An Interview with Jane Parker and John Breen
InterbrandHealth recently announced the release of their first ever ranking of the world's Best Pharma Brands. The list was led by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Roche Group, Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK), Janssen: Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and Novartis (NYSE: NVS). The NYSE spoke with Jane Parker and John Breen about the creation of the list and the evolving role of brand in the pharma industry.
To start, please introduce yourselves and your roles at InterbrandHealth.
My name is Jane Parker, and I’m the CEO of InterbrandHealth, which is the global center of excellence within Interbrand for health. We are a brand consultancy with a deep and broad understanding of the entire healthcare ecosystem.
I’m John Breen, the Executive Director of Brand Intelligence and Experience at InterbrandHealth. I’m responsible for measuring brand impact, and led the Best Pharma Brands initiative and all of the analysis that supports it.
Can you give us a summary of the findings of this year’s report?
Jane: This is the first ever ranking of bio-pharmaceutical organizations and the findings really confirm what we've been observing for the last 5 or 6 years, which is that the role of the corporate brand is becoming more and more important as a driver of decision-making across the entire HCP population. The leading pharmaceutical organizations are recognizing that their brands are measurable business assets that need to be leveraged to fuel innovation and drive growth.
Can you talk about the valuation method you use when determining rankings?
John: The ranking is powered by Interbrand's ISO certified valuation methodology. Its purpose is to quantify the value of corporate brand in the biopharma industry and how it contributes to business performance. The model itself is built on the opinions of 1,900 global healthcare professionals, all of which were captured through a quantitative online survey.
A wide range of HCPs participated in the study, including: physicians, general practitioners, pharmacists, nursing staff, payers and policy-makers, and they were selected based on their area of specialization.
One of the three factors we include in the analysis is a financial review, which we’ve restricted to revenue generated by the sale of prescription drugs only for this report. Other revenue sources, such as medical devices or consumer health products, were excluded because we wanted to make sure we were doing an apples-to-apples comparison.
What are the commonalities between the top brands in this year’s list? What characteristics and behaviors do they share?
Jane: There are definitely more commonalities than differences between the 10 companies that appear on our ranking—and the central one is that they all have spent time evolving their brands based on the understanding that one either embraces change internally or is changed by external forces.
Before we go any further, I think it’s important to define what we mean by “change.” We’re not talking about change in terms of things like product offerings or simple visual identity, but rather more about change as it relates to what a company stands for and what it believes. I think that change has been approached with some apprehension in the biopharma industry, but it’s an easier thing to accomplish than people expect if you are making changes for meaningful reasons. The leading biopharma companies are good listeners; they are making sure they understand their customers’ needs and using that knowledge to inform change.
Also, the top brands identified within our report are very good at exhibiting the behaviors associated with the promise behind their brand. One of the factors we examine when determining Brand Strength (the second component of Interbrand's Brand Valuation model) is the authenticity of a brand. In other words, to what extent does a company behave in a way that’s congruent with its brand position. Simply put, today’s biopharma companies have to do what they say they’re going to do.
The bottom line is that leaders of biopharma organizations are recognizing that they have to forge a strong connection between their corporate brand and the stakeholders that interact with it.
John: I think the biggest takeaway is that leading biopharma companies see their corporate brands as important business assets. They recognize that their corporate brands can help drive business decisions when mergers and acquisitions or other transactions are being considered—and corporate brands can also be a driving force behind corporate citizenship (CSR) initiatives.
There are a lot of areas in which the brand can be leveraged to inform business strategies and practices. And I think that biopharma companies have an opportunity to tell the marketplace a richer story about themselves. For example, biopharma companies are often the most active when it comes to corporate citizenship, and yet a majority of their customers don’t realize this since conversations tend to be about the pricing of drugs and delivering cost savings. This misses a very important part of their identity and purpose, and that’s where a strong brand presence can step in and help tell that story.
Jane: It’s important to note that the corporate brand goes beyond the product delivery level. For years, pharma companies have been defined almost exclusively by their products and not by their brands, and those days are quickly coming to an end.
Explain the power of brand. How has it become greater than corporate identity, and how is it now able to drive business performance?