Part 2: The Human Element- Unleashing the Power of Branding in the Age of AI

A Case Study In Emotional Brand Naming (Pharmaceutical) 

In a world forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the global impact has been profound, introducing unprecedented uncertainty to healthcare. Pharmaceutical companies hurried to develop vaccines and tests, but they faced difficult challenges navigating regulatory approval hurdles and the urgency of the situation. Similarly, the brand name creation process for these pharmaceuticals was uniquely challenging.

The Emotional Toll:

The pandemic sent waves of anxiety and fear rippling across the globe. According to a December 2020 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53% of adults in the United States revealed that their mental health had been adversely impacted by pandemic-induced stress. These statistics underscore the immense emotional strain the pandemic has exerted on people worldwide.

Regulatory Complexities:

Developing and naming vaccines during a global crisis presented an array of regulatory challenges. The race to fast-track vaccines demanded names that would be readily approved by the FDA and other global regulatory agencies as safe for consumers and free from potential confusion. Reduced development timelines, left little room for backup name submission. Regulatory compliance took center stage, adding a layer of complexity to an already arduous process.

When it comes to naming pharmaceuticals, creating brand names with human connections is a far too often lost art. Even in this highly regulated industry, where obtaining FDA name approval is increasingly difficult, there is still much room and benefit to connecting with consumers with a clear and compelling brand identity.


Let’s delve into the emotional resonance of two COVID-19 vaccine brand names – COVIFENZ and SPIKEVAX – and their strategies for connection with audiences.

When contemplating attributes for a COVID-19 vaccine brand name, several emotional elements may come into play:

  • Protection: Does the name provide individuals with a sense of security?
  • Clarity: Is the name easily comprehended and relatable to the vaccine’s purpose?
  • Confidence: Does the name evoke positivity and optimism in its effectiveness?
  • Precision: Does the name promote a feeling of precision in usefulness

COVIFENZ melds “COVID” and “defense,” creating a clear understanding of purpose and link to the target disease. This brand name also invokes a sense of protection and confidence in its purpose. This fusion not only conveys the vaccine’s purpose but also establishes an emotional connection, offering individuals a trusted guard or protector in the ongoing battle against the pandemic.

SPIKEVAX, a two-syllable name, marries “spike” (in reference to the coronavirus’ spike protein) and “vax” (a shorthand for vaccine). Its simplicity and succinctness render its purpose, serving as a relevant and straightforward representation of the vaccine’s objective.

Share your insights! Which of the two brand names – COVIFENZ or SPIKEVAX – do you believe best aligns with the most important emotional attributes vital for a COVID-19 vaccine? Cast your vote below!

In the realm of pharmaceutical branding, the emotional bond that a name establishes with its audience can be as crucial as its functional attributes. This case study underscores the opportunity for contextualization and the intricate complexities of human emotion in brand naming, even in an industry where brand creation is highly regulated.

In Part III of this series, we will explore the dynamic synergy of AI in robust brand strategies, a potent combination for crafting even more resonant and powerful brand names and trademarks.

Explore Other Parts in This Series:

PART I: The Role of Human Emotion in Branding

PART II: Case Studies In Emotional Branding

PART III: The Partnership Between Namers & AI