white pill

The pharma industry is at a decisive inflection point.

The New York Times reported last year that drug firms are likely to face billions of dollars in losses due to the pending expiration of numerous patents. Furthermore, the legitimacy of pharma brands and their products has been questioned by recent news of research firms falsifying drug-testing results used by pharmaceuticals companies as supporting evidence for FDA-approval. The seemingly constant stream of negative publicity is creating a corporate reputation firestorm for pharma companies, triggering reluctance and hesitancy among their most important audiences: investors, employees, policy makers, communities and the media.

For years, pharma companies have followed the “house of brands” strategy, focusing resources almost exclusively on building awareness and trust in product brands, often at the expense of the corporate brand. The result is that many consumers don’t even know the company that makes their daily prescriptions. Now, it’s the corporate brand that’s getting trashed. And after years of neglect, some may not be strong enough to weather the storm.

So are pharma companies better off tightening associations between the corporate and product brands, or have they been right in following a house of brands strategy?

A strong corporate brand instills trust and loyalty. Such confidence can help propel a company through uncertain times. However, keeping product brands at an arms length from the corporate brand (and the other products in its’ house) ensures a cushion should one product falter.

This begs the question, is it time for pharma companies to devote more resources to developing their corporate brands?