Health & pharma naming

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Read our Pharma Naming News blog here.

When a molecule becomes a brand

While proprietary medicinal products used to have a high degree of in-crowd names and language, cultivated by the pharma industry and medical specialists as their domain of expertise, today pharma has become a brand dependent industry. Moreover, this dependent industry is owned by the public, debated by the media, commented on by patients and caregivers on internet and requested by name in general practitioners’ surgeries.

These developments have created a necessary paradigm shift in how healthcare companies should approach the concept of brand development.

The need to engage with the end-user has caused companies to rise to the challenge of speaking the patient’s language as much as the prescriber’s language, ultimately resulting in a new way of pharma and health branding to create a relationship with both prescribers and patients.

A good balanced brand name has therefore become a strategic tool in the communication of the product and has come to be recognized as a powerful wealth creator by the pharmaceutical industry.

As pipelines produce more diminished returns and as generics prove an ever-greater force to be reckoned with, one of the fundamental challenges for the pharma industry is making the important transition from the current model of profit maximization before product obsolescence, to one of brand maximization to prevent obsolescence.

This calls for a radical reassessment of the value of brands within the industry and a rethink of how brands are developed, managed and maximized.

The patient is more concerned with what a drug can do for them than how a drug works. Therefore, brand names should be more benefit-oriented, communicative and relevant to a wider set of target audiences.

Globrands health&pharma delivers evocative and memorable names, executed in a manner that differentiates your product from the competitive landscape.

Globrands works on the creative name development for hundreds of brand names every year, with clients ranging from the world’s largest multi-national companies to start-up companies with only one product in the pipeline.

A crowded trademark class

A name for a new drug is subject to a level of scrutiny unknown in any other industry. Any brand name for a pharmaceutical or healthcare product has to be cleared and registered in Class 5, notoriously one of the most crowded trademark classes:

    • Every month, an average of 1,000 names are filed in Class 5 at the USPTO;
    • No fewer than 663,000 registered trademarks exist in Class 5 in the EU alone.

Once a shortlist of names has navigated the legal labyrinth successfully, applications to file should be made to afford the requisite protection of those marks.

Why 35% of submitted pharma names are rejected

Data from the American FDA and the European EMA indicate that approximately 35 percent of names submitted for approval are met with rejection. This very high percentage clearly shows how serious the matter is, as well as the matter of the saturation of approved brand registrations. Regulators follow a very strict control of possible errors and, therefore, tend to watch the whole chain of use (from storage, purchase or prescription to use or final effects).

One of the reasons for the high rejection rate is that a name can be a matter of life and death. Seemingly innocuous interchanges of names have resulted in temporary harm, permanent harm, patient hospitalization and, in some cases, ultimately, in death. Rejection is therefore largely down to the potential of confusion with other brand names and thus, the resulting risk of dispensing errors and misprescription.

Application requirements

In order to avoid those problems related to availability and safety, the FDA recommends to present 3 names in the application so that the regulator can make sure he has an acceptable one, which does not hinder commercial plans or puts a people’s health at risk.

Pharmaceutical naming needs specific treatment, as it is a matter of capital importance, which requires knowledge, experience and effective tools. Besides, the naming team has to work in perfect coordination with the legal, medical, marketing and pharmaceutical team developing it.

Generics becoming brands

There is also another aspect emerging, being that the generics themselves will become brands with time. This change has already occurred in FMCG – if you look at private label brands such as Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the difference’ or Albert Heijn’s ‘Excellent’. (And taking the case of Tesco, private label now accounts for 50% of their income.) Consumers understand this shift in FMCG, so why should they be any less receptive when it comes to pharma?

The brand as key differentiator

The end of drug patents also introduces complexity for brands with the rapid emergence of competition, who can deliver the same performance as the brands but cheaper. Taking the product formulation out of the equation, what is left? The remaining key differentiators are the brand name and personality. In addition, brand resonance is the key to keep valuable connections and reasons-to-believe with the consumer.

