There is more pressure than ever on companies to extract value from every element of pipeline and inline portfolios, but, at the same time, differentiation is ever harder to achieve, with diminished Ďwhite spaceí around which to develop the proposition for a brand. With the battle for brand stand-out so hard won, a different approach and mindset is required in terms of how we approach the development of brands.
The early pharma brand often finds itself in the position of being overexposed, yet underdeveloped, for a large part, due to concerns with the risk of pipeline attrition. However, what of the missed opportunities in early-stage branding?
In crowded and cluttered therapy areas, early-stage branding can be leveraged to create clarity and understanding, to help shape and condition the market, providing a platform for building a relationship with key target audiences.
Establishing equity in a brand name, rather than a code name, taking ownership of what is unique and differentiating in a compound through supportive nomenclature, such as class names, are just some examples of the critical means by which a company can begin to build awareness and generate initial interest and pull. If a compound is in the privileged position of revolutionising a treatment category, of being first in a new class, taking ownership of the way in which that compound is talked about, enables a company to fight the marketing battle on its own terms.
Whilst companies will always be concerned about the risk of pipeline attrition, there will always be a trade-off against the concomitant risk of missed opportunities, which may not be regained in that crucial lead-up to launch.
Rebecca Robins, Interbrand Wood Healthcare - May 3, 2005
I feel that branding (at the consumer end) is over-emphasised in this industry. Agreed that branding has a part to play and most definitely helps, but if the efforts are concentrated in wooing the end user, I think the returns would be very low.
You have to accumulate a critical mass of consumers first. Consumers who trust your brand because they have used it over the years very successfully. Only such brands can think about getting to the consumers. The others will have to concentrate on the decision makers; i.e., the doctors to help them reach the consumer so that along with the usage comes the trust hence loyalty.
Aditya - May 3, 2005
This whole discussion is ridiculous. I cringe everytime I hear a pharma product manager or ad agency discussing pharma brands. THEY DO NOT EXIST IN PHARMA.
The current branding model has a demonstrated negative financial impact on pharma revenues, and certainly does not provide the basis for clinically relevant positioning. Pharma branding when put under the microscope of academic scrunity is a creative rather than a strategic or financial exercise. Now that the traditional pharma model of being 1 of 4 companies selling water in the desert (niche marketing) no longer exists, the ineffectiveness of pharma branding will come to the forefront.
David Delong, Pres, The Customer Management Group - May 9, 2005
Sure pharma companies can create leverage by becoming a well known brand... the question is should they? We the consumers rely on these companies to provide a service and in becoming a well known brand will they feel that it is their right to charge more for generics simply because they have a brand name behind them? As far as I'm concerned they play a role in society and providing them with strong brand leverage is not making the situation better for the people that matter in this industry-the consumer.
Gina, marketing student, U.J. - May 11, 2005
If a pharmaceutical company starts the branding process in Phase I or Phase II, it interferes with the development and (one hopes) true motivation of developing a drug: To save lives. Branding is a 'frivolous' afterthought, if you will, that should come at launch when it has no ability to affect outcome or the intent of developing the drug.
Branding is for the public and the marketers, not the scientists, to worry about.