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David Ogilvy, the famous consumer ad agency founder who has long been recognized as a pioneer in branding, defined a brand as a “complex symbol…it is the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” A company’s brand, whether for a packaged good or a prescription drug, is a unique, proprietary marketplace relationship that provides long-term strategic value to the organization. A brand is, in fact, a company’s most precious asset. Pharmaceutical companies that want to maintain strong, positive relationships with their multiple audiences must continually protect, safeguard, and build up the value of their brands. Therefore, it is imperative for long-term success to build enduring brands by supporting them throughout their life cycle in a manner that raises the confidence levels of a diverse array of healthcare professionals and patients alike. Brand Stewardship Brand stewardship is the leadership and accountability for the long-term well being of a brand. It is the willingness to use the broadest array of tools and techniques to understand, develop, and enhance the relationship between a consumer and a brand. At the core of brand stewardship is a clear understanding of the brand and the beliefs on which it is built. Brand stewardship involves a long-term approach to maintaining the brand promise and brand relationships that create and sustain brand equity. One reason why brand stewardship is so important today is that successful brand managers are often rewarded for outstanding performance with new career opportunities in other areas of the company. The result of staff growth and mobility can be a lack of continuity in managing the brand and the absence of a consistent long-term strategy for ensuring brand equity. By establishing a close collaborative working relationship with the agency, brand managers will be able to maintain a strong expression of their brand. Great brands and brand loyalty are the result of pharmaceutical companies and their agencies partnering to act as stewards of the brand relationship. Working Together Pharmaceutical companies generally recognize the importance of uniform messaging that is on strategy and true to brand positioning but may be uncertain as to how to ensure consistency across channels, over time, in different countries, and to a diverse array of audiences including physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, patients, etc. And as companies expand their presence in emerging markets, they face new challenges because not only do the target audiences differ greatly in terms of culture, language, etc, there are often several vendors executing brand strategy. Regardless of where and how tactics are executed, there will be the needed continuity of positioning, messaging, and “look and feel.” As brand stewards, the agency streamlines all efforts on behalf of the brand and owns the core brand concepts (both strategic and creative). The agency should play both a consultative role and an executional one in sustaining the long-term success of a brand. Critical Success Factors As brand stewards, it is a shared responsibility of the brand manager and the agency to ensure consistency of messaging and positioning to increase the product’s perceived value to the customer and thereby increase brand franchise and brand equity. There are several critical steps to ensure success, including the following: • Develop and define ownership of a cross-functional plan. • Leverage market research to know the target audience. • Determine short- and long-term brand objectives. • Create a brand guide and stick to it. • Communicate, communicate, communicate…keep all partners in the loop. Brand stewardship uses strategies and tactics to consistently manage the healthcare professionals’ and patients’ experience of the brand. It helps companies improve relationships with their customers and select the best times and methods for communicating with them. It creates new opportunities and increases the value of brands and products. Working with their agency to support brands throughout their life cycle, pharmaceutical companies can build enduring brands that live as part of their customers’ lives and command their loyalty and confidence today and into the future. n Brand stewardship uses strategies and tactics to consistently manage the healthcare professionals’ and patients’ experience of the brand. It helps companies improve relationships with their customers and select the best times and methods for communicating with them. The Art of Brand Stewardship Anshal Purohit, VP, Strategic Development Purohit Navigation is a full-service, independent, integrated healthcare brand solutions company. For more information, visit purohitnavigation.com.