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

Building brand strength – Part 4

Commitment, responsiveness and protection – how far will Big Pharma go to preserve its brands?

In our final instalment of our Brand Strength series, we take a look at the three remaining components: commitment, protection and last but not least, responsiveness. Each of these brand strength factors is an internal component that must exist in order to foster a culture of brand advocates. 

Having a well thought out brand that makes an impact is just as important for an organisation's internal audience as it is for its external audience. Let's take a closer look at these factors and how they relate to some of your champion brands.

Commitment: A measure of an organisation's internal commitment to or belief in its brand. Commitment is the extent to which the brand receives support in terms of time, influence and investment.

A great example of commitment is when an organisation offers training and invests in internal education and incentives for its people to become brand advocates, and improve their ability to 'live' the brand. The Iconic Brand Survey nomination that you gave us which we felt encapsulated this brand strength factor is one of the world's leaders in diabetes care, Novo Nordisk.

Novo Nordisk has a long history of employee engagement and, in 2003, launched Take Action, an employee programme designed to encourage and support employees to integrate the Novo Nordisk Way into everything it does. The initiative provides an opportunity to engage in voluntary activities and a forum for sharing best practices. All activities are developed and undertaken by Novo Nordisk employees during working hours insofar as they support the company's business objectives as well as cover social and/or environmental objectives in their local communities.

Protection: This component examines how secure a brand is across a number of dimensions – from legal protection and proprietary ingredients to design, scale or geographic spread.

As Big Pharma faced patent expirations on some of its most lucrative drugs, the industry found creative ways to land new patents, which presents the perfect example of companies incorporating protection into their business strategy.

As an example, Pfizer's patent for Norvasc was set to expire in September 2007. This blood pressure drug racked up nearly $5bn in 2006 sales. In the year after a drug patent expires, sales typically plunge 80 per cent as generic manufacturers produce competing, low-cost versions.

But Pfizer was unwilling to go down without a fight. They were able to protect Norvasc's patent by putting a new spin on its indication, combining it with Lipitor, the cholesterol-lowering drug that is also the industry's biggest seller, with nearly $13bn sales in 2006. The resulting combination drug, called Caduet, totaled $370m in 2006 sales, a figure that pales in comparison to the nearly $18bn in combined annual sales for Lipitor and Norvasc.

Responsiveness: This component looks at a brand's ability to adapt to market changes, challenges and opportunities. The brand should have a desire and ability to constantly evolve and renew itself.

When AstraZeneca's cholesterol-lowering statin, Crestor launched, Lipitor directly adapted to the market changes by evolving and repositioning its brand in Europe. With over $9bn in annual sales of Lipitor on the line, Pfizer found itself in a position where it had to demonstrate the qualities of responsiveness or else face the severe consequences. 

Pfizer took a hold of the challenges Crestor was presenting and repositioned its blockbuster brand by focusing on saving lives versus just stabilising plaque in arteries. Additionally, Lipitor created an individualised branding approach by launching the 'My Life. Your Decision' campaign targeted towards healthcare professionals. This allowed Lipitor to reverse the impact of Crestor.

Commitment, responsiveness and protection are three brand strength components that truly illustrate the power of a strong brand and the great lengths companies will go to in order to ensure that brand's success.

We hope you enjoyed finding out about InterbrandHealth's 10 components of brand strength. Your iconic brand nominations provided us with excellent examples for analysis as we tell our brand strength story. It is no surprise that these brands are top of mind when it comes to identifying iconic pharma brands, because they all incorporate the key factors of brand strength.

See the results of your nominations in the Iconic Brands Survey – what made the top 10?

Catch up with Parts 1, 2 and 3 of the Building Brand Strength series

Article by
Karen Choueiri

associate director, analytics team, InterbrandHealth

14th February 2013

From: Marketing



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