Can a Computer Develop a Better Brand Name?

“We all need the human touch; I need the human touch”

– Rick Springfield

Most pharmaceutical names suck. It’s unfortunate because these are products that for many people will change lives. In some cases, they cure or extend a life, or at the very least, make a life a little better. Most of the names for game changing products are born from a list of cold attributes, uninspired synonyms, and unpronounceable word parts. 

A big challenge for developing a great Rx brand name is strict regulations that require the name to not sound or look like any other marketed product. With a plethora of products entering the market, that can mean names will continue to get longer and weirder.

Rather than look strategically at the regulatory environment, the competitive set and the emotional impact potential the product has for HCPs and patients, ‘naming’ companies are resorting to Artificial Intelligence. Actually, calling this method of creation Artificial Intelligence is being charitable. What they are using is basically a word jumbler, taking word parts from a list of synonyms and producing a giant list of “names.”

We’ve probably all been a part of a naming meeting at one point or another where the actual naming agency struggles to pronounce the very names they’ve created. That is because a human did not craft the name; therefore, it was not made to be said by a human.

More often than not, naming agencies are making use of these word jumble programs. They plug in words like “tolerable” and ‘balanced’ and the program will spit out names like: TOLBAL, BALTOL, TOLABAL, and TOLEBAL

Anyone want to take BALTOL? Or work on the launch strategy for BALTOL? Strategic Imperative #1: undo the damage of the brand name BALTOL.

Would you let a computer program name your child? Then why would you let one name your brand? The name is the one key element of your brand that is least likely to change. So, you better love it.

To conclude, this month’s tip is to set aside the computer program on your next naming assignment and think more about the human impact your new drug is set to deliver. Ask your team to keep a naming pad or Naming Handbook as they go to research, workshops, during blue sky thinking sessions, and to jot down names as they come during moments of spontaneous inspiration. As the famous lyrics of Rick Springfield say, “We all need the human touch; I need the human touch.”

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