5 Essentials to Kick-start a Brand

5 Essentials to Kick-start a Brand

Written By: Vivek Hattangadi


This blog is a tribute to late PM Sapre on Guru Purnima Day, 2023.

Sapre Sir was my first trainer in Carter-Wallace, when I joined this industry in 1974.

Shall ever be grateful to him!

In 1974, when metronidazole was launched, there were just two options for the doctor: Flagyl and Metrogyl.

In the 1980s when tinidazole was launched, doctors had five to six options.

In the 1990’s when secnidazole was launched, there were ten to twelve options.

In the early 21st century when ornidazole was launched there are 426 options.

Such is the clutter of brands today. And believe me, that’s going to increase.

How do you shine out in this clutter? Go to the basics. Ponder over these five essentials.

1.  Start with ‘Why’.

2.  The Brands Vision.

3.  The Brand Name. 

4.  Generating Insights.

5.  Defining the Market.

Start with your ‘WHY’

Why does my brand exist? What is the purpose of my brand? Start defining your brand’s purpose. Shift your mindset to consider the emotional connection your brand has with your target doctors – the reason why your brand exists.  

Let’s see what Simon Sinek has to say! ”To define a brand’s purpose, shift your mindset to consider the emotional connection your brand has with your audience – the reason why your brand exists. It could be to solve an existing problem or make the lives of your end users better or easier. Consider how your brand, product or service makes a difference in the lives of the person who is using it. That is your brand’s purpose.”

I remember what Pramod Sapre told us about Colimex Drops when it was introduced. And the ‘WHY’ inspired me. “Do not tell what Colimex does.” he said, “tell doctors Colimex was developed to bring smiles in mothers and the infants who have terrible colic pain. And then detail Colimex Drops”. And this ‘WHY’ made Colimex Drops a runaway success.

Only brands that are authentically purposeful get remembered more.

The Brands Vision

A brand vision is a brand’s concept of its future. Where is the brand going? What does it want to achieve? What values does it want to stand for?

The vision of your brand should necessarily emanate from the vision of your brand, whether it is your product brand or the corporate brand.

Brand vision is the long-term projection of your brand’s future that establishes your brands presence in the limbic system of your target doctors.

Take the case of Dr. Reddy’s Labs. Why is it such an endearing firm? Read its values in its vision statement as envisaged by Dr. Anji Reddy himself. 

“Dr. Reddy’s Labs is in pursuit of providing affordable and innovative medicines for healthier lives. We will create an environment of innovation and learning while continuously reaching for higher levels of excellence.”

It is so emotional, touching your hearts! Dr. Reddy’s Labs cares for the health of the people of India by bringing medicines at a price which a common man can afford. At the same time it also shows concern for the professional growth and development of its employees and helps them in reaching higher levels of excellence. It is truly a Firm of Endearment. 

The Brand Name

Whether Pharma Bangladesh or Pharma India, the choice of a brand name is very, very challenging, yet one of the most significant decisions you take during brand development. 

Brand name is never straightforward as there are many intricacies. It requires planning, focus and perseverance, and ideally the non-involvement of owner.

I recall when in 1990, we in 1989 introduced famotidine (and we were the first to launch) I coined the name Famocid, a mix of the generic name and the main indication. I thought then it was a very clever brand name. I fell in love with it. Everyone was pleased and I was very happy. But in a couple of months many other companies launched famotidine. These names included Facid, Famodin, Famtac, Famonit, Famonite, Fadine, Faltidin… My God! All brand managers were thinking just like me! And suddenly to me, the brand name Famocid sounded so generic. 

Will I coin such a brand name today? NO, NO, NO!

I will start with the ‘WHY’ of my brand and then work on it. Or it may even be coined name or a word borrowed from a foreign language.

One such name coined was Feliz, an antidepressant. We started with the ‘WHY’ of Feliz. What’s the purpose of an antidepressant? To bring happiness in a patient’s life! Felicia in Spanish means happiness or specifically ‘happy times’. And the brand name coined was Feliz. Its tagline was also very emotional. “Feliz – Brings Pure Happiness”. and you guessed it correctly! Feliz went on to become a mega brand.

Generating Insights

Insights is one of the most misutilised word, often mixing it up with ‘data’, ‘information’ or ‘what the doctor says’ Insights is none of these. Insights are a revelation, an astonishing discover of something you already knew. It is the hidden truth. And once you unearth it, you may shout “Eureka”, just like Archimedes did when he ‘discovered’ that water in the bath tub displaced by his body was equal to the weight of his body.

Better the insight, the more it is emotional human revelation, you can use it build a good brand.

When Team Intas in their quest for finding a differentiation, met the target doctors and found that swallowing two 1 gram tablets of secnidazole meets patient’s resistance, it was an Eureka moment for them. This insight led to the development of a unique packaging to fulfil the unmet needs of the patients.

Defining the Market      

Begin your brand strategy crafting process with a doctor-centric definition of your market. Your inputs are very simple: your knowledge about who your doctors are and what are they interested in. The output is a crystal clear definition of the market in which you are competing.

Just as a mega-tower like the ‘Burj-Khalifa’ has a very deep and strong foundation, the new market definition will help you lay a solid foundation for your brand. Be focussed. Think deeply. Building brand strategies based on a doctor-centric market definition is the first stage of your brand strategy process.

To define the market, take into account the needs of the doctors. The needs are both the hygiene needs and the motivating needs.

The hygiene needs are the very basic needs. These can include efficacy safety, quality, and affordability for a great mass of patients who have pain. The ease of use should also include the caregiver at home. This is important as the patient spends 95% of the time with the caregiver at home. And the caregiver could be the mother, father, or someone near and dear to the patient.

The motivating needs of a doctor can include applicability across a wide range of chronic pain types, showing health economic efficacy, and minimization of change of practice by nursing staff.

The market definition should be created by the brand management team and the sales team together. Not just the corporate office-based senior sales managers, but also first-line managers.

The brand manager of GoPain, an NSAID containing nabumetone defined its market as under. 

“GoPain is in the pain relief market in which doctors want safety first, and efficacy next (hygiene needs) and includes general surgeons, gynaec surgeons, and orthopedic surgeons who want to be perceived as exceptional surgeons who are courageous, realistic to the patient’s needs and is a continuous learner (motivation needs). My market will not be for doctors who want efficacy first and safety next, nor for doctors who are conservative. My market is also not for the late adopters or the laggards who are not willing to learn new things continuously.”

Do not miss an important point – the market clearly excludes doctors who do not fit into the definition.

To summarise, all these five steps are very important. Many of these steps can be carried out simultaneously. Once you are ready with these five essentials, you are on the verge of launching a mega-brand because now your brand will stand out.  

Vivek Hattangadi

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