4 Ways to Stop Killing Your Best Pharma Brand Names

“We’ve created countless pharma brand names. And you know what? We internally dislike 99% of them. There’s clearly something wrong,” says a pharmaceutical marketing professional with 20 years of experience.

Truth be told, marketing teams in pharma often discard their own promising ideas prematurely. This tendency results in many, commercially viable names never being presented to legal teams or regulatory agencies due to a fear-based assumption that they’re “too good to pass.” Consequently, we end up with uninspired brand names that don’t stand the chance to create a lasting impact, in what is an already difficult to permeate space.

The question remains: what makes a “good” pharma brand name?

1. Embracing a Strategic Approach to Pharma Brand Naming

      It’s crucial to abandon the mindset that “anything good, must be bad”. Due to regulations on name safety and crowded competitor trademarking, it has become commonplace to think that “a good name is an approved name.” In reality, a “good name is a strategic name.” Embracing a strategy-forward approach can yield names that are both strategic and compliant. Regulatory frameworks are strict but not impassable barriers to creativity. For example, names like Adlyxin (a play on adding lixisenatide to insulin, referring directly to its proper use) and Ampyra (amplifying MS patients’ ability to walk) demonstrate that names suggesting a drug’s mechanism can transcend expectations and resonate deeply in the market. These names could have easily been discarded due to internal doubts about their boldness, but knowledgeable strategic-thinking vendors know when a name is worth submission.

      2. The Measure of a Name: Effectiveness Over Affection

      The goal is not for your team to fall in love with a name instantly. Remember, the internal team is not the end user. It’s unrealistic to expect universal adoration for a brand name within your team. More importantly, names like Adlyxin aren’t meant to dazzle, but rather to achieve descriptive power and market longevity. A good brand name should grow on its users over time, evolving from functional to beloved, thereby achieving brand loyalty.

      3. Constructive Critique Over Cynicism

      Address and moderate team members who trivially dismiss good names. It’s essential to differentiate constructive critique from mere cynicism. Skepticism is a natural part of the naming process, but it shouldn’t obstruct innovation. Using strategic arguments can help shift the focus from personal biases to alignment with the brand’s objectives – transforming potential setbacks into opportunities for deeper brand engagement. This shift in perspective turns potential name-killers into opportunities for deeper brand stories.

      4. The Art of the Blank Canvas

      Don’t underestimate the potential of “blank canvas” names. While they may initially seem non-strategic or empty, they can represent the pinnacle of strategic naming. Blank canvas names are not the absence of strategy; they are the epitome of it. They are a foundation upon which we can build a robust and resonant brand identity. It takes a good team to know the linguistic nuance of how to build the right tonality and connotations in a text string. The truth is, there’s tons of empirical linguistic data to support this, but not every team or vendor knows it. With the right linguistic craftsmanship, these names can become vessels for powerful brand narratives that capture the essence of the brand’s promise.

      So, if you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: numerous promising pharma brand names are dismissed for unjust reasons. Don’t let your next great name fall by the wayside due to premature internal rejection. By championing strategic innovation, prioritizing long-term effectiveness, and fostering balanced dialogue, we can create names that not only comply with regulations but also captivate the market, by communicating with clarity and purpose.