Brannon Cashion | Addison Whitney
Regulatory approval exists as the final hurdle to product launch – the final sign that this product, which has been studied, tested, researched, strategized – and yes, branded – is ready to find its place on the market. That it’s time for the preparation to pay dividends in making a difference in a patient’s life.
When submitting a product for approval with any of the global regulatory bodies, among the trial results and data, is the brand name. In the past, brand names were often an afterthought, created with an eye toward market. However, as the playing field for available trademarks gets smaller the need for increasingly unique names gets larger; brand name development is an area which must be a strategic focus.
As is the trend for most instances of industry evolution throughout the years, the driving force behind brand name development within the pharmaceutical space is increased awareness of the foundational knowledge behind what makes a brand name successful throughout the product life cycle has grown from its previous status of often existing as a sidebar to the product development process.
Looking at brand name development through the lens of meeting both commercial and regulatory end goals has driven an increased need for specialization. Pharmaceutical brand names walk a fine line, tasked with providing results in the marketplace while also keeping the wheels of approval turning. The underlying tactics have also shifted, unsurprisingly. Much of these tactics turn the focus on the behind-the-scenes work that is done on potential names, providing quantitative and qualitative data to support their selection for the product.
To examine the rise of brand name development strategy within the pharmaceutical space, one must examine how strategy has shaped the overall product launch model. All steps leading up to commercialization have for years worked under strategic influence. Why should a brand name development be any different? This mindset, where naming is included in the overall strategic plan, will help ensure that the same due diligence is provided to all areas of product development.
Brand name development strategic discussions have shifted from a sidebar within the overall marketing planning stages to inclusion as a piece of the product puzzle. Additionally, organizations are becoming more cognizant of what to look for when working on naming and branding.
An increased importance in brand name development steps such as testing for lookalike or sound-alike names not only helps the industry, but those it serves. Lives are saved by name safety processes that prevent patients from receiving the wrong prescription or from a doctor administering the wrong drug.
However, with great power comes great responsibility, which now lies more with the manufacturers to submit names that are judged beyond how they roll off the tongue or how well they fit on the side of a bottle.
This direction in brand name development, combined with the importance of each step in a product’s pre-launch lifecycle, has given rise to the idea that naming should be integrated earlier in the process, such as during clinical trials, which were once seen as a necessity for testing and the gathering of scientific information, with little need for development outside of the trial setup.
However, it soon became clear that one of the standard rules in branding – that the earlier a brand can be to build equity with its target audience – avails itself well to clinical trials. Early in the process of product commercialization, where missed opportunities exist to present a unified, strategic brand to an audience and therefore provide additional time and exposure to the brand, seems a perfect place for initial branding efforts The product will be presented to individuals and organizations who may one day become brand advocates – why not provide them with a consistent brand for which they could advocate?
Clinical trial branding is not only a chance to ensure consistency for external audiences, but for those internally as well. During its production and development, it is likely the product will acquire a number of nicknames, acronyms and monikers, which could vary between employees working on the same product. Confusion and misunderstandings are bound to arise if the single product is mentioned by multiple names. Clinical trial branding stops this potential problem at the beginning, by establishing a standardized and strategically developed brand to the product for use throughout the process.
Not only will the product own a singular brand name as it is progressing toward launch, but once that launch arrives the brand will have gained substantial equity with a wide-ranging audience. No longer does the product launch double as the brand launch. However, it is simply a milestone for the overall brand.
This is where brand name development comes full circle, incorporated at the very beginning of a product commercialization plan, guided by the same strategic direction as its fellow launch steps and driven by an increasingly aware and informed audience. These factors combine together to ensure that the product is armed at launch with a stronger, more impactful brand as it moves from development to deployment.