For many healthcare professionals, the global pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk is intrinsically tied with diabetes care. The brand has been instrumental in innovating care for this increasingly common chronic condition for almost 100 years. While the corporate brand in pharma in the US has typically taken a backseat to the product brand, Novo Nordisk has embraced its corporate identity, a commitment that helped land it in 8th place on InterbrandHealth’s Best Pharma Brands report. In addition to diabetes care, Novo Nordisk also offers therapeutic solutions for rare bleeding disorders, growth hormone-related disorders and obesity.
Nick Adams, Vice President of Corporate Branding at Novo Nordisk, is a brand and marketing strategist with extensive experience in international brand development and implementation. Before joining Novo Nordisk, he spent a decade as a brand consultant working extensively with healthcare, manufacturing and FMCG brands. Adams is responsible for global brand strategy, reputation management, corporate campaigns, digital communications and brand identity.
Adams sat down to answer some questions with Nicole Diamant, Senior Marketing Manager for InterbrandHealth.
Nicole Diamant: Nick, we had a chance to meet when Best Pharma Brands launched earlier this year and Novo Nordisk placed at No. 8. Why do you think the brand resonates so strongly with healthcare professionals? What are the brand investments you and your team have made to ensure the strength of the corporate brand?
Nick Adams: A key part of why we have such a strong brand is the more than 90 years of history we have within diabetes. Today we are a world leader in diabetes care and supply half the world’s insulin, with more than 26 million people using our diabetes care products.
However, we also know that to defeat diabetes and ultimately find a cure, we need to do more than supply the right medicine. With our Changing Diabetes® commitment and brand platform, we are working to find sustainable solutions to tackling the diabetes challenge in partnerships with patients, policymakers, healthcare professionals and NGOs.
I believe it is this patient focus, a commitment beyond products and doing business in a financially, socially and environmentally responsible way that resonates very well with our stakeholders, including healthcare professionals.
Diamant: One of the things the survey uncovered was the high recognition and perceived value of Novo Nordisk as a leader in diabetes care. What’s your strategy for increasing awareness of your other products and services?
Adams: Our heritage and leadership within diabetes has given us the experience and capabilities that also enables us to help people defeat other serious conditions: haemophilia, growth disorders and obesity. This is an important aspect of how we communicate about Novo Nordisk, across therapy areas.
To manage and align our corporate brand communications across the global organisation, we make sure our company purpose, “Driving change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic conditions” is very clear in all communication, both on a corporate and product level. We make sure all communicators in our company know our core story and alongside the brand platform Changing Diabetes we also have a Changing Haemophilia™ brand platform for our haemophilia franchise and Life-Changing Careers™ to frame our work of attracting potential employees.
To keep our corporate brand relevant and up to date, we also continuously track our reputation and brand leadership among key stakeholders to inform our actions and communications.
Diamant: Like many global pharmaceutical companies, Novo Nordisk has a strong presence both in the US and in Europe. How do you think and strategize about corporate brand versus product brand when considering different geographical regions and populations?
Adams: Our approach to corporate communications and branding has always been to view Novo Nordisk as a branded house, not a house of brands. This means the messaging and visual identity across corporate and product brands is very much aligned. We have a strong brand management system in place, including visual identity guidelines clearly describing how product promotional campaigns have to be framed in order to live up to Novo Nordisk design guidelines.
We have global boards approving corporate communication strategies, visual identities for corporate and product campaigns. As a very basic example, yet still very important, for instance we always ensure the Novo Nordisk logo is on every product promotional piece—making sure that the story of our company comes across strongly in our product communication.
Diamant: As you mentioned, you recently launched a new platform, Changing Diabetes, and with it, a number of initiatives to help address this growing health crisis. Tell me more about the program and what you ultimately hope to achieve, and why it’s an important pillar for the Novo Nordisk brand.
Adams: Changing Diabetes, our corporate brand platform within diabetes, is actually not new. It has existed since 2005 and was launched to more clearly communicate our focus within diabetes at a time where we needed to differentiate. The strategy behind Changing Diabetes was recently updated, putting emphasis on three areas: ensuring that people with diabetes are diagnosed earlier, receive better care and that diabetes is tackled in cities.
— Novo Nordisk Live (@NovoNordiskLive) September 14, 2016
Examples of key Changing Diabetes initiatives are the public-private partnership “Cities Changing Diabetes” program that aims to address the rise of type 2 diabetes in urban areas, where the two-thirds of people with diabetes live today. Team Novo Nordisk is a global all-diabetes sports team of cyclists, triathletes and runners whose mission it is to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes, by showing what may be possible with diabetes and encourage those affected by diabetes to pursue their dreams.
— Novo Nordisk (@novonordisk) September 13, 2016
On the back of the renewed Changing Diabetes strategy, we launched a campaign shown for the first time at the medical congress EASD in September in which we present Novo Nordisk’s perspective on diabetes and invite other perspectives on what it takes to truly change diabetes. The campaign is currently running on our social media channels across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn (hashtag: #ChangingDiabetes). For the remainder of the year our social media activities will be centred around our large risk assessment campaign for World Diabetes Day on November 14.
Diamant: In January, you will have a new CEO leading Novo Nordisk into the future. What growth do you hope to see for both the business and the brand in the coming years?
Adams: Lars Rebien Sørensen has obviously left a huge mark on Novo Nordisk as he has led the company from being a small pharma company into being a true global player. With the announcement of Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen as his replacement, the board has chosen a person who has worked in Novo Nordisk for 25 years and embodies the “Novo Nordisk Way.” I am sure our new CEO will continue to build our brand on the foundation of our strong company culture, which is a unique differentiator for us.