However, this is not a future scenario and given that this is happening as we speak you could also argue that for most brands the gate has closed for them to ramp up their brand expression as a rearguard action against the new copycats.

The competition of the future no longer takes place between different products and services. The competition takes place between the values built into names. Many names are worth much more than the product itself.

Therefore, it pays to develop a better product, as well as developing a stronger name the can make the product successful and longer lasting than the patent does.

There are many places where you can see if a domain name is still available. However, most of them are checked by third parties that keep track of your domain name queries and quickly register them as soon as you show more than normal interest in one.

A safe place to check domain name availability is

All names Globrands presents to clients are pre-checked for all relevant domain extensions, preventing unnecessary disappointments.

search words in a domain name

Clients quite often ask for a brand or domain name that contains their most important keywords, so that they will be found easily.

There are drawbacks to this strategy: keywords don not tend to make for great, distinguishing and easy to remember brand names. Also, brand names that consist of descriptive terms tend to be harder to claim and defend as trademarks.

Moreover, search engines take a lot more into account besides the domain name, so in order to be found by search engines, good brand naming provides more ways to be found online, which quite often are better than just using keywords in the brand.

This is not to say that one should always avoid focusing on having keywords in a brand name. Please contact us for more information.

Good research is characterized by asking the right questions – which are not always obvious in brand naming.

trademark research

In most cases, trademark research is a crucial part of a brand naming process. The central question is: does the new name cause confusion with existing brands? Read more here.

availability of domain names

Where can you check domain names without them being hijacked? Do you really have to have that domain name with that major keyword in it, or are there better solutions? Read more here.

linguistic research

Globrands has a worldwide test panel to test new names for right (and wrong) associations quickly and effectively. In addition, we make use of our excellent relationships within the Global Naming Network for creativity and a balanced judgment.

consumer research

If you test names for product concepts, you easily get results that do not match how the names would work in practice. This is because a good name in reality evokes no questions about the name itself, while that is exactly what a name test does. Therefore, setting up a good brand name test is an art. Please contact us for more information.

brand portfolio analysis

Is the existing naming in your brand portfolio logical? Does it ensure maximum consistency between brands, and mutual reinforcement? Our advice leads to an optimal brand architecture with minimal resources. Please contact us for more information.

business survey

In some cases, generating support for a new name is of particular importance. A company survey is one tool for that, but there are more possibilities.

When a new brand is born out of several established ones, this offers good possibilities for a company name that is strong and telling from the beginning.

Brand naming is an inspiring and motivating process that provides a focal point while building a new brand identity.

the dynamics of a merger

Each merger is different and has its own dynamics. The best way to involve management and employees varies, as well as the measure of consensus about the direction.


We can develop a name straight from a briefing and aim the decision process at acceptation by central stakeholders. However, since a merger affects everyone in an organization, we can also provide several ways to make use of creativity present among employees and generate support for new naming.

Our broad experience allows us to get the optimal result in every situation and make sure that the new name provides a solid foundation for the new brand identity. Read more about organising support for a new name.


Name development cannot be seen separately from trademark and trade name rights. Brands are among the most important assets of a company; in a communicative and economic sense, but also as intellectual property.

Globrands works mostly with Matchmark, the in-house trademark office, but also with offices like Novagraaf and Chiever. If the client prefers working with other trademark attorneys, that is possible too.

identical brand names

Before each name presentation, the trademark office makes an initial screening of all name proposals on relevant identical brand names in selected countries.

similar brand names

After selection of a shortlist, the remaining alternatives are examined as extensively as necessary for similar brand names and trademark registrations in all relevant records. After the selection of the final name, it is registered in the relevant trade mark registers.

