Why You Should Give Your Clinical Trial an Effective Identity

by | Oct 17, 2016 | Uncategorized

A B.R.I.D.G.E. to Your Brand Launch

Thinking about creating a clinical trial identity?

Smart decision. Especially when you look at the numbers.

ClinicalTrials.gov currently lists 357,340 studies with locations in all 50 states and 218 countries. These are certainly daunting numbers for health care companies that rely on the successful recruitment of patients, health care professionals, partners and even financial institutions in order to successfully launch and complete their trials.

In today’s increasingly competitive clinical trial space, it is important not to underestimate the value of developing a powerful clinical trial identity system, including a meaningful name, design, color and various applications to effectively communicate your trial to important constituents.

Note: It is important to point out that this is not early product branding. Instead this is about identifying a set of perceptions that helps to communicate, differentiate and activate the trial itself.

Eighty percent or more of human information processing happens through sensory channels, so identifying the right “look” to convey through your trial identity and messaging is a powerful yet still underutilized tool in the pharmaceutical space.

For example, when a global pharmaceutical company initiated a clinical trial aimed at evaluating whether statins reduce heart attacks and strokes in people with normal cholesterol levels, it selected the simple, strong and evocative name JUPITER as the reference name for the trial instead of using the much more complicated, lengthy and difficult-to-remember official title: Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: An Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin.

Not only is JUPITER an acronym for the official trial title, it is also the name of the largest planet in the solar system and the Roman name for Zeus, the most powerful god in Greek mythology. The name suggests a large and expansive trial – more than 17,000 patients were analyzed – and evokes a sense of magnitude and thoroughness, confidence and leadership.

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clinical-trial-identity-4In another instance, EXTEND was selected as the name for a research study designed to test whether a therapy called tocilizumab can prevent the immune system from attacking healthy beta cells in patients diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, as well as extend the ability of the body to naturally produce insulin.

In this case, the name EXTEND suggests the overall objectives of the trial, providing an objective, hopeful and friendly story that can be equally meaningful to professional and patient audiences. The trial also utilizes a visual identity system, including a symbol and color system to support and communicate the EXTEND name and trial objectives.

Clinical trial titles can be a mouthful, not to mention confusing, cold and even unapproachable. In both cases above, the JUPITER and EXTEND trial names are much more simple and user-friendly ways of referring to complex scientific trial descriptions.

A quick look at ClinicalTrials.gov reveals hundreds of trial names developed to be referenced instead of the trial title, including ASCEND, PURSUIT, GLOBE, POWER and ELATE, to name only a few.

In addition to creating clinical trial names that convey the relevant information about the trial, another important part of developing an effective trial identity is nonverbal: the look and feel of the trial name.

For example, when Holaira initiated a phase 2, multicenter, interventional clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an investigational therapy for individuals with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, the company developed the AIRFLOW 1 and AIRFLOW 2 study identities. The name was devised to communicate the intended benefit of treatment.


The AIRFLOW trial is a much more simple and user-friendly way of referring to complex scientific trial descriptions. And by using the color blue, choosing a rounded typeface and adding a flowing wave above the trial name, the clinical trial identity communicates directly and immediately what the trial is all about.

The creation of effective and approachable clinical trial identities helps pharmaceutical and medical device companies to strategically yet carefully condition the market for brand development and launch activities by providing early information and communication, rather than promotion and advertising. In fact, savvy health care companies continue to look at the clinical trial identity as an opportunity to build a bridge to their ultimate launch brand.

In the spirit of clinical trial names – which, as demonstrated above, are often acronyms derived from the objectives or desired outcomes of the trials – the benefits of developing a successful clinical trial identity can be captured within the components of B.R.I.D.G.E.

Build awareness about your product or disease state.

Rally or awaken patients, health care professionals and society as a whole to your scientific objective.

Inform the market about specific trial objectives, results and feedback without promoting or advertising.

Differentiate your identity from the many thousands of competitive trials and compounds.

Generate credibility for your compound by demonstrating deliberate and formal development initiatives.

Engage and attract in-demand patients and professionals in a highly competitive market.

By developing a clinical trial identity system that is relevant, credible and differentiated – the essential characteristics of any good brand – companies can leverage their trials to maximize pre-launch product awareness and in a sense plant the early seeds for their future brands.

Want to learn how Six Degrees can create an effective clinical trial identity for your business? Contact us today.

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Kris Larsen
Kris has nearly three decades of experience leading global organizations across a variety of industries in the planning, development and implementation of their brand assets. Kris’ career began with branding pioneer Interbrand New York in 1986, and in 1989 he opened their Chicago office to serve the company’s growing Midwest client base. In 2010 Kris joined pharmaceutical naming firm Brand Institute as President in Geneva, Switzerland, where he expanded its visual identity and clinical trial identity expertise while growing key life science, ag chem and animal health clients. In 2016 Kris joined Six Degrees and opened its second location in Chicago. Kris has an MBA in international marketing management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a B.A. in economics from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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