Pharma brand

The Nine Things To Build a Robust Pharma Brand

Pharma brand building is a complex process. Success depends on the brand manager’s ability to explore fresh avenues and sustain the competitive advantages of her brand. I am sharing with you nine tips on how to build successful brands.

  1. Logos

What does the SWOOSH sign remind you of? Nike, right? What is the face of Amul in its advertisements? Its logos! Your brand logo is typically the first visual expression a doctor will experience when interacting with medical representatives. And the first impression is also a long-lasting impression. Your brand logo is a powerful tool in establishing your brand, although logo alone is not a brand. Says Lee Newham of ‘Designed By Good People’ logos should be: (Ref. 1)

  • Describable
  • Memorable
  • Effective without color (in black and white)
  • Scalable i.e., work when just an inch in size
  • Relevant to the industry

Make use of logos to show the power of your brand.

  1. Colors

Why is Coca-Cola red? And so are Vodafone, Eveready Cells, and Bata. Red is a color that can stimulate, although often, red signals danger. Pepsi is blue. And so also are PharmaState Academy, Facebook, SBI, and LinkedIn, Blue is a calming and relaxing color although quite often it can mean depression. What you read here were the contrasting responses to the same color. It is, therefore, not accurate to stereotype color associations. What is true however is that: “Color creates emotion, triggers memory, and gives sensation,” says Chief Creative and Editorial Director, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. In a study titled “Impact of Color on Marketing,” researchers found that 90% of the snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, depending on the product. People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90% of the assessment is based on colors alone. So, prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors but also to influencing moods and feelings – positively or negatively – and therefore, to attitudes towards certain products. (Ref. 2) Studies have revealed our brains prefer immediately recognizable brands, which makes color an essential element when creating a brand identity.

  1. Fonts and Type

Font selection is just as important as choosing the right colors, if not more important. The wrong font and the brand name could be confusing, even downright unreadable. You would not choose a boxy type of font (like Arial Black or Kabel Black) for a wedding card; a Myriad Pro or Corinthia Pro would be more appropriate. Or Romantica. Typeface and Fonts convey the brand personality. Font selection is vital to make your brand being perceived the way you want as a brand manager – a mass market brand, or a high-end niche premium brand. Do not overlook this aspect in branding. Make sure the typeface is legible, complements the color and logo, and is distinctive.

  1. Imagery

Did our ancestors not use pictures and images to communicate? Images play a powerful role in all communication if they are appropriate to the audience and to your message. That is how the first Visual Aid in the Indian pharma industry was evolved by Prof. Tarun Gupta 42 years back. David Ogilvy writes that a picture is worth 1,000 words. The advertising world has always relied on powerful imagery to tell a marketing story. In the book ‘401 Design Meditations’ Catherine Fishel writes: “Creating visual imagery is a state of mind. It involves the reproduction of what we see. But much more than that, it becomes an outlet to express feelings about what we experience.” (Ref.3) According to Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Centre for Professional Development… “…Words are processed by our short-term memory. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.” The frequent practice of downloading images from the Internet is taboo. Most of them do not convey appropriate messages nor are they attractive. The images should have life, real life. Showing American images of Indian doctors is ridiculous. Get images shot by competent photographers for the promotional material. The photographs should be so good that they do not appear fake. Smiling, laughing images can immortalize your brand.

  1. Voice

Voice is the tone of your communications and the style of your writing. Voice determines the personality of your brand. “Your brand already has a voice. Is it the right voice? Is it engaging? The personality of your brand is determined, in large measure, by the words you use and the sentences you write.” (Ref.4) Create an authentic voice for your brand. Words should be bold, but not arrogant; irreverent, but not offensive; loud, but not obnoxious. (Ref.4) Says business writer Jason Fried: “When you write like everyone else, you’re saying, “Our products are like everyone else’s”.” First, define your brand personality in just three to five words. Is this word reflected in your copy? If your voice is distinct you will separate from the crowd.

  1. Design

An outstanding graphic design is the difference between an outstanding promotional material and a good one. A well-designed promo will grab the attention of doctors as it aids recall. It will engage your field staff in the brand and will reduce the time to become the leader brand. Many brand managers want to cram as much information into a space as possible, and many doctors put up roadblocks when it comes to viewing them. The catch is creating a design that doctors want to interact with, even though it’s a visual aid or medico-marketing promotional literature. Ask yourself whether the overall design and layout communicate your brand voice. Does it help the medical representative in the delivery of the message? Is the copy organized in an easy-to-understand hierarchy?

  1. Positioning

Brand positioning is another particularly important concept in building successful and powerful brands. Positioning, you all know means to form in the mind of the doctor a concept about your brand by comparing it to something already familiar to the customer and to make it “real” to him/her how your brand can be useful and beneficial to his/her patient. Positioning is the emotional component of differentiating your brand from the huge crowd. Do not forget that It is a human who prescribes a product and not a computer: your customer is a human first and then a doctor. Say Al Ries and Jack Trout: “The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what is already in the mind, to retie connections, that already exist.” (Ref.5) The power of a brand comes from the power it’s positioning. Unilever have used this concept so well in their range of soaps: Lux, Lifebuoy, Pears, and Liril. They are perceived so differently from each other that each occupies a different place in the minds of the consumer. And finally, positioning is also the art of sacrifice. Do not try to please everyone – you cannot.

  1. Consistency

As a consumer, think about the brands to which you are most loyal. Chances are that they have earned your trust because they are dependable. The success of Liril soap is not just because of its positioning, it is because of its consistency for the last 42 years since it was first introduced. The first Liril girl playing in the water, diving, jumping, and swimming under a waterfall in 1974 was Karen Lunel. With the same backdrop, the same ambiance, the girls have changed from Karen Lunel to Pooja Batra, Preity Zinta, Deepika Padukone, and now the Brazilian Anabelle Consistency is the key to building a strong brand. Consistency can make the brand timeless. When something does not work, look back at what happened and ask some earnest questions. Did you shift gears too quickly? Was strategy execution poor? Were the medical representatives not committed? Often, the reason tracks back to lack of consistency. Stay consistently consistent!

  1. Audit

If your brand is not performing well or delivering to your satisfaction, a brand audit will help give you insights into your brand’s impact and performance in the marketplace. And most importantly, WHY? A brand audit is just like giving your brand a health check. It is a thorough examination of a brand’s current position in the market compared to its competitors and a review of its effectiveness. A brand audit will help identify the value of your brand, the awareness of your brand, the deficiencies of your brand, the threats of your competitors, and so on. The most wonderful tools for brand audit are the JoHari Window of your brand and the SWOT Analysis of your brand. The JoHari Window is a new concept in brand audit developed specifically for the pharma industry. (Ref.6) Perform a brand audit consistently. For a new brand, at least once a month and for an established brand at least every six months. A brand cannot be built overnight. It is like the Chinese Bamboo Tree. It requires your consistent love, attention, commitment careful nurturing, and engaging your medical representative’s heart and soul.

Written by:

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Vivek Hattangadi – Chief Mentor at
PharmaState & The Enablers


  1. Lee Newham in A Good Blog ‘Designed By Good People’ (Available on
  2. Satyendra Singh, (2006) “Impact of color on marketing”, Management Decision, Vol. 44 Iss: 6, pp.783 – 789 (Available on…/10.1108/00251740610673332)
  3. Catherine Fishel (2005). 401 Design Meditations: Wisdom, Insights, and Intriguing Thoughts from 150 Leading Designers. Rockport Publishers Inc.
  4. Available on the Larsen Blog
  5. Al Ries and Jack Trout (1981). Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. McGraw Hill; New York