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

Building brand strength – Part 2

The Iconic Brands series to help you create your brand's unique DNA

Brand strength is a diagnostic tool that Interbrand has pioneered to measure brand performance and better understand the reasons behind a brand's strengths and weaknesses – internally and externally. Brand strength measures the ability of a brand to create loyalty and keep generating demand and profit into the future. 

The 10 principles of brand strength comprehensively assess all aspects of a brand, enabling an holistic and accurate way of understanding and evaluating its power. Performance is judged on these factors relative to other brands in the industry, and relative to other world-class brands. Brand strength supports strategic brand management by prioritising areas of highest impact for managers – and highlighting areas for improvement.

In part one of this series, we looked at the role of authenticity. This time we focus on three more brand strength factors – the role of relevance, differentiation and consistency  – and how they relate to some of your nominations in the Iconic Brands Survey.

Relevance: This component estimates how well a brand fits with customer needs, desires and decision criteria across all appropriate demographics and geographies.

In the Iconic Brands Survey, one of the brands that you identified as iconic is BAND-AID, a brand that represents relevance extremely well. The product was first developed in 1920 and over the years has become both a household name as a brand and used as a generic noun. In recent years, BAND-AID has evolved its relevance, creating demand among new segments such as kids and sport with the development of new products and services, while still maintaining relevance with its original audiences and remaining true to its well-established brand equities.

Brands that remain relevant continuously rethink their product and service offerings in a constantly evolving marketplace, both to fulfill demand and generate need. Organisations committed to gaining a deep understanding of their customers and incorporating this knowledge into all aspects of the business will be able to orientate themselves better towards developing their brands in further, relevant ways.

Differentiation: This is the degree to which customers perceive the brand to have a positioning that is distinct from the competition.

You nominated Bayer as an iconic brand and we believe Bayer has excelled in differentiating itself from the competition. Chemical tests of different Aspirin brands indicate that most are virtually identical. Indeed, the judge in the Federal Trade Commission's case against the manufacturers of Bayer Aspirin, who claimed that Bayer was the best Aspirin (being faster and gentler), concluded that Bayer's was neither qualitatively nor therapeutically superior. 

Although there are more than 400 generic brands of Aspirin, Bayer's is the best selling, despite its premium price. Integral to success has been the relentless emphasis placed on technological innovations to improve the Aspirin product: reducing side effects, increasing effectiveness for specific treatments, facilitating dosage and addressing new indications for heart attack prevention.

Consistency: This measures the degree to which brand is experienced by audiences across all touch points and formats in the same way. 

We looked at the components that illustrate how brands connect with their external audiences and maintain that connection, making sure that brand experience is in line with brand values and messages; all the while setting itself apart from the competition.  

The brand you nominated that we consider to have the most consistency is Rocephin. Rocephin (ceftriaxone sodium) is marketed by Hoffman-La Roche and often used for the treatment of pneumonia and bacterial meningitis. Although off patent for quite some time, Rocephin really broke ground in the pharmaceutical space by developing a clear 'apple' icon that served as a consistent proxy for the brand for many years, across different therapeutic indications. 

Although the 'apple a day' connotations would seem a bit functional by today's standards, Rocephin maintained a clear, consistent, and compelling promise that rarely strayed from its core story which helped to take the image of an apple and turn it into 'the Rocephin apple'. This deliberate strategy to keep the apple as its icon ultimately gave the brand freedom to flex and stretch while constantly reminding its customers of the promise upon which it was founded and launched. 

Consistent brands deliver their brand's commitment at every touch point and ensure that the brand experience is always in line with their positioning. Rocephin was extremely successful at doing just that.

In our next article, we will take a look at a few more of components of an outstanding brand and how your iconic brand nominations measure up. 

Also, stay tuned as we reveal the Iconic Brands Survey league table in the next few weeks.

Melody Wolff
The Author
Melody Wolff is marketing manager at InterbrandHealth

Article by
Melody Wolff

Marketing Manager at InterbrandHealth

7th January 2013

From: Marketing



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