The Importance of Timing in Pharmaceutical Brand Naming

Bringing a drug to market in the healthcare world is a marathon and a sprint. One integral part of that race is naming. First a code name, then a nonproprietary name and ultimately a Brand Name, which is key as it needs to be ownable from a trademark standpoint, approvable from a regulatory perspective, as well as marketable.

Timing is critical to handle each of these hurdles related to brand naming. When should you start the brand name development process? There is no one size fits all answer, but planning for success starts 2-3 years prior to filing. When companies are looking for a US-only based name, the recommendation is to start at least 20 months prior to your most aggressive filing. This allows space to explore strategic naming and messaging opportunities, clear potential trademark obstacles, and have one name reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the Investigational Drug Application (IND). If a company is looking to launch in Europe, Canada, AsiaPac, LATAM or other key regions, we recommend starting 26-32 months prior to filing based on your geographic plans. Each region has its own health authorities and trademark application processes that need to be addressed early to ensure a global name.

When thinking of the overall brand plan – starting early not only addresses the legal and regulatory hurdles but it allows for strategic naming tactics as well. What naming convention is right? Where are competitors in the process? Is there a new mechanism of action to include in the name? Does the nonproprietary name have equity and awareness to be explored? All these concepts are pieces of the brand name puzzle.

At Brand Institute, we support our clients on the path to developing a great brand name. Its never too early to discuss timing and map out what the next few years will look like. If you are in the 2–4-year window and would like to learn more, we can provide customized timing scenarios based on your needs. We will ensure that you have a great brand name as you cross the finish line of bringing your drug to market.

By Courtney Kilroy