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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Dissecting the anatomy of your brand

Build a sustainable – and profitable – future for an established brand. The basics of brand development will put you on the right tracks…

A key principle in marketing is to build sustainable and profitable products and services to meet customer needs, while providing shareholder value. From a pharmaceutical perspective, ensuring a profitable and sustainable future for an established product or brand is a real challenge when faced with the threat of generic substitution in an increasingly demanding and financially austere health system.

The words from Kevin Roberts, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide, are especially germane, “For anyone in business, the rapid cycling of their valued products into generic commodity is a dark and constant fear.”

With a rally cry from Harvard Business Review - 'The Mismanagement of Brand Equity' - Alvin Achenbaum advises: “What distinguishes a brand from its unbranded commodity counterpart, and gives it equity, is the sum total of consumers' perceptions and feelings about the product's attributes and how they perform, about the brand name and what it stands for, and about the company associated with the brand”.

Salvation then, could come by developing or enhancing 'the brand'.

Much has been written about brand and brand creation, yet the concept seems somewhat elusive within the confines of B2B marketing, particularly as it relates to prescription pharmaceuticals. I have a theory that part of the problem may arise by the manner in which pharmaceuticals are developed (research-led) resulting in a sales effort that is more akin to that of a product-oriented manufacturer, as opposed to an entirely marketing-focused organisation, developing products and services aligned to customer need.

Nevertheless, it is still possible to create and develop equity around an existing product by analysing and then augmenting the product anatomy. A good start is to return to basics.

A product is a 'physical good, service, idea, person or place that is capable of offering both tangible and intangible attributes that will satisfy customer wants and needs'. A product therefore, is made up of several manifestations, including those relating both to rational judgement and emotional feelings, a key element in B2C marketing, as emotional pathways bypass the cognitive functions of rational judgement leading to direct action. In other words, impulsive behaviour.

A challenge for the pharmaceutical marketer however, is that the product itself is rarely seen or handled by the prescriber (customer), limiting both physical and emotional involvement. Nevertheless, positive patient outcomes can in themselves bring about emotional reward such as self-esteem, professionalism and confidence – creating positive emotional triggers and associations.

Enhancing the product's appeal is possible by extending brand equity by introducing or reinforcing additional 'value chain' elements that surround the product core benefit, expressed as the anatomy of the product (see below).

Anatomy of the product: the 'value chain' elements surrounding the product's core



Core product
Represents the reason for its existence and purchase/use. The core benefit may be functional or psychological and its definition must enable the marketer to develop a differential advantage that will appeal to a particular market segment and audience.

Tangible product
These are the physical elements that deliver the core benefit, but will include visual and tactile stimuli that generate emotional appeal, such as design, colour and aroma.

Augmented product
Here is the opportunity to align additional benefits with customer wants and needs.

This might include enhanced services, such as patient-support or disease-awareness programmes, or useful tools, such as mobile apps. These activities all present opportunities to enhance brand equity by introducing experiences to promote customer involvement.

Potential product

This layer acknowledges the dynamic and strategic nature of the product and the reason for customer emotional commitment and loyalty over time, and might include the promise of line extensions and new formulations, or even a new positioning.

To conclude, once again as highlighted by Achenbaum, brand equity is the sum of the total package of experiences and associations. Reviewing and developing the product anatomy enables the marketer to introduce opportunities and enhancements, including organisational offerings (such as customer service, etc) thereby demonstrating commitment to your customer and helping to foster enduring relationships.

Now go to Anatomy of your brand in Smart thinking/Instant experts for the five key steps that will get your brand off the ground…

Article by
Kevin McGetrick

creative brand consultant.
He can be contacted at

13th April 2012


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