A brand consists of many elements, of which the name is only one. Examples of brand elements are the brand promise, the products or services that are delivered, design, language, web content, campaigns, and so on. These elements should be well aligned.

the name is closely related to the brand identity

The name is the most invariable element of a brand. This means that the name has to cover the the brand immediately, but also on the long term. The communication of a new brand is different from the communication that takes place once the brand has become established. A good name can remain the basis, while the conditions change.

brand positioning

A brand exists because it has a distinct edge over other brands. This can be achieved in several ways. The function of the name is to convey the difference. Therefore, in addition to naming, Globrands is strong at helping develop a good brand positioning.

brand architecture and name portfolio

A brand name interacts with other names from its own brand portfolio. It gives meaning to the mother brand and other brands in the same product range. A brand portfolio is actually an interrelated family of brand names.


Clients often turn to Globrands because their brand has become too limited due to its name or its positioning. A name that worked 10 years ago, may no longer be adequate. This could be because it is not suitable for international use, or because the product offerings are starting to fall beyond the scope of the name. Globrands offers solutions where the right changes are made, while retaining as much of the brand’s carefully built value as possible.

Thanks to our partners in the Global Naming Network (GNN), Globrands has access to creative and cultural naming expertise around the world.

GNN is the world’s leading network of independent naming consultants, with offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia. By bringing together naming partners who are natives in the countries in which they operate, we create distinctive, culturally relevant, and legally available names that effectively target customers anywhere in the world.

Besides Globrands in Amsterdam, the following agencies are affiliated with GNN:

How do you come up with a business name? Where does a product name come from? Previously, brand names were the names of the brand’s founders, or they described the product supplied. Nowadays, brand names are seen as a means to convey what the brand intends to promise in the long-term, which may be something concrete, or rather a feeling.

Brand positioning

Naming starts with the brand positioning. What is the promise? What makes it distinctive? And how can you convey that in the name? How does the new name relate to existing names, like other brands owned by the client and names used by the competition?

Once that is clear, our creatives think of ways to articulate that promise and then come with hundreds of names, each of which relates to it in its own way. We get our inspiration from identifying with the people who will eventually use the brand name and imagining what the new brand may mean to them. We look at names of brands with comparable brand promises in totally different markets, we tell ourselves many variations of the brand story and think about what title it could have. From these proposals, our team makes selections while finding new entries for new creation rounds.

This way, we create name lists of sufficient quality, volume and variety to make the underlying choices visible to our client, and ensure him of a good name.

Take inspiration from this site

On this site there are numerous cases that let you find out more about the possibilities of brand naming.

If you want to know more about the naming process, please click here.

Coupled with the brand name, the tagline gives extra depth to the brand positioning. It reflects the brand’s content and emphasizes the main message.

Especially for taglines meant to express the brand’s identity, Globrands is the appropriate agency.

Below are some of our cases.

Sometimes, instead of a new brand name, a suitable category denominator is required. A new brand with an evocative name may need one, in order to tell the market explicitly what the brand stands for.

It can serve to refer to a new, unknown concept in a way that is immediately clear, like ‘foodcafé’ (Amstel) and ‘CoffeePad’ (Philips/DE).

It can be used as an addition bringing clarity to a name that has to be rather abstract for strategic reasons, like ‘GreenParks’ in Landal GreenParks.

Often, these denominators serve to bring clarity about specific options in a broader product offering, for example when dealing with tariff structures (Basic, Easy, Extra).

The best product names make the products stand out in their own distinctive way. Investing time in developing the best product name saves companies a significant amount of resources in future communications.

We have developed countless product names, such as Actimel, Prevalin, Senseo, and Thalys.

daily use

For daily use, the best product names are not just practical and deliver a message, but they are also interesting and enticing: They are for easy use everywhere. From an agenda, to being jotted on the back of your hand. For the radio, a store shelve or even a business magazine.


Moreover, the choice for a product name is a strategic one. The name influences how a brand may develop in the future.


Product names add meaning to the supplier’s brand. They also interact with other brands, both from the same brand portfolio and from other suppliers.

