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

Many people talk about the "potential for branding to save pharmaceutical companies from generics."

Rishad Tobaccowala of Publicus was recently quoted at the OPA Global Forum in London as saying, "I don't want a relationship with Tylenol. I just want my headache to go away."

Personally, I have a relationship with Tylenol—a positive one—but I buy generic acetaminophen because it makes my headache go away, and I'm not willing to pay the premium for Tylenol. My connection with the brand is not so profound that I wish to shell out the extra $2.98 for a bottle.


I think it is the industry's job to continue to innovate to find solutions for unmet healthcare needs. PhRMA's Web site says its members are "devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives." Doing that will command a price premium, because Americans are willing to pay more for better products.

Branding's job in the process is to increase the velocity of the sales curve so that profits can continue to enable our industry to meet the healthcare needs of humanity in the future. I don't want to live in a world where there isn't hope for a cure for cancer, for diabetes, or for MS. And it is our industry that gives the world that hope.

Jay Carter is senior vice president, director of client services at AbelsonTaylor. He can be reached at


By Carleen Kelly

Carleen Kelly
BUILDING a brand is becoming more important as companies try to differentiate themselves in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace.

Brand trust communicates expectations of how a brand performs and its reliability. Trust has to be earned over time and brand trust can be gained with time, based upon how the brand performs.

Lipitor, Prozac, and Nexium may provide brand trust for not only their brands and/or their manufacturers, but also for the industry. When safety issues with Celebrex, Vioxx, and Crestor emerged, however, the industry itself lost brand trust. With growing consumer skepticism, developing brand trust is becoming more important, yet is becoming more difficult.

For example, if the industry were to develop a huge educational program on the importance of taking your hypertensive medications, the current cynical sentiment likely would be that the industry was providing this education because it was interested in selling more drugs—not because it was concerned with preventing strokes and heart attacks.

Even when we provide fair balance at the end of DTC ads, consumers are often confused with the long list of side effects. They wonder what it means to them. Why should they see their physician about the product?

We have an opportunity to reverse this trend by using our extensive knowledge and resources to "appropriately" educate. We need the right messages. We also need to ensure the messages come from credible sources, sources consumers currently trust.

This will provide a halo for building trusted brands, including the pharmaceutical industry's brand.

Carleen Kelly is president of Surge Worldwide Healthcare Communications. She can be reached at


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Source: Guide to Branding,
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