Bill Purdy has spent a career refining his craft as a brand craftsman. He began his journey with Addison Whitney in 2006 as a Senior Consultant. He was a founding partner of CannonCassidy— a pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer branding firm. Then, he rejoined Addison Whitney in 2020 as Senior Vice President and Managing Director to expand the business and strengthen its team of branders. After nearly 30 years building brands, Bill brings process innovation, creative perspective and best practices leadership to Addison Whitney; know-how that helps Bill and his team create brands that matter!
Social media links and website
AW: LInkedIN https://www.linkedin.com/company/addison-whitney/
AW Website: https://www.addisonwhitney.com/
AW Twitter: https://twitter.com/AddisonWhitney
Bill Purdy Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/billpurdy1/
Highlights from the interview
In the healthcare space, Bill advocates for safety being the cornerstone of brand. Names should be safe. Bill educates clients on the importance of brand for their business.
Drug naming is a challenging process that can take several months. When an asset or molecule needs a brand name, a team works together with a client. They take into consideration legal presence, commercial presence, regulatory issues, drug information, linguistics, an understanding of what the product is and the science behind it, and more. Client feedback is important. Naming is one part of branding. It can lead into the larger process – the Brand Precept. The Brand Precept includes the brand story and narrative, visual identity and logo, package design, color palate, website, imagery, campaign development, and more. Through the Brand Precept, marketplace, customer, and brand become aligned in a meaningful and differential way.
What makes a drug name appropriate or inappropriate/desirable or undesirable? Safety first! A name should not be confused with another product. Names must be unique, ownable, catchy, and memorable. Also, weird is good! Some drug names have uncommon letter strings, phonetic alternatives, and double letters. Branding teams do research to find trends.
How does a patient, pharmacist, or other person know how to pronounce drug names? When a drug name candidate is developed, there is an intended pronunciation conveyed to the client. Eventually it is stated in marketing. Names are tested, including listening to sound files of people pronouncing names.
Bill uses a tool called “POCA” (Phonetic Orthographic Computer Analysis) to help with drug naming. According to the FDA’s website, The Phonetic and Orthographic Computer Analysis (POCA) program is a software tool that uses an advanced algorithm to determine the orthographic and phonetic similarity between two drug names. Bill also uses legal databases, stem nomenclature searches, linguistic analysis, a dictionary, a thesaurus, and market research. The biggest tool brand craftspeople use is know-how (personal experience). An experienced team can build consensus, define a vision, and help a client get there.
I suggested using synesthesia as a tool. Bill said that the brain goes to what it knows. It’s a challenge to create a connection that is unique.
There is value in hiring Addison Whitney. They have experience naming over 1,000 brands products, services, trials, drugs, devices, and more. They know the process of generating safe and viable names, and they know how to avoid pitfalls and build consensus.
A myth about drug naming is that, “It can’t be that hard!” On the contrary, to get one name, it can take 2 years to consider more than 1,000 name candidates. It’s both an art and a science. Rarely do names jump off a page. A variety of skill sets are involved in naming and branding. Everyone needs to contribute to make it happen.
When asked about a time when he changed his mind about something really important, Bill said that he didn’t think technology was necessary, but it’s an integral part of the name process.
Bill had a long and winding path to becoming a brand craftsman. According to Bill, no one sets out to be a namer. He was a writer and editor for a drug company. Then, he wrote CME and pharmacist CE. Bill also ran an ad agency for a while. 15 years ago, he interviewed as a Brand Consultant at Addison Whitney. Becoming a Brand Consultant was a natural evolution of what he always did! Past experiences help Bill craft brands.
How could someone else get into this line of work? Be curious and creative. Love language and communicating ideas. Bill creates language. Addison Whitney also has pharmacists on staff. Pharmacists help with regulatory concerns, name validation, safety, and look and sound testing. Bill’s team plays a number of roles: writing, strategy, visual identity, design, mechanical design of a package, video production, campaign creation, website creation, and more.
If you like to create and collaborate, you could be a brander.