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Smart Thinking blog

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

Making a Name for Yourself

In an overcrowded, generic-led world, it could well be time to put more emphasis on your corporate branding. Find out why...

Although most brand managers aspire to build a true brand, very few pharmaceutical products achieve this status. While Prozac and Viagra became everyday words in our vocabulary and even made it into the dictionary, they are in a minority.

So why did they succeed where other brands have not? Simply put, a brand is more than a logo, strap-line or list of key messages. As an industry we are too obsessed with these details. A rational brand justification will not sell a brand – we need to see the bigger picture. 

It is crunch time for pharma as patents expire on some of the game-changing brands that have fuelled our industry for the past years. In addition many companies are struggling with multiple changes from mergers and acquisitions; a focus on emerging markets; downsizing; service and solution-based offerings, and investment in their own generics' business.

These myriad of changes beg the question – is the traditional focus on product brands becoming less relevant, and should we instead invest more in the corporate brand?

The traditional risk-mitigating approach of keeping corporate and product brands separate is now proven to be fruitless – our digitised, transparent world has certainly put an end to this. Instead we should embrace product and corporate brands together, in a way that capitalises on their strengths.

Payers, providers and patients are all receptive to the corporate brand, so pharma should use it to help deliver greater demand, loyalty and purchasing power. What values are stronger than credibility, quality and reliability when it comes to purchasing and providing generics? And as part of any corporate brand strategy, companies should be identifying customer drivers and needs and fulfilling these by delivering services and support programmes as part of the overall value offering – but this is the minimum effort, and certainly not the only aspect of corporate brand investment.

Of course, while some companies lose their patents, other companies will benefit, specifically manufacturers of biosimilars – the larger, more complex molecules. But the question for these companies is can their products be trusted to be as safe and effective as the originators?

Unique manufacturing technologies and delivery formats can be met with scepticism rather than openness, and while biosimilars will undoubtedly be cheaper, the differential will not be as large as that seen with small molecule generics, meaning price alone will not drive this market.

The corporate brand will undoubtedly be important for these companies and a means to establish their presence as manufacturers of high-quality products.

When created and managed properly, brands are highly valuable business assets that should live and breathe across all touch points. If our true goal is to influence behaviour and decision-making, then brands at their best have the power to act as short-circuits for decision making – they can make the 'oh-so complicated' much, much simpler.

In an overcrowded, generic-led world, the corporate brand could provide the differentiation required to succeed.

Article by
Julia Straker

head of strategic planning at PAN

8th August 2012

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