Top 5 Hurdles Towards Successful Global Pharmaceutical Naming


With the increasingly crowded pharmaceutical space, one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome in proprietary drug naming is approval by the various global regulatory agencies. It’s important to identify your regulatory strategy early and partner with a branding agency that is able to accommodate all submission requirements to position your brand name for success.

One of the primary ways to overcome this hurdle is to ensure that all your names undergo regulatory prescreening in the creative phase to uncover obvious sound-alike, look-alike conflicts, potential to be over promotional, use of a USAN or INN stems or any problematic medical terminology or abbreviations. This must occur before you take names into safety testing, so you don’t waste valuable time on names with no chance of making it through regulatory review.

Secondly, ensure that you partner with a proven name safety agency that will utilize the appropriate name safety steps for your target regions. Not only through rigorous review by licensed pharmacists and regulatory experts, but also through targeted, sequential name safety surveys.


Trademark prescreening is also one of the most important steps in vetting your names. Names should be reviewed through a verified legal screening platform in the creative stage, again, it’s important to do this early on so that you don’t move forward with clearly problematic name options. Make sure your names are being reviewed by experienced trademark professionals who will share their prescreening results and rationale so that you can make an informed decision as you begin to pare names.


We’ve all heard the horror stories of brands that were not vetted early on by professional linguists. Make sure that you’re taking this important step as you pare down names – assessing name options for any direct meaning, negative connotation, pronunciation, visual or phonetic similarity, and product or brand association in your target regions.


During the name safety testing, you should also evaluate your top names with key audiences to ensure that they strategically communicate your brand messaging and associations. Some tried and true metrics include but are not limited to – overall impression, distinctiveness, ease of pronunciation, and favorite choice.


This step is something that can be easily conquered but very problematic if it’s not properly executed. You want to ensure that you are involving key stakeholders throughout the process. Even though a smaller project team is ideal to make decisions and provide feedback during the creative review stage, there are several other stages in the process where it is recommended to involve a larger group at your company to achieve internal buy-in and excitement on the final names.

The first is the kickoff meeting. This interactive meeting is instrumental in ensuring the overall success of your naming project. Gathering the most relevant information and targeting the optimal brand attributes to explore is vital and, after the meeting, should be summarized in a comprehensive strategy document that is signed off by the core team before any name generation. Having a larger team involved in this first step not only generates excitement for your new brand name but also creates awareness for the process and team consensus on the creative direction.

The second is an internal survey that runs in parallel to initial safety testing and linguistics evaluation to pare down name candidates to take into further testing. This strategic survey should be 15 minutes or less to avoid survey fatigue and should be created to uncover optimal insights into the names from a larger group at your company which may include breakouts such as c-suite, scientists, marketing, etc. to provide additional insights.