Except that the tube will look the same in Brussels, Jakarta and Timbuktu. Elidel is a global brand. And the worldwide similarities don’t stop at colors, logo and name. Novartis has instigated a new methodology for its launch products that ensures that all aspects of branding remain consistent in all markets, while marketing campaigns are targeted towards local audiences.
“We looked at our pipeline and felt that our products in development had global potential,” said Andrew Kay, Novartis’s head of global marketing and sales. “Our thinking was stimulated by our pipeline. We took a step back and realized there’s a lot of value in a brand. Two years ago we decided we didn’t just want to talk about global branding, but deliver on it.”
It was time to look beyond the strange world that is pharmaceuticals. Time to take some lessons from fast-moving consumer goods. “We brought in experts from the outside and looked at brands like Coca-Cola, Nike and McDonald’s and we learned a lot of interesting lessons,” admitted Kay, who has hired executives from companies like Pepsi, Procter & Gamble and Ford. “We learned that Coca-Cola Lite is called Diet Coke in some countries. The Big Mac is the Cheeseburger Royal in Switzerland.”
The secret, Kay revealed, is to have global branding with local campaigning. Just as McDonald’s can add local variations to its global menus (chow mein in China, beer in Belgium), Novartis adapts its marketing while preserving brand identity. “The brand colors, style, vocabulary and messages are consistent across markets,” said Kay. “The campaigns are different.
First, the Elidel brand. Its values stem from considerable, naturally global, market research—the gelled views of 5,000 physicians, parents and children. These views are central to the brand’s core values and its expression. “From these insights you get not just the functional benefits that people want, but the emotional side too. With Elidel there were lots of psychological aspects like how eczema itching causes a loss of sleep and visible skin patches cause a loss of self-esteem.
“The tone and emotion was that Elidel should get patients back to everyday life – and this was surprisingly similar everywhere. This is the core emotional need. The secret of global branding is to retain this core position and message.”
The market research also revealed that patients want to prevent flare-ups, treat itching and use the cream on their face and neck, delicate areas where topical steroids are not recommended. The packaging and logo intend to portray these values, balancing safety and efficacy. According to the brand managers, “The healing yellow is a soothing, calming color that complements and adds warmth to the powerful, high-tech tone of the power blue.”
Of course, you can read anything into colors and logos. Can anyone really look at the graphics and appreciate that “Elidel effectively controls atopic eczema and uniquely prevents flare progression to improve quality of life” or that “the logo is also meant to communicate that Elidel offers a skin-selective mechanism of action for a favorable safety and tolerability profile”?
The brand managers argue that the colors and graphics retain the core position and message of the brand. They say that the yellow-leaf icon depicts three layers of skin with Elidel, symbolized by the blue dot, targeting the upper layers.
The marketing materials sent to doctors (and no doubt the direct-to-consumer campaigns set to run in the US), however, are less ambiguous. In the US, literature for physicians introduces the cream with a question: “Looking for steroid-free eczema control?”
It targets a key audience. All eczema sufferers know about steroidal creams; if a cream is steroid-free it begs the question “Can I use it safely on my face?” The picture of a pre-school child in pajamas reinforces the concept of softness and comfort (as well as identifying that the cream can be used on children as young as two).
And then there is the suggestion of control. The key emotional aspect of the brand hopes to shine through in one simple word: control. Getting patients back to everyday life, giving them freedom to feel normal.
Elidel was launched in the US in February 2002. Within six weeks it had overtaken branded exzema products including Fujisawa’s product Protopic. Today Elidel has three times this competitor’s market share.
“I’d argue that the branding and positioning have been key to Elidel’s success,” said Kay. “We may be lucky at Novartis because we have strong innovative products. But we’ve studied how branding fits in and we’ve created an environment where it is applied globally. Now we’re seeing results.”