Brand matters: Interbrand's best in pharma ranks Pfizer, Roche and Merck at top

Global brand consultant Interbrand, author of the annual Best Global Brands list, has turned its attention to pharma. InterbrandHealth looked specifically at the pharma category and sifted through 25 companies to get the "Best Pharma Brands," a baseline top 10 in the industry.

Pfizer ($PFE) ranked highest at almost $20 billion ($19.99 billion) in brand value, followed by Roche Group ($RHHBY) at $15.47 billion and Merck & Co. ($MRK) at $13.88 billion.

After the top three came Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) pharma unit Janssen at $13.87 billion; Novartis ($NVS) at $13.5 billion; Amgen ($AMGN) at $13.46 billion; Gilead Sciences ($GILD) at $13.36 billion; Novo Nordisk ($NVO) at $10.21 billion; AstraZeneca ($AZN) at $8.12 billion and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) at $6.78 billion.

Interbrand looked at three factors in determining the dollar figure for the brands: financial analysis, brand strength and role of brand. The third factor measures brand influence and how likely customers are to recommend it--in this case, how likely are doctors and healthcare providers to recommend or prescribe the brand's drugs.

That's an important distinction between the older and larger Best Global Brands and the new Best Pharma Brands: The former looks at general consumer perceptions of a brand, while the latter looked at data collected from 1,900 healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, policy makers and payers.

InterbrandHealth senior manager of marketing Nicole Diamant

"The time was definitely right for us to do a pharma list. It seems we're at a point of pivotal change and opportunity for the industry to take control of the conversation and really start to offer a better picture of what they bring to the world, to their stakeholders and to consumers," said Nicole Diamant senior manager, marketing, at InterbrandHealth, in an interview.

Because this year's pharma survey was the first, there weren't any up or down moves on the list to discuss, but Diamant did note differences between finance and brand.

"Analysts typically look at market cap when assessing company performance," she said. "If you rank the top 10 pharma companies by market cap and then look at the Best Pharma Brands valuation ranking, you see companies like Merck & Co. and Amgen jump in rank because of their brand performance."

The study underlines the value of brand in pharma, especially today, as parent corporate brands take on larger roles than ever before. Investing in that intangible asset is important, Diamant said. Interbrand plans to repeat the study again next year.

"A higher brand value number indicates that, based on our research and analysis, that corporate brand has more value," she said. "Which means that brand is delivering a greater value to healthcare professionals and having a greater impact on the decision-making of those professionals."

- read the Interbrand news release

Special Report: The top 10 advertisers in Big Pharma