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Smart Thinking blog

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

Building brand strength – Part 1

While we analyse the full results of the Iconic Brands Survey, we kick off with the first in our series looking at the hot buttons that will drive the pharma brands of today and tomorrow…

In the run up to the release of the Iconic Brands Survey league table, what can we learn from your nominations? What do the brands that you consider to be remarkable during the last two decades of pharma tell us? Which elements of brand development still apply now and which will hold you in better stead for the future?

We have seen products such as Viagra, Prilosec and Lipitor along with some corporate names (eg, Eli Lily, Pfizer and Merck) nominated in our Iconic Brands survey. Product or corporate brand, each has strategically positioned itself in ways that have led to its success and thereby establishing its place in the healthcare market. 

Brands such as these are able to create a preference, demand a premium and drive loyalty. Doing so in the turbulent healthcare marketplace, whichever the decade, is no easy feat. 

Each year, Interbrand produces an annual Best Global Brands report, compiled using proprietary brand valuation methodology, which is comprised of three components: 

  • Financial forecast – which looks at current and future earnings that can be attributed to the brand
  • Role of brand – determining the role that brand plays in driving decisions
  • Brand strength – measuring how a brand is performing relative to its competitors.

If we look at, brand strength, we know that this is a strong indicator of future financial performance and risk; essentially; the stronger the brand the lower the risk. Over coming weeks we will dive into each of the constituents of brand strength and look at just how essential each is to the brands that you and your peers have nominated as 'iconic' – and crucially, how these constituents apply to your current thinking.

The first factor we are going to explore is authenticity. Authenticity looks at the brand as being soundly based on an internal truth and capability. An authentic brand has a defined heritage and a well-grounded value set. It can deliver against the high expectations that customers have of it. 

When evaluating the authenticity of a brand, we examine the extent to which the brand is seen as credible and genuine. We also look at whether the brand's heritage and history are being maintained over time. Does the company or product deliver on its promise; do stakeholders trust what the company or product says; what is the brand's history, longevity and the story it delivers to the market?

Next time in this series, we take a look at another component of brand strength and how your iconic brand nominations measure up.

The role of corporate authenticity

However well any single product ticks the essential elements for its successful development, one factor outside the product's immediate remit, that of the corporate barometer, is becoming ever more pivotal – particularly with more direct to consumer activity and as consumers seek a more direct interface via social media, etc, with their 'healthcare provider'. 

So, in an industry where a dark cloud has been cast over industry giants, just how authentic can pharma companies really be? 

One pharma company that embodies authenticity is Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Having grown to be a Fortune 500 company that is consistently ranked, according to Barron's Magazine, as one of the world's most respected companies, it appears as one of Interbrand's top 100 global brands. 

While a more consumer-facing name than many pharma companies, as a corporate entity J&J ranks highly in terms of authenticity and we can learn much from their approach. With a repertoire of household, consumer product names, theirs is a credo continually challenging the organisation to put the needs and well-being of their customers first.

With over 90 product brands protected under the J&J name, the company has been very careful about how each of its individual brands should be represented. With such a wide range of products and services, ranging from vascular technology to baby soap, the J&J brand image is purposefully protected. 

Although the company has suffered from several product recalls and negative press in recent years, J&J's decision to link all of its product brands to its corporate name has helped the organisation retain its customers, and remain one of the world's most trusted brands – 200+ years after it was founded, and even during tough times.  

J&J is extremely proactive in mending its faults. Recently, J&J promised to be among the first to remove controversial chemicals from all its baby and adult products by 2015 and launched a website 'Safety is our Legacy' to share J&J's safety and care commitment. 

There are signs that other pharma companies are starting to increasingly identify the need to become more consumer conscious; to establish a level of corporate positioning that the industry has rarely comfortably embraced.

For more information on this topic and how InterbrandHealth can help build your brand please contact us for a chat

You may also find our white paper, Vital Times: The Changing Role of Brand within the Health & Life Sciences Industry, of interest.

Article by
Karen Choueiri

associate director, analytics team, InterbrandHealth

19th November 2012

From: Marketing



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