This context often provides interesting opportunities to maximize the effectiveness of your communication while using a minimum of language.

This website offers a wealth of examples, inspiration, and information about our approach.

Sometimes a name is needed so quickly that we have to pack the whole process into one workshop where we search for the best name in just a few hours, together with the client. We call this the NameStorm.


  • quick
  • inexpensive
  • pragmatic
  • efficient

Not suitable for more complicated projects, for instance:

  • if a profound analysis of the brand identity, positioning or strategy is needed
  • for brands with a wide scope, either geographically or in terms of what is being offered
  • names that need to be registered as a .com name
  • corporate naming, where internal feedback and consultation play an important role
  • when the final decision maker cannot be present.

The NameStorm is an efficient creation method, which is targeted specifically at naming. By combining Globrands’ knowledge and experience with the creative potential of you and your colleagues, the costs can be kept to a minimum.

It is led by three of our people: a consultant and three naming creatives. The consultant has years of experience with brand strategy, brand law and linguistic aspects of naming. The naming creatives are specialised inventors of brand names who also have years of experience at Globrands. They give tips and techniques for creating names during the workshop, and will of course propose countless names and naming strategies themselves.

From you, the NameStorm requires participation of 2 to 6 people and some substantial preparation. This is done using a questionnaire we provide that helps you formulate the principles and guidelines for naming your new brand. During the session, a brand lawyer is stand by, in order to check names that make a serious chance directly for juridical and domain name availability.

Guided by the first checks, we define a shortlist which will be subject to a more detailed juridical investigation in the relevant trade mark registers. Based on the outcome and our recommendations, a definitive choice can be made and registered within 3 days after the workshop, if needed.


The first contact with an online brand is usually through search engines and social media. There, the name represents the brand, without design and with minimal context. This means that the name has to make the connection.

The art lies in finding the right balance between clarity and emotion, distinctiveness and findability, based on the brand strategy.

online brand identity

On the web, the brand name, the domain name, the titles of web pages and the text headers interact with each other. Together, they contribute to the online identity. Therefore, it can be wise to accompany name development with keyword analysis and content strategy. For that, we work with online marketing agencies.

How do you find a name that works without problems in multiple languages? Globrands has decades of experience in the development of powerful names for worldwide brands that create the right expectations among people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Global Naming Network

We are able to do so because we are part of the Global Naming Network, a collaboration of brand naming experts around the world.

mixture of languages

The Dutch history and geography has always inspired the people to work together with cultures all around the world. The Dutch language itself is basically a mixture of German, English, Latin and Nordic languages.


We work with agencies specializing in international linguistic research. This makes sure that we really are conveying the message we want to convey, and also avoid blunders.

Below are a number of cases.

As the leading brand name specialist in Europe, Globrands has created a range of inspiring, well-known brand names, such as Senseo, Actimel and Thalys. Among the international company names we have developed are Equens, Currence, and Oaklins. This website contains information on how we develop such company names.

an inspiring company name provides direction and paves ways

Your company’s perspectives for the long term are strongly determined by its name. It stands for both today’s and future products and services and conveys its brand personality and reason it exists. The name may have to work in future markets, or foreign countries.

selecting the right name for a company

The best business names evoke the right expectations about the vision and qualities of the companies they refer to, not only in an emotional, rational and external way, but also to their own employees. They inspire, and form the basis for all further communications.

For large organisations, the selection procedure can be particularly important – for instance, if internal support for the new name requires special attention. This can be the case when the new name is required because of a merger.

juridical requirements

The trick is to formulate the message that the name should convey in language that can be owned. It is not possible to register a trademark if the name only literally describes what is offered. Neither is it allowed to use a name that could be mistaken for the name of a company that provides something similar. Here you can read more about trademark law.

brand name creation

This website provides more brand naming examplesinspiration and information about our approach.

In order to agree with multiple parties about one name, a structured approach is needed.

