It's not who we are, but what we make that matters." That seems to be the motto of most pharma manufacturers, whose promotional priority is clearly product over corporation. On the surface, such an attitude makes sense. Sick patients don't care where their drugs come from—they just want something that works. Physicians, too, are focused on products and therapeutic results. A study recently conducted by DeLor showed that doctors had excellent awareness of a line of anesthesia products but little awareness of the company that made them—even though the manufacturer claimed to be the leader in that franchise.
Products are certainly the lifeblood of any pharma company. But with their limited life span and the industry's current pipeline crisis, the corporate brand is more important than ever before in providing companies a competitive advantage.
Consider these facts:
- Investors can't find Lipitor (atorvastatin) or Viagra (sildenafil) on the New York Stock Exchange; they must invest in Pfizer and buy the whole package.
- Studies show that one-third of current shareholder value is affected by the brand.
- Physicians' loyalty to a pharma company affects the prescribing volume of all the company's drugs, according to a recent study conducted by the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.
- As gene-tailored medicine becomes reality and patients must communicate personal information to companies, generating consumers' trust will become increasingly important.
Many pharma marketers are missing opportunities to leverage the corporate brand. This article shows how corporate branding can be used to build momentum for the product, fuel sales, and establish a lasting point of differentiation.
Where did the corporate brand go? Pfizer used its logo on Caduets pre-launch materials to create a relationship between the company, the therapeutic area, and the product. However, the corporate brand was dropped after product launch, causing the company to lose the connection it established with its early investment.
In clinical development, the reputation of the pharma company—its brand—drives much of the attention the product receives. Clinicians and patients are more likely to participate in trials run by companies perceived to have good safety records. Thought leaders are easier to recruit in therapeutic areas in which a company has established its expertise. Physicians will take more time to listen to medical science liaisons from companies they "like." Pre-approval public relations is easier, too. Journalists are more likely to cover developmental products from reputable pharmaceutical companies.
A safety record, expertise, professionalism, and reputation are all elements of a corporate brand. As such, pharma companies can actively manage consumers' and physicians' perceptions of those elements to prepare the market for a drug long before its launch.