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Making a case for getting the brand name right What’s in a Name? A new brand name must inherently – through the image it conveys, the way it sounds, and the way it rolls off someone’s tongue – describe the essence of the brand and the advantages that a user would enjoy. Think of how simply and powerfully Claritin conveys its benefits to allergy sufferers. Other examples of names that clearly convey their qualities include Alavert, which helps users “avert allergies,” and Prevacid, which “prevents acid.” Though acid is pronounced differently, the message is still crystal clear. Some successful brand names may not have such an obvious connection to their benefits, but are backed by massive advertising spending. For example, though the name Nexium hardly conveys heartburn relief, the advertising message touting Nexium as that miraculous “little purple pill” keeps it jumping off the shelves. Still, companies without big bucks to invest in a marketing program need to choose a brand name that instantly paints a picture of the product’s benefits. But getting the name right is not that simple. It entails far more than a few brainstorming sessions where everybody puts sounds together hoping to form that magical word. An effective brand name comes from a well-orchestrated process called strategic pharmaceutical industry naming (SPIN), which comprises several steps. 1. Evaluate the marketplace. Go online to find out what potential users, physicians, industry leaders, and others are saying about the medical condition that the drug treats and competitive products already on the market. This research will uncover how potential users feel, including which names and messages motivate them and which offend them. For example, most seniors would be turned off by a product touted as a cure-all or a name that connotes youth. They would probably prefer a name associated with a higher quality of life. This research also will uncover what motivates physicians to prescribe certain pharmaceutical products, based on their medical knowledge; conversations with patients over the years; and other factors. Opinions of industry leaders, family members, and other influential professionals, such as nurses, nurse educators, and therapists, also can be gleaned. All this information will help identify what the targeted audience needs and the right messages to reach that audience. 2. Develop a list of potential names. Start creating a list of names that sound like or are in some way associated with the product. Use variations on spellings and sounds to come up with a few hundred names. Then log onto the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Website at and click on “trademarks” to view which names are already being used and these should be automatically eliminated. This process should purge the list down to 50 to 75 names. 3. Talk to the marketplace. Review the findings from the marketplace evaluation (Step 1) and set up in-person and phone interviews with potential users and other influential persons identified in the online research. Ask in-depth questions about attitudes, perceptions, motivators, and other factors to confirm or modify the initial analysis. For example, if the drug treats heartburn, what words or sounds make users feel relief and comfort? 4. Narrow the list to five names. Using all the information and analysis collected thus far, sit down with key people on the team – senior company executives, marketing and communications directors, legal counsel, the advertising agency, and others – to select the five best names. Be sure to consider practical criteria, such as trademark availability and legal considerations, as well as gut feelings. 5. Test names with visualized concepts. Work with the advertising agency or in-house creative team to develop pseudo ads, visual concepts that resemble newspaper and magazine advertisements. Mix and match names and text with different color and typography treatments. Test reactions to the different concepts through separate focus groups that comprise potential users, physicians, and others. Use a perceptual mapping process where participants rank names and text-visual combinations based on qualities important to them, recall, and other factors. To further test reactions to the visualized concepts, consider one-on-one interviews with potential users, doctors, and other key groups. This qualitative research can help to determine which names match the “self concept” of those using and prescribing the drug and thus evoke the most favorable reactions. Plus, very quickly the names that people dislike will become apparent. 6. Select brand name and launch marketing program. Choose a name that best captures the essence of the brand, enhances recall, and helps stake out ground in the marketplace. Try to select a name that conveys the product’s benefits as opposed to the symptoms it treats. One exception is the allergy drug Allegra, which “screams” the problem instead of the solution. On the other hand, it reminds many of the musical term Allegro, used to describe an upbeat song from an orchestra. This is positive, but hardly related to allergy relief. Yet Allegra is easy to enunciate and to remember and, again, is backed by a major advertising campaign. The right name – along with the insights gained from the SPIN process – can give the advertising and marketing program a head start. From the beginning, marketers will be able to develop the right strategies and craft messages that motivate their targeted audience. Plus, they will be able to determine the most cost-effective tactics such as print ads, radio/TV ads, direct mail, public relations, and others. Walter Guarino, a 30-year industry veteran and frequent lecturer on marketing and research, is president of Insight|SGW, an integrated marketing communications firm based in Montville, N.J. For more information, visit F PharmaVoice welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at A name can mean the difference between Success or failure, especially when companies invest substantial dollars to launch a new drug, a new line of drugs, or a new ingredient. Unless the company is a household name with plenty of resources to pour into testing different advertising strategies, selecting the right brand name is critical. And it can pave the way to a targeted and cost-effective marketing program. Walter Guarino, president, of Insight/SGW, Montville, N.J., says getting the right brand name is not that simple. It entails far more than a few brainstorming sessions where everybody puts sounds together hoping to form that magical word. Walter Guarino a case study: Natrulon, from Lonza … naturally Sometimes a product’s qualities are so clear that a company’s branding team doesn’t need to rack its brains going through hundreds of names, as long as the few names considered are not already trademarked. Officials from Lonza, who were introducing a new line of ingredients that aid skin lightening, skin repair, and preservation, wanted a name that suggested organic and natural. This entire product line contains ingredients naturally derived from plants, generally recognized as safe. Though the line would be marketed primarily to R&D managers, formulators, and sales/marketing executives of firms that manufacture personal-care products, the same naming process was employed as for drugs targeted to consumers and physicians. First, the Insight|SGW team created names similar to the word “organic” but it was quickly determined that Organica was already trademarked as a skin-care product. Even if another variation of the word organic was available, it would have been foolish to market this name against an existing personal-care product that already had its share of brand-name recognition. Then the branding team focused on the word natural and struck gold – after some initial frustration. The team took the letters “natur” followed by virtually every letter and combination of letters and developed a list of more than 100 possibilities. But this led to a dead end, since every one had already been trademarked. The solution came quickly. The team simply transposed two letters, deleted another, and came up with “natrul.” A closer look revealed that the middle three letters “tru” underscored the product’s qualities, suggesting that it was truly natural and pure. But it got even better. After considering names such as natrulan and natruline (referring to the company’s line of products,) the Insight|SGW team was able to incorporate the company’s name, Lonza. The winning name: Natrulon. By inherently stressing qualities such as natural and true, the name Natrulon dictated brand positioning and enabled us to create the tag line: from Lonza … naturally. For the logo, we used a lower-case initial n, put the middle three letters in bold, and incorporated a rendering of a water droplet to further convey its natural and pure qualities. Remember that every brand-naming process is different, depending on the critical benefits, names available, the ability to manipulate letters, and a little luck. Making a case for getting the brand name right

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