Finding the Value in Clinical Trial Branding

You probably didn’t begin reading this thinking there would be a test at the end, but don’t worry—there’s only one question. These are two names for a clinical trial: Clinical Trial XYB-z117 and Clinical Trial UNION. (HINT: The test will be to see if you remember these names when you reach the end of the article.)

In an increasingly saturated pharmaceutical market, the companies that can create differentiation within their field are the ones best set up for a successful journey through the drug development process. This is where clinical trial branding makes its mark. Differentiation no longer begins when it’s time to bring your drug to market, but now starts as early as your clinical trials.

Why Should You Brand Your Clinical Trial?

We all understand the scientific value that clinical trials provide in the development of a new molecule. But what we’ve come to see is this: More companies understand the value that clinical trial branding can provide, from building awareness and familiarity (steps one and two of brand equity) to laying the foundation for future brand strategy. A strong brand can communicate confidence in the product. Clinical trial branding is the first opportunity to build positive associations and lasting perceptions of the future brand.

With some clinical trial programs spanning several years, the opportunity for building momentum can be compounded over time. But if any time goes by without a clinical trial brand name, that can undercut what could be the product’s head start.

When deciding whether to move forward with a comprehensive clinical trial branding process, one factor to consider is that product’s competition within the clinical trial space. If similar products are under investigation and the study will be competing for recruitment, investors or educational space, your product will need to find ways to differentiate.

One simple and effective way to stand out is to establish a brand for the individual clinical trial or a set of trials under a program brand. Let’s face it—the alphanumeric code name pales in comparison to a thoughtful, strategic brand identity.

Once the decision is made to move ahead with the clinical trial branding, it is recommended that the sponsor take stock of all the factors in play for the product, including the current and emerging competitive landscape; the duration and number of trials being conducted; and whether or not the brand is designed to be leveraged in the future product launch. Within the scientific community and for clinical investigators, a branded clinical trial can steer these audiences toward the impression that the future product brand might look to make—and even establish some awareness or familiarity prior to launch.

How to Create a Meaningful Clinical Trial Brand

The best clinical trial branding strategies tie brand elements and characteristics back to a central concept or the purpose of the product under investigation. From the name and logo to the color and design of patient diaries and conference presentations, the branding should carry a clear and consistent message that allows the sponsor to build a cache of impressions that can later be deposited to the appropriate endpoint (preferably the product brand).

If a company is going to invest time and resources in building a clinical trial brand, it needs to be efficient and effective. In a branding sense, efficiency is the art of getting the most impact out while exerting the least amount of effort into the branding itself. An inefficient brand is one that must be explained at each step of the way—or one that leads to more uncertainty than clarity.

To Whom is Your Brand Speaking?

For the majority of time during the clinical trial lifecycle, its branding will be targeted to a select but diverse set of audiences, such as medical professionals, prospective partners and patients. As such, the varying audience characteristics of these groups should be taken into account when creating a clinical trial brand. From their likes and dislikes to their trigger words and images, it is necessary to build the brand around what will resonate most—and with the most important audience.

But let’s not overlook another important audience to consider when developing a clinical trial brand: The investor market. A fully branded clinical trial shows that the product in development is worthy of the sponsor’s extra time, energy and monetary support. This can help in gaining the investment community’s confidence in the true potential of the product—that it may be a good investment opportunity.

But to return to the compounding nature of clinical trial branding, confidence garners attention—which can provide publicity throughout the clinical trial process. Building equity in your clinical trial creates awareness across target audiences and positions the product in development in a more polished and complete way. That is what differentiates your asset from other emerging competitors.

The Versatility of Clinical Trial Branding

Clinical trial branding is not a single action, however. It does not encompass all of the necessary aspects needed to create and set a successful brand in action. In our work with clients, we have seen it take many forms, including single brand creation; program branding for multiple trials; theme-based branding; benefit-driven branding and many others.

This versatility gives clinical trial branding an added benefit for companies. It can allow them to tailor the characteristics and results to fit their unique needs. It also builds confidence that the final brand will encompass the best properties of this particular product moving forward.

Now back to the quiz I mentioned at the beginning of the article. Which of the two clinical trials named can you remember (without going back and reading them again)?

I’m almost certain Clinical Trial UNION was the leader over XYB-z117—even after you’ve been distracted by reading this information.

Now, imagine yourself at a conference, learning about multiple clinical trials, both unbranded versus branded. Branded sounds pretty good now, right?

  • Brannon Cashion

    Brannon Cashion is President of Addison Whitney, a part of inVentiv Health. With more than two decades of marketing experience, Brannon Cashion has led Addison Whitney’s offerings in brand strategy and development, brand name and logo creation, corporate identity consulting and market research, and oversees Addison Whitney’s offices in Charlotte, NC, Munich, Germany, New York, NY, Seattle, WA, London and Tokyo, Japan.


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