What Type of Brand Are You? - Pharmaceutical Executive


What Type of Brand Are You?
Stop the aimless soul searching. The path to brand success lies in understanding how best to position your drug.

Pharmaceutical Executive

BROKER UNITY AMONG KEY CONSTITUENTS Make your audience feel optimistic and reassure them by making the community of customers partners in how you enhance their success.

ACTIVATE THE COMMUNITY ON YOUR BEHALF Solicit endorsement and advocacy from third parties and disease-treatment groups—it builds a collective momentum for your brand's success.

HOST THE PARTY Never lose sight of the fact that your brand's success depends upon the success of all involved—generosity, subsidy, and humility will maintain customer loyalty. Avoid staging events or initiatives alone; invite your partners to participate in various aspects of research and outreach.

Franchise Brands

Today, the industry is witnessing an increase in the number of platform drugs—also called Franchise Brands. Here, pharma marketers can take a lesson from Virgin, which has extended the "halo" of its brand from one product to another.

Turbo Brands

Some drugs' efficacy can be enhanced by making it part of a drug cocktail. Marketers of Turbo Brands should position them in such a way that shows how they enhance the overall success of another product. NutraSweet is just one example of a successful Turbo Brand.

Gaining Consensus

There's no right or wrong answer to this branding exercise. Rather, the value of it is to build consensus so the team agrees how best to proceed. Key factors that help to guide these decisions are proximity of competitors entering the market; the company's size, resources, and culture; and other brands in the portfolio or pipeline.

For example, let's say a small company with limited resources is launching Karalyn. The brand team may want to avoid the costly—but often lucrative—investment of building an unknown disease category as a Creation Brand, and opt to be an Evolution Brand for arthritis. In this case, the team's rationale would be to focus resources on brand, not category, building. Or, say Karalyn has a close competitor from Big Pharma that is neck-and-neck in pursuing the RA indication. Karalyn must weight its true advantage against the competition: Is it a significant improvement over both existing and new competitors to warrant an Evolutionary Brand approach? Or is it similar enough to justify creating an Opportunistic Brand and select a specific sub-segment or media venue to attempt to outflank the rival giant?

It's important to recognize that this prospective archetyping system is a tool that helps provide near-term action in the context of long-term aspirations. It is not only possible, but also likely, that brands that begin in one diagnostic category may end up moving to another. For example, Karalyn may focus on being a Creation Brand, and then years later—after competition enters the market—opt to behave like an Opportunistic Brand.

When is the right time to re-evaluate the brand category? Unlike the American Idol model, there is no single prescribed answer. However, marketers should revisit an archetyping workshop in response to significant changes in the market, such as a current market failure or removal, a new competitor or indication, or even cultural shifts in society. The benefit of such a system creates a definitive and defensible action plan for a brand, yet anticipates that the plan must change. Thus, understanding the archetypes of brands, and how they relate with one another, emphasizes the importance of agile brand marketing over adherence to a rigid benchmarking model.

Vince Parry is president of Y Brand and chief branding officer for inVentiv Communications. He can be reached at


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