pharma launch innovative therapies in Oncology, Rare Disease and Specialty Care. It often works with them early in the drug cycle to ensure the patient is at the heart of decision making, and it’s all underpinned by the company’s mantra: Insight, Strategy, Action.
Since the beginning the company has been doubling in size every three years. In the six-year period relating to this award, overseas sales have increased by 205 per cent representing 64 per cent of total sales. It works with the top 30 pharmaceutical companies worldwide and has 12 offices in 10 countries across Europe, North America and Asia. Staff numbers 150 people across the group.
Peter, who is chief executive, said: “We work out the best ways for pharma companies to connect with patients and doctors to persuade them to move to new and better treatments.
“But we go beyond just doing market research. We created a consultancy to help clients help themselves change. We interview doctors and patients using behavourial scientists, psychologists and psychiatrists to listen to the human drama that is life and habit and then we work out how we are going to change that positively.
“The special bit is that our consultancy team informs on which are the habits in a client organisation that need to change to leverage that big insight. That’s the magic, because you have insight, strategy and action with more people in the client company involved in the journey of discovery of who their customer is and what they really need, not necessarily what they want.”
Branding Science’s own journey has been rapid. In 2005 it created a consultancy to help clients create their own strategies and starting from 2009 it opened its first overseas offices in Manila and San Francisco to cover Asia and America and then it “really started to motor”.
In 2011, the group expanded with the creation of a specialist field team which finds doctors and patients and payers to be interviewed by the company’s research team, and in the last decade Research, Consultancy and Field have grown alongside each other.
It has paid dividends, as Peter said: “Find the right people, ask the right questions in the right way to get the right answers and engender the right change – and that change is in the pharma company itself.”
As challenging as Covid-19 was, Branding Science still managed tremendous revenue growth, 27 per cent in 2020 and 20 per cent in 2021. Meanwhile, this Queen’s Award is not its first truly significant award either – in 2019 it won UK Best (small) Workplace for Women, and the following year went one better picking up UK Best Place to Work.
It almost goes without asking what this latest award will mean to Peter. He said: “Not only will it help us grow our consultancy team and expand in Asia and South America, but it will also further boost our fantastic team’s morale because it is recognised that we are doing well.
“We never want to look at the past, but it’s good to have markers to show that you are going in the right direction and we are really excited about our next few years.”
Two decades on the song remains the same for Peter and his ever-burgeoning team: “We still really want to shift the needle and make a difference, because in the pharma industry their ultimate goal is to help people live longer or suffer less and so influencing that positively is worth getting up in the morning for.”
We can all raise a glass to that!