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  • Posted by: Suzanne Martinez on Wednesday, May 14 2014 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

    name word cloud

    What’s in a name? When you work in branding, the answer is everything. A branded name is an essential element of identity. It’s usually the first thing that customers see or notice and, typically, it’s how they remember a company or product. It’s the start of their brand experience and is crucial for cultivating trust and loyalty. Traditionally, healthcare has focused its brand names around functional features and not attempted to reach audiences on an emotional level. Interbrand research shows that this is a missed opportunity; brand can affect the bottom line and drive profit, premium, and preference. So, why is the critical process of naming so challenging in healthcare?

    1) Trademark development is a key issue for new brands in the healthcare space. As with consumer brands, a name must have legal viability. When we begin the naming process, most clients start by telling us what they would like the brand to communicate. Our team then constructs hundreds of names that convey that idea either through specific combinations of letters, metaphors, or stylistic attributes. As trademarks continue to proliferate, it is harder to find white space around a specific letter string/communication (especially if it is inspired by a functional feature that isn’t spectacularly innovative or groundbreaking).

    2) Equally difficult is acquiring a website domain. Securing a .com for your brand, essential in today’s increasingly digital world, can be incredibly challenging. As the digital arena expands, so does global reach. 

    3) It’s essential to test the linguistics of any brand name against different global markets to ensure what you are saying in one language doesn't mean something bad, off-putting, or irrelevant in another language. 

    4) Even after passing these tests, names go up against a tough audience: internal stakeholders. Many people involved in evaluating and decision making around a new brand name are not familiar with the challenges a potential trademark must overcome and do not understand how valuable a viable name candidate truly is. Typically, they have strong, subjective, and sometimes emotional, opinions about what their brand should communicate and are surprised when they don’t see it articulated as expected in a name.

    5) Unlike most consumer industries, the healthcare industry faces an additional, distinct set of challenges when it comes to brand name development. If the name is for a drug, implant, and, occasionally, a medical device product, regulatory authorities must approve it. Not only are there different regulatory authorities in different markets—making global branding particularly challenging—but each has an individual set of criteria to evaluate and approve the name. Regulatory authorities look at many aspects of a potential brand name, with their main concern focusing around safety.

    Remember the last time you got a prescription at the doctor’s office? Could you read the written prescription from your physician? Regulators require that healthcare names not sound like or look like another product name to minimize confusion and pharmacist or physician error. That’s why names for the same condition, such as depression, are as varied as Prozac, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin. Additionally, the name cannot directly communicate a health and wellness claim or non-functional benefit.  So we can hint at attributes—pro- active-prozac, loft-lift-zoloft—but not be overt about benefits; no one will ever really be able to brand an antidepressant called “happy pills,” even if we use the term colloquially.

    6) Once a name passes the trademark tests and surpassed regulatory hurdles (if necessary), the brand name still has obstacles ahead. Healthcare marketers need a name that speaks to a variety of audiences, whether it is a product name or corporate name. Communication pieces need to interact very differently with patients versus physicians versus insurance companies. Something you would say in the consumer world that is inherently understood as positive may be interpreted as negative in the context of healthcare. Take Jet Blue, for example. This is a great name that immediately communicates speed (monosyllabic), action (jet), and safety/serenity (blue skies). However if the word "blue" were used for a medical product, it may communicate depression, coldness, or even death (think: code blue).

    When considering how difficult it is to brand an entity within the healthcare category, it makes sense that our industry has traditionally focused its names on functionality. This has resulted in a lot of scientific healthcare brands that don't tap into the emotions of their customers. When brands are unable to build a relationship with customers beyond a functional feature, they may not experience long-term success. A brand’s longevity requires a connection that goes beyond how something works–tapping into emotions and creating a relationship with end-users. This opportunity is huge and exciting, but it must be approached using industry expertise and category insights in order to build a meaningful connection with customers that stands the test of time.   

    Suzanne Martinez is a Senior Consultant, Verbal, at InterbrandHealth.

    Connect with InterbrandHealth, the only full-service global branding consultancy with an exclusive focus on healthcare.

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  • Posted by: InterbrandHealth on Monday, February 24 2014 05:05 PM | Comments (0)
    R. John Fidelino

    The Life Science Brand Reputation & Communications Conference was held last week in Atlanta, Georgia with attendees from a host of healthcare companies including AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare and UCB Inc. InterbrandHealth’s Executive Creative Director R. John Fidelino addressed the crowd on the role of corporate brand for communications professionals.

