Sunday, February 28, 2010

2/28 is Rare Disease Day — Insights on the Commonalities in Uncommon Diseases

At STINSON, we’ve had the privilege of helping to brand and market products that treat rare and serious diseases. For many, the launch of these brands has been life-changing. Although each individual patient’s story is unique, we’ve noticed some striking similarities across medical conditions.  Here are some thoughts submitted by Nancy Burgess, Director of CHEM at our company.
  • Years of suffering without a diagnosis - Many patients with rare conditions suffer for years with seemingly “unrelated” symptoms until an astute specialist finally puts the pieces together. In the meantime, many end up with multiple diagnoses, misdiagnoses, and are sometimes even told that it’s “all in their head.”
  • Feelings of isolation - Many of these people feel alone. In part, the unpredictability of symptoms can make it hard to make plans in advance. Additionally, with only 1 in 100,000 people diagnosed with a rare condition, it’s no wonder that patients (and their families) often feel “nobody understands what I’m going through.”
  • Self-education - Many patients conduct their own research to get answers. Often patients wind up knowing more about the disease than the average physician, and they are forced to take on the role of educating the healthcare professionals. These patients rely on a small group of medical experts, the Internet, and social networking sites for information, inspiration, and support.
  • Patient associations - The combination of suffering, isolation, and the need for information acts as a catalyst for a patient or family member to start a support group. Often, the groups’ costs are defrayed by pharmaceutical companies who share an interest in successfully treating these patients and providing the support they need. The pharmaceutical companies can be instrumental in helping organize individuals and rallying them around their common interest.
Some of these conditions include such obscure diagnoses as hereditary angioedema (HAE), primary immunodeficiency, and acromegaly.

Learn more about HAE at or 
Learn more about primary immunodeficiency at or
Learn more about acromegaly at or

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pharmaceutical and biologic companies leverage advocacy groups

These thoughts were shared by Layne Shapiro, one of our brand engagement managers, as she prepares to attend the AAAAI conference in New Orleans this weekend.

Millions of sufferers of autoimmune and other rare diseases have stories of diagnosis difficulty and often actively search to learn more about their condition and treatment options online.  With the massive amount of information available on the Web, patients are seeking out information on their own.  Advocacy groups and sites like WebMD publish information that consumers soak up.  As a result, pharmaceutical marketers are proactively reaching out to help patients understand their condition. 

We engage with advocacy groups including the Immune Deficiency Foundation, Hereditary Angiodema Association, and the Magic Foundation.  These groups can be helpful in understanding the language used by patients and physicians, making sure that the brand message is in line with what the advocacy group, and recruiting patients to participate in market research groups.

When developing a brand story to set biologic brands apart, it is our job to discover a brand’s unique story beneath all the safety and efficacy data, and determine the target Customer and indication among the numerous audiences. The key to a successful brand story is to share what makes this brand different, not necessarily better, more effective, or cheaper.  The benefit-driven strategies seem to be the only kind that work to truly differentiate a biologic product that exists in a market place crowded with other brands that have common features.

Looking ahead to the upcoming AAAAI Annual Meeting, where pharmaceutical and biologic companies will gather with allergy and immunology experts to exchange ideas on new therapies and treatments, I am excited to see the innovation. Each pharmaceutical and biologic company tries to distinguish their solution as the best, however no one can make that claim and every brand has its own story. 

Watch for my next blog which will be on the brand stories seen at this year’s AAAAI.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rebranding Valentine’s Day

This blog post was submitted by Katie Pendlay, global designer director for STINSON Brand Innovation.

The professional graphic designers Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio at the Austin-based firm, Under Consideration, were invited by Studio 360 — the Public Radio International show hosted by Kurt Andersen — to rebrand Valentine’s Day. They analyzed the entire brand — everything from the heart icon, to the color palette, and from chocolates to Cupid. Studio 360 has posed similar challenges in the past: Pentagram rebranded Christmas in 2006; Worldstudio redesigned the gay flag in 2009.

Under Consideration started with the “logo” or icon of Valentine’s Day: the heart. It was decided that the heart icon was not unique to Valentine’s Day referencing “I heart NY,” AED defib signs, and American Heart Association. They arrived at an exclusive icon by dissecting the heart at 90 and 45 degree angles. This new shape forms a cradle that symbolizes not only a “v” for valentines day, but also two people coming together, unity, and partnership.

The color palette was also examined. Red, most commonly used for Valentine’s Day, is more widely used for Christmas, so therefore it is not unique to Valentine’s Day. The other Valentine’s Day color is pink. There is some equity in pink, so they decided to go with a more vibrant and contemporary shade of pink, magenta. A secondary color of dark grey adds a level of sophistication. Overlaying the two colors produces a third color, burgundy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

200 companies where you can skip the phone tree (plus ours, if you press “0” now)

If you’re like me, you like the secret passage or the express lane or the inside story.  So here’s a way to skip to head of the customer service line at dozens of companies. has done the work for us – and mapped out the automated phone trees of about 200 companies.  You just log on, click the department you want to reach, and Fonolo will make the call, navigate the system, and call you when it has reached your desired department.

I read that Inc. magazine gave it a trial; they reached a Citibank rep in less than 20 seconds with Fonolo, versus about 2 minutes when calling direct.  Fonolo has an iPhone app, too...

Now, want to go forward-fast to reach one of our Brand Innovators?  Dial 773/537-4600.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NF-kB seminar at Chinese University of Hong Kong

Today, I accompanied the Onwon Trading Co. team to a seminar for researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.  The talk was given by Chandra Mohan, PhD of Merck Biosciences on the topic “NF-kB Activation: The Link Between Chronic Inflammation and Diseases.”