Globrands’ approach brings clarity:

  • We work in steps from broad to focused sessions.
  • Final decision makers are involved from the beginning.
  • This creates room for shared, relevant criteria.
  • The result is a powerful name, which is easily accepted within the organisation.

Support is not necessarily obtained by letting many people participate in a decision, but rather by creating a clear procedure with room for interaction. This way, it will be accepted when a group of responsible delegates makes an understandable choice. Globrands has experience with many ways to shape the process.

input from the organisation

A new name may affect many people in the organisation. Sometimes, it is important to recognise the employees herein and to use their knowledge and creativity. By the use of an online survey (with questions such as: what values do you find important in the organisation, do you have an idea for a new name yourself), input can be obtained that is valuable for our briefing and creation sessions. This way the knife cuts both ways: employees are involved and we get valuable information.

presentation of the name selection

Once there is a shortlist, or even a final choice, it has to be ‘sold’ to stakeholders, such as a Board Of Directors or during an event to all employees. But even most managers are not used to responding to a name that was not there yet. Globrands has the experience and resources to let the audience become acquainted with brand naming in a nice way and enable them to respond constructively.

no naming contest

We advise against naming contests, for three reasons:

  • strategy
    The core challenge in brand naming is to find out what you want to say. Naming contests don’t bring the answer.
  • creativity
    The quality of the name proposals is not optimal. When 300 people each make 2 proposals, you get 600 proposals with a lot of overlap and little thought. When you let 2 people each make 300 proposals, you get more quality and variety.
  • support
    You generate less support for the new name instead of more, because you say ‘no’ to all contributions except the winner, while they all come from the most engaged people. It is wiser to ask what people find important about a new name and take their answers into account when deciding. When the new name is made public, this is useful background information.

The majority of our projects are aimed at name development. We also provide strategic advice, evaluate existing naming and brand name portfolios, develop sloganstag lines and descriptive denotations.

Naming projects contain five basic steps that are taken almost every time. In addition, most projects require specific expertise. Examples are shown to the left.

1.     Strategy

What does the client want to achieve? What does the playing field look like? What is the essence of the brand, in the long term? First we generate focus by answering these questions. We can help with formulating a brand positioning.

2.     Examples

Second, we ask ourselves how we want to communicate this to the audience. Using customised examples we show the possibilities. We will deal with different naming directions, showing different properties of the new brand. We do this with different types of language: descriptive, abstract, symbolic, local, international, different or plain. The result of this session is agreement about name positioning and tone of voice.

3.     Presentations

Based on these insights, we create hundreds of different proposals, from which we make a selection internally. During a presentation, about 30 will be discussed. Usually there are two name presentations, but sometimes one is enough.

The presented proposals will have no identical entries in the relevant classes of goods. If the name must be free as a domain name with a specific extension, all proposals will meet this.

This leads to a shortlist of around 5 proposals that express the brand essence well. Meanwhile, the chance that they can really be used is already high.

4.     Research

We register the names in this shortlist as domain names. In addition, we subject them to trade mark research. If there are names containing a significant risk of confusion with existing brands, they will be taken out.

If necessary, we also subject names to international linguistic research and consumer tests.

5.     Selection

Eventually, one name is the winner. A strong starting point that will connect your brand to your markets in a way you could hardly imagine before.

our services

Besides brand names, Globrands develops slogans and labels and provides strategic advice in the fields of rebranding, brand identity and positioning. We assess existing brand naming, create order in brand portfolios and clarify the decision making in situations where multiple interests are involved. We take care of the name researchtrademark law, domain checks, and more.

clients and partners

Globrands serve clients from all parts of the world. We work together with the best brand strategists, marketing and design agencies across the world.

the Global Naming Network

Regarding our international projects, we work together with our partners in the Global Naming Network, which has members in Shanghai, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Founex, San Francisco Bay, New York City, Milan, and Seoul.

> contact us