    A corporate brand is traditionally the most under leveraged business asset within the health and life sciences industry. When used strategically, the corporate brand in healthcare has the power to drive economic value for the company, create demand and build loyalty for a business. Historically, the corporate brand has been relegated to corporate communications and investor relations. 

    As we see the health industry transform, a strong corporate brand is a key tool for communications professionals. Using the corporate brand thoughtfully and consistently on products, services, and initiatives that matter can bolster your business's reputation and add value to your relationships with your consumers, investors, and employees.

    Fundamentally, brands can influence how people understand their world, and healthcare brands can shape people’s perceptions about disease, treatment, and even themselves. If your corporate identity is well-defined, then it can be the lens by which you innovate and also make business decisions.

    Communications strategists can reap four key benefits from honing in on the corporate brand:

    1. Defining your company’s distinct point of view is critical. Once you do, you and others within the company will have clarity around what matters most at your company and that will ensure coordinated and consistent messaging across your business.

    2. As mentioned previously, corporate brands often get “stuck” at corporate communications and investor relations. To grow influence, corporate brands need to be built around commercial dynamics and needs. The more aware you are of what is needed for commercial success, the more credibility you will have in mandating the use of the corporate brand across the business in a prominent way.

    3. You should be proud of your corporate social responsibility activities. They can boost corporate reputation, marketplace perception, and give employees something to be proud of. The equity and good will you build around the company as a result of your CSR activities can benefit your product brands. Getting credit for the good that you do also helps further your cause as it raises more awareness about why you invested in the first place.

    4. Your corporate brand can help you can connect to specialty customer groups in new and meaningful ways that product brands cannot. The corporate brand can aggregate products in your portfolio that share the same mission, therapeutic focus or technology. In this way the corporate brand can help support commercial objectives at the product level.

    R. John closed the presentation with best practices from some well-known healthcare brands, and gave attendees a few things to consider: everything counts, carry the torch, be proactive, and give them proof.

    All communications, relationships, and interactions make up your brand experience. Using corporate brand as a unifying force has an impact on every aspect of your business and, ultimately, on your company’s bottom line. By carrying the torch for the corporate brand across the organization, you’ll ensure clarity and consistency through all departments and business units, from research and development to human resources. 

    The best brands give their employees a reason to get up in the morning. They make sure that the people who work for them know what they are doing and why. They give them something to believe in and empower them with the tools to make things happen. 

    Lastly, you should create proof points for communications activities around the corporate brand and establish the metrics needed to demonstrate value. For a brand to be strong and meaningful, it must be embedded into every level of your business and measured.

    The Life Science Brand Reputation and Communications Conference, in addition to branding, covered topics such as optimizing social media, managing communications during mergers and acquisitions, and developing the role of patient advocacy relations.

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  • Posted by: InterbrandHealth on Monday, June 11 2012 04:28 PM | Comments (0)
    Wes Wilkes

    The true market potential for biosimilars has been under a microscope. In our last blog post we framed the industry, looking at some of the varying and conflicting points of view of major players in the industry. In this post we will begin exploring InterbrandHealth’s perspective on biosimilars.

    We recently participated in the Financial Times US Healthcare and Life Sciences Conference on June 6, 2012 in New York City. Below are some of the points that were discussed during the biosimilars panel that Wes Wilkes, our Executive Director of Global Strategy, participated in during the panel Biosimilars: Coming of Age?

    Biosimilars are here. Most of the conversation today is how the regulatory pathways will shape the landscape in the US, EU, and the rest of the world. What we are helping most of our clients with today is looking past the regulatory approvals and focusing on the uptake and competition post-regulatory approval.

    The uptake in developed markets will ultimately provide significant savings and access to a new population of patients. But new entrants may be underestimating the loyalties that exist with reference product manufacturers, and the trepidation that may exist for providers and patients to switch to the biogenerics, specifically those that treat more chronic conditions.

    We are not talking the same price disparities we see with generics in the small molecule space. In some markets we may be talking less than 30% in price savings, not to mention the price elasticity reference product manufacturers are willing to explore as the basement price for many of the big products is still unknown. Pair that with the brand loyalty, trust and safety that have been built up over the last decade — and we have a much different game on our hands.

