Brand plans are crucial in the pharmaceutical industry to align teams around a common strategy.

Making sure everyone inside the company agrees and knows what is going on in the market, understanding your clients and figuring out the big challenges you need to tackle and how to tackle them are crucial steps when writing your brand plan.

But nothing crucial can be done easily. Each of these steps present several challenges that need to be considered to design a sustainable brand plan that meets your clients’ needs (HCPs, HCOs, patients …).

Nowadays, when people talk about overcoming challenges quickly, they often think of using AI (Artificial Intelligence).

“The most common reason organizations are interested in AI is to create more personalized interactions, but nearly three-fourths of respondents rank automating tasks to improve productivity as a top driver and nearly two-thirds say the same for improving security.”

- Applications of AI in Health & Life Sciences 2024 Report, Forrester, Salesforce 1

Nevertheless, it's important to remember that while AI can enhance strategies, human creativity, and intuition still play an important role. Balancing the power of technology with human expertise allows to create compelling campaigns that resonate with customers on a deeper level.

What are the four crucial steps to writing a brand plan?

1. Master the current market & trends

All teams (finance, marketing, sales, medical, business analysts, market access, regulatory…) need to be aligned to establish a clear and shared brand vision. They also need to gain in-depth understanding of the brand ecosystem, current market, competitor trends, patient needs, patient pathways, and regulatory scrutiny to build a strategy that reflects the reality.

Main challenges faced:

  • Data analysis for market and competition understanding can be overwhelming due to data volumes and multiple sources;
  • Data collection and analysis is time-consuming and complex;
  • Evolving pharmaceutical regulations necessitate specialized compliance expertise and high vigilance.

2. Unlock client insights & identify strategic challenges

Gathering clients’ insights (HCPs, HCOs, patients …) from available data is crucial when building a brand plan. It helps identify the strategic challenges facing the brand. By understanding customer preferences and behaviors, it is possible to segment them and personalize sales, distribution, communication strategies and adopt a customer-centric approach. A clear understanding of the client/patient journey enables the design of more effective marketing and sales strategies. Not to forget integrating medical, regulatory and market access strategy into the brand plan to ensure sustained market growth.

Main challenges faced:

  • One of the top challenges for business leaders is finding ways to extract insights from their data;
  • Teams spend lots of time understanding customer preferences, establishing competitive positioning and developing segmentation strategies, as segmentations can quickly become obsolete if they are not specific;
  • Understanding client/patient journey is complex due to the diversity of paths individuals can take: each client/patient may have unique needs and behaviors that shape their journey.

3. Transform strategic objectives into actionable tactics

Developing actionable tactics involves designing a cross-functional portfolio of innovative projects aligned with a differentiating value proposition. Key projects are defined per strategic challenge, with clear details on timings, resources, and KPIs. Each aspect of the plan (commercial, marketing & digital, medical, distribution…) requires specific tactics such as sales training, campaign design, advertising, content generation, stakeholder engagement, commercial & pricing policy or referencing (e.g., innovative solutions, patient pathways services to bridge hospitals & pharmacies …) to provide customers with a unified omnichannel experience across all touchpoints.

Main challenges faced:

  • Markets, technologies, and customer preferences are constantly evolving, requiring contents to be adaptable and flexible to changes;
  • Providing customers with a unified omnichannel experience across all touchpoints requires integration and consistency in messaging, branding, and customer interactions;
  • Engaging stakeholders requires effective communication, negotiation, and relationship skills.

“By 2026, 80% of senior creative roles will be tasked with harnessing GenAI to differentiate their brand.” 3

4. Monitor brand plan projects with precision

Effective communication ensures that all internal stakeholders are aligned with project goals and informed about progress, challenges, and changes throughout the brand plan lifecycle. Following up on key project indicators, through dashboards monitoring analytics, actions, deliverables, and risks, provides insights into the project's progress and allows for mitigation or decision-making.

Main challenges faced:

  • Identifying relevant indicators (KPIs) and tracking progress of brand plan projects can be challenging, especially for long-term initiatives;
  • Brand plan projects may undergo changes in scope, objectives, or resources during implementation. Managing these changes requires anticipation and planning;
  • Brand plan projects involve collaboration among various departments. Coordinating efforts, breaking silos and ensuring alignment can be challenging, especially when teams have different priorities and timelines.

Building a successful pharmaceutical brand plan requires innovation, collaboration, and adaptability. One of the main challenges is also balancing between global strategies and local adaptations needed to meet the specific needs of local markets.

Implementing AI in this process also presents its own set of challenges: changing people’s mindset around AI as a tool for automating their recurring tasks rather than replacing them; upskilling people; making sure the data is ready and controlled properly by redefining data quality & governance; ensuring the AI systems work smoothly in the day-to-day tasks.

Figure 1: The four crucial steps to writing a pharma brand plan

“56% of customers expect companies to increasingly use AI to improve customer relations.”

- Podium de la Relation Client, 2024 Edition, BearingPoint x Kantar Study 4