First, a little about the CUHK and the lab we visited.  The Centre for Research into Circulating Fetal Nucleic Acids is one of five focus areas at the university, headed by Prof. Dennis Y.M. Lo.

Prenatal diagnosis is an indispensable component of health care. Definitive diagnostic methods in current use, e.g., amniocentesis, are invasive and pose a risk to the unborn child. In 1997, Prof. Dennis Lo and his team discovered, for the first time in the world, the presence of cell-free fetal DNA in the plasma of pregnant women, offering new possibilities for non-invasive prenatal diagnosis. The team has further pioneered many diagnostic applications, a number of which are now used clinically by many centers globally. The center consists of a multidisciplinary group of local and international researchers to address a number of high-profile unsolved questions in the field of circulating fetal nucleic acids, including non-invasive molecular methods for the diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome. Its ultimate goal is to make safe prenatal diagnosis available to citizens around the world and to promote the development of expertise in molecular diagnostics in this region.


Now, an overview of Dr. Mohan’s talk on NF-kB.

Inflammation, a normal physiological response to injury or infection, results the activation of several pro-inflammatory genes and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, and reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Although, production and release of free radicals at the site of inflammation is helpful in eliminating invading pathogens, it can also damage healthy epithelial and stromal cells, which may lead to malignancy. Excessive lipid peroxidation, protein nitration, and DNA damage caused by free radicals can also activate several proto-oncogenes. The inflammatory link to carcinogenesis is supported by the fact that the NF-kB signaling pathway is dysregulated in a variety of human cancers. Several human lymphoid cancer cells are reported to have either mutations or amplifications of genes encoding NF-kB transcription factors. Constitutively active NF-kB is reported in many types of human tumors. In some cases, this is due to chronic stimulation of the IKK pathway, while in others the gene encoding IkBa is defective. Such constitutive nuclear NF-kB activity not only protects cancer cells from apoptotic cell death, but may also enhance their growth potential. Hence, designing anti-tumor agents to block NF-kB activity has great therapeutic value. This presentation will highlight some of the contemporary views linking chronic activation of NF-kB to tumorigenesis and link new research products developed by Merck Biosciences for investigating various signaling pathways involved in chronic inflammation and cancer.

Chandra Mohan received his PhD in 1976 from Bangalore University and did his post-doctoral work from 1977 to 1983 at the University of Southern California, School of Medicine.  From 1983 to 1993 he was an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Nutrition at the University of Southern California, Medical School in Los Angeles.  During this time he also served as an Associate Editor of the journal “Biochemical Medicine and Metabolic Biology.”  He joined Calbiochem (now EMD/Merck) in 1993 and is currently the Senior Director of Technical Services and Senior Technical Writer. His research interests include diabetes, biochemical basis of stress, inflammation, and the biology of aging.

 After the seminar, the representatives from Onwon (Geoffrey, Peter, Nelson and Frankie) had good discussions and follow-up with the researchers who attended.

1 Brain Runneth Over

When I finished reading Torkel Klingberg’s The Overflowing Brain, my brain was running over.  At least now, I know why.

The book is described by one reviewer as “the day in the mental life of a typical corporate manager.”   It points out how the average businessperson is forever trying to focus on too many things at once.  For example, how many computer windows can you count open on your screen right now?  How about the average amount of mail in your inbox when you open it in the morning?

We are constantly being interrupted before we can even begin to start a task let alone finish it.  Klingberg, a cognitive neuroscientist is Stockholm, gives a brief tour of what science has discovered about our brains, especially what their limits are and what we can do to improve their functioning:

“When we must return to a task after interruption or delay our brain’s working memory tries to retain the necessary information.  We use this form of memory, say, to keep a telephone number in mind just long enough to dial it.  But working memory has a short life and limited capacity.  About four items is the most it can hold.  If we start a conversation before we dial the phone number, the number will disappear.”

The book explores how our modern lives may be too much for our simple brains -- that have not developed much from ancient times.

You can read more about what on my mind in the latest issue of our Accelerate newsletter.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GSK-3 seminar at Hong Kong University

Today, I accompanied the Onwon Trading Co. team to a seminar for researchers at the Research Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone, and Healthy Aging of Hong Kong University.  The talk was given by Chandra Mohan, PhD of Merck Biosciences on the topic “Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3: Its Signaling Role in Development and Disease.”

To facilitate research and provide training opportunities, the Heart, Brain, Hormone & Healthy Aging Laboratory has been set up on the 5th Floor of the Laboratory Block, Faculty of Medicine Building, under the supervision of a laboratory committee, consisting of a Deputy Director and 3 Investigators.

After extensive consultation of Centre investigators, it was decided that the following 3 core facilities for Healthy Aging Research should be established within the Centre Laboratory.
  1. Functional genomics: this will include facilities and expertise for understanding the gene function and dysfunction in aging-related diseases by making use of transgenic/knock-out mouse models generated by conventional and conditional approaches, siRNA (in vitro and in vivo), and global gene and protein expression (microarray and proteomics).
  2. Biomarkers & phenotying: this will include the multiplex assays for inflammatory, oxidative and hormonal changes, as well as metabolic, haemodynamic and behavioral assessments.
  3. Cell and tissue engineering: this will include human and mouse stem cell culture & differentiation, and recombinant viral vector generation.
Now, some highlights of Dr. Mohan’s talk on GSK-3.

Abnormalities in pathways that use GSK-3 as a regulator have been linked to several disease conditions. Hence, GSK-3 has emerged as a potential therapeutic target, particularly in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s disease, developmental disorders, and cancer. Several new GSK-3 inhibitors have recently been developed, most of which act in an ATP competitive manner. Inhibitors belonging to