    Some of the newer entrants can learn from the mistakes made in the past in the small molecule space, especially in how they will compete and differentiate themselves in a highly competitive environment.We see the future successors differentiating themselves on:

    1) The corporate/manufacturer brand

    2) The manufacturing process

    3) The technologies and delivery devices

    However, we see most of the efforts to date being placed in the reverse order. Of course the technology and delivery device is an obvious differentiator, but we are encouraging our clients to consider the uptake barriers that do and will exist post-approval.

    One of the greatest barriers is concern over safety and quality controls. Yes, the price will be a driver of choice, but the hurdle of a relatively “unknown” player with different manufacturing technologies may not be enough to overcome the price disparity.

    Starting now to lay the foundation of the corporate and manufacturer equities will be key to post-approval commercial success. Providers and payers will have an increased scrutiny on this space especially in the more chronic conditions. We feel that focusing only on the differences in delivery and dosing may be a bit myopic in a category where brand loyalty, trust and respect will be key.

    Stay tuned for a white paper on biosimilars where we will be exploring these commercial strategies in more depth. For more information on this topic please email: info@interbrandhealth.com

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  • Posted by: InterbrandHealth on Tuesday, April 24 2012 04:00 PM | Comments (0)
    Meredith Harris, InterbrandHealth Creative Manager

    On Wednesday April 4th, IBH Creative Manager, Meredith Harris, gave a presentation at her alma mater, Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Meredith provided graduate students with insight into how she was able to parlay her degree in architecture into a career in healthcare branding. There was a brief Q&A session after the presentation. Here are some of the questions the students asked Meredith.

    Q&A with Meredith Harris

    Q: What did you hope to accomplish as you entered the design/consulting profession?

    A: I wanted to find a way to work in the healthcare industry and still apply my creative side. I liked the inherent structure and regulations that are built into the healthcare industry, which to me present an interesting challenge, especially from a design standpoint. Ultimately, I wanted to work in a field that could provide a balance between my interests in medicine and design, and required a strategic application of the skills I developed in architecture school.

    Q: Any previous employments that contributed to your current role?

    A: Because of my undergraduate experiences in the healthcare industry, ranging from the volunteer work I did in hospitals to internships at the National Institute of Health; I have an understanding of what these working environments are like and where the opportunities are for brand in these areas. When I speak with our clients, I can easily understand the scientific context of their work and the lengthy processes required in order to make their research come to life.

    Also, my internships at various architecture firms contributed to my current role because each firm offered more than just architectural services; I contributed to several other design projects for graphic design and product design. Thus, I was experienced in balancing several different types of projects at once and present design work to a client.

    Q: What is it about your job in healthcare branding that you enjoy the most?

    A: I enjoy being able to manage design work for the healthcare industry as a whole, which goes beyond architectural services and includes visual, verbal, and experiential design. I enjoy the challenge of creating brands that are truly engaging for audiences that are currently disengaged or simply unaware of how these healthcare companies can provide them with a revolutionary experience.

    Q: Tell us about your most ambitious goals in the role that you play today.

    A: I am truly passionate about brand and what it can do for the healthcare space. I aspire to bring a more total brand experience to InterbrandHealth clients and demonstrate how this can bring value to their business and to the people who need their services/products.

    One’s health is so incredibly personal and inherently experiential. I am always looking for ways in which we can deliver on designing an experience and not just a logo that reaches an audience and influences how they think about their own health.

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  • Posted by: Jyotsna Kini on Monday, April 9 2012 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

    On March 27th, the FDA approved Omontys (peginesatide), a drug used to treat anemia in adult dialysis patients who have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Omontys represents the first innovation in two decades – 20 years where the only option for CKD patients has been Amgen's Epogen. InterbrandHealth worked with Affymax and Takeda Pharmaceuticals to develop a brand name that would allow peginesatide to breathe fresh air into an older category riddled with monopoly.

    The market is excited to have a new treatment option and Omontys is poised to transform the world of anemia in CKD – it is slated to generate as much as $700 million in peak sales by 2017.

    Congratulations to Affymax and Takeda on this significant FDA approval!

    Jyotsna Kini is a Creative Director with InterbrandHealth in New York.

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