Mastering Brand Leadership To Reap Product Success


Last week’s post by Cameron Tew, “Why Great Brand Managers are Even Better Leaders,” was about how the best brand team leaders can elicit loyalty and focus from members who come to the product team from various functional teams.

Ultimately, the driving force behind corporate success is the products that companies bring to the marketplace. Since the drugs being sold on the market are the most significant assets these companies own and operate, it is only logical that the way these products are managed should be assessed for risk and evaluated in terms of governance principles.

Thus, brand strategies represent an intricate communication system as well as a complex corporate ecosystem. Clear tasks and objectives are needed or coordination and execution suffer, which leads to stunted brand growth and weakened corporate valuation. This means that most brand management strategies rely on strong leaders who can focus on operational activities. Without consistent management oversight, brand teams can lose focus and stray from core strategies.

Best Practices, LLC, has found that many companies now institute rigorous brand identity and integrity processes to ensure that teams do not lose focus. The creation of marketing processes can elevate the sophistication of the brand management process, but even that may not be enough in today’s evolving health care landscape. Brands are not conventional assets, and no scientific method exists to measure brand management. Instead, it is a complex and highly subjective endeavor that rests on the leadership and management skills of the people overseeing the projects.

To successfully manage their cross-functional teams, brand leaders must manage their stakeholder relationships and decision rights including:

  • Staffing and functional representation for brand teams
  • Brand team operations and responsibilities
  • Meeting frequencies
  • Reporting relationships
  • Performance-based compensation and reviews
  • Brand performance measures

Our research uncovered a number of key tactics that can positively impact branding strategies.

Brand team structure follows a consistent pattern across most pharmaceutical companies, therapeutic areas and drugs.

Most brands teams recognize a core team and an extended team, led by a team leader drawn from the marketing function and reporting to a senior marketing or commercial executive

  • Brand teams representing drugs in earlier (usually pre-launch) stages have greater representation from clinical and R&D areas, and may report to members drawn from these areas
  • Brand teams grow modestly as brands mature (post-launch)
  • As brands grow, many firms supplement brand team capability through shared services arrangements, the particulars of which are rarely driven by the brand
  • Supply chain, manufacturing, customer service and finance, for example, are often provided to the brand team as part of corporate shared services

Variations in size and composition of cross-functional teams are usually in response to company-specific conditions.

  • Companies establish a core brand team with members from such functions as Marketing, Strategy, Managed Care and Medical Affairs. The core brand team usually has as many as 10 members, but at some companies there are as few as three members. These teams focus on strategic matters and guide the primary work and ensure that problems are handled as they arise.
  • When it comes to the larger work that might be needed for a brand’s success, pharma companies create extended brand teams. Such teams can have nearly two dozen members on them from such functions as Sales, Market Research and Manufacturing, among other areas.

Greater meeting frequency is related to work requirements and the need for agility in building branding strategies.

  • Most core brand teams meet frequently; 75 percent meet weekly or bi-weekly
  • Most extended teams meet less frequently; nearly 70 percent meet no more than monthly
  • Greater meeting frequency is related to work requirements and the need for agility in dealing with pressing issues
    • Brand leaders report that frequent core team meetings are needed to manage the work of the extended team and sub-teams, and to deal with the day-to-day work of the brand—preparing for POAs, e.g.—as well as the inevitable fire drills
    • Ongoing strategic efforts for which the brand team has responsibility are usually brought before the larger team to facilitate discussion and communication

Finding the right team members and ensuring that they communicate regularly allows leaders to provide guidance and ensure that the brand does not get lost in the everyday minutiae that prevails at most companies.

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