close up image of source bioscience booklet

Brands are powerful, and the pharmaceutical industry is not immune from their attraction. It’s common knowledge that brand names can impact the perceived and actual effectiveness of medications. Studies have proven that branded aspirin can show 25% to 75% more effective pain relief for headaches, as conducted in 1981 by psychologists Branthwaite and Cooper. Even placebos benefit from the bonus of stating a name on the tablet and the efforts of effective pharmaceutical marketing.

The emotional bonds of brands

Brands tie emotional bonds with consumers. The rationale of branded consumer products often containing the same components and ingredients as non-branded counterparts is not the point, the point is that it’s about the feeling you experience when you encounter a brand – the ‘intangible sum of a product’s attributes’ as described by the ‘father of advertising’ David Ogilvy.

Now back to pharmaceutical marketing, how is this relevant? Well, despite what many in astute positions within the pharma industry (among other industries) believe about their consumers being different to the rest, not responding to branding and being totally informed and planned in their purchases, they are wrong. All of us, despite where we work or how unsusceptible we think we are to branding and marketing, have our preferences for this logo and that slogan for expensive smartphones, designer clothes, the latest model cars and yes, medicine.

The illusions of informed choices

Professor Antonio Damasio of the University of Southern California concluded in his 1994 book Descartes’ Error that emotion plays a pivotal role in ALL our decisions. It was discovered that individuals with damaged connections between the ‘thinking’ and the ‘emotional’ sides of the brain are often incapable of making decisions, simply because they are unsure of how they feel about a decision. This neurobiology applies to every single one of us as consumers and there is no rational way of controlling it, as it all occurs subconsciously – hardwired into our DNA.

Mundane issues are handled by the rational prefrontal cortex, while complex decisions are tackled by the emotional midbrain dopamine system. In these midbrain occurrences, the rational part of the brain only provides support, looking for evidence to justify emotion-based decisions that have essentially already been made.

The benefits of creative marketing in the pharmaceutical industry

What this really means is that pharmaceutical companies can benefit hugely from creative expression in the craft of their marketing, superseding competitors that choose to dismiss the importance of emotions when choosing pharmaceutical consumer products – which exist to serve the most important and crucial decisions we make – for our health.

For B2B pharmaceutical marketing, it should be remembered that health care professionals are just like the rest of us, open to emotional influences when concerning the power of a brand. It’s a mistake to dismiss concepts as to ‘artistic’ or ‘addy’, opting to dilute them in the belief that creative marketing does not work in the pharma sector. By all means provide the crucial statistics, facts, and figures, but this information about your pharma products and services can be all the more powerful in the eyes of your target audience when marketed creatively and effectively, setting your science organisation apart as uniquely superior to your competitors.

When the products and services you sell can potentially save lives, it could be argued that the pharmaceutical sector is the last marketplace where you want to compromise on an outdated website, tired colour scheme and logo, messy brochure structure or uninteresting financial report layout.

Fresh01 have an extensive wealth of experience in working within the pharmaceutical industry for a range of clients. This includes projects on everything from eLearning to Direct Marketing services. To find out more about these clients click here or to contact us now for more information and an initial consultation with your pharmaceutical organisation to see how we can support your marketing efforts going forward.

List of references

Analgesic effects of branding in treatment of headaches

Descartes’ Error