Can You Brand Trust? - Pharmaceutical Executive


Can You Brand Trust?
Lack of trust is preventing pharma from doing what it does better than any other entity on the globe: research and develop new cures and treatments, says Billy Tauzin, president of PhRMA. What to do about it? Twelve top brandmeisters weigh in.

Guide to Branding

This type of thinking has companies scurrying to change their institutionalized business practices. Just look at McDonald's, which is actively investing in both com-municating and demonstrating a commitment to their customers' health by offering health-conscious food options. Regardless of the menu choice the customer makes, McDonald's is working to demonstrate its genuine concern both in words and in actions.

In today's environment of rampant mistrust of corporations, companies must increasingly choose to act on behalf of customers and get the word out about their corporate deeds. Customers need to see and hear corporations making choices that put the health and safety of customers first.

On the advertising and promotion end of the branding continuum, this issue translates into an important question: How should a company present itself to build trust? Here are three areas of impact to consider and questions to ask:

  • CONTENT When promoting your product, have you provided fair and balanced information for your customers? A brand excessively focused on a one-sided presentation risks compromising credibility and damaging trust.
  • TONE How does your brand speak? Authenticity and transparency are essential in developing lasting, recurring relationships with your brand or company.
  • CREATIVE Many brands are visually designed to be showy or to stand out by using the brightest and boldest color options possible. Customers may be put off by the hey-look-at-me attitude of many brands.

So, when presenting your company or brand to the world, trust can be achieved by consciously choosing to act with the best interest of your customers as your guide.

Forrest King is managing partner at JUICE Pharma Advertising. He can be reached at


By Jay Carter

Jay Carter
AMERICANS trust pharma brands. Let's get that out of the way right now.

Valium has been generic most of my professional career in healthcare advertising, and even though pharmacists fill their customers' prescriptions with generic diazepam, people trust the brand. The Ventolin inhaler is a trusted icon, so common that it is used regularly in teen movies to communicate who the nerd is. Likewise, they trust the Purple Pill. And although they may smirk, people trust the Little Blue Pill too.

Americans don't trust pharmaceutical companies. Worse, they don't trust the FDA to protect them from pharmaceutical companies. That's the problem that we as an industry need to worry about.

The FDA's imprimatur used to lend a brand that gave drugs the perception of efficacy and safety. That's less true today, which means that marketers must work harder to communicate safety.


For a select few brands that have the broad appeal to be blockbusters, branding is all about creating a persona that accurately yet positively communicates the efficacy and safety of the brand.

It's also essential not to overpromise, to answer questions before they're asked, and always to be approachable. Communication channels like DTC and the Internet make these requisites much more possible today than they were when Valium launched, so marketers now have a big advantage in caring for their mega-brands.


For the marketers of non-blockbuster products, branding is about giving the product a personality that is transparent. Marketers are advocates for the brand. We communicate the advantages, and we help healthcare providers and patients understand the potential negatives—not by hiding the negatives, but by spotlighting them clearly and in context. When Johnny Cochran had trouble with the gloves, he didn't shirk, he confronted the issue head on.


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Source: Guide to Branding,
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