Blog | The Naming Lab

Our Vision – An Artistic Renaissance


A turnaround in pharmaceutical naming

If you could imagine an ideal transformation in today’s pharmaceutical naming framework, what would you dream up?

…IP offices would cancel unused trademarks after 5 years.
…Regulators would be open to accepting two-word drug names.
…Pharmaceutical companies would shift from global to local brands.

Unfortunately, we do not believe that key industry players will reshape the naming space this way in the foreseeable future.

So could brand developers pick up the challenge?

“Trial and error” would be an intuitive way to seek name viability, but is it sustainable?

A “step-by-step” adaptation to legal and regulatory constraints …might be more promising.

But beyond viability…What about creative niche opportunities in brand development?

The abstract art connection

In the 19th century, so much representational art was being produced that little room was left for original expression. This is when abstract art emerged… as painters, looking for more creative opportunities, sought to escape from the overcrowded confines of verisimilitude.

They broke the rules of art searching for innovative ways to express themselves and portray the fundamental changes taking place around them. And in so doing, they developed some entirely new genres in the depiction of visual experience.

In the early years, abstract art did indeed puzzle and confuse many people, but as these new styles were incorporated into our visual idiom, viewers gradually found ways to relate to the non-representational art works. These days, as abstraction continues to provide ever-new forms of artistic expression, it has become prevalent, almost familiar.

The emergence of abstract names

In the art world of 1910, Wassily Kandinsky was one of the first modern artists to paint purely abstract pictures showing no recognizable sources of inspiration.

In the branding world of 1888, George Eastman created the first purely abstract brand, Kodak®.

Today it seems that the pharmaceutical naming lifecycle has reached the same stage as the art movement did, just a century ago … with meaningful and slightly evocative brand names overcrowding the space. If we are asked to create original, distinctive and viable names, we must escape from the confines of “meaningfulness” and explore the niche opportunities in “abstractness”.

No doubt…Abstract names have great value in branding because they enter the arena as pristine perceptual packages with no distracting baggage. As unique, never-before seen pieces of language, they can echo their intended purposes and they can travel across linguistic boundaries, with the power to trigger universal appeal.

Toward a renaissance in naming

So today, when pharmaceutical marketers begin a global branding journey, they may wish to rethink their preconceptions, review their expectations about a “rational” branding concept – and prepare to mobilize their senses around a more instinctive and natural approach like a “perceptual” branding concept.

…Because the traditional namespace is finite, marketers will necessarily find themselves adopting more and more encoded and abstract names – names with a higher potential to survive – that rely primarily on visual, verbal and emotional impact to seduce.

We see the future pharmaceutical naming paradigm as an alchemy of science and art…
…A subtle harmony between an internal integrated system and an outward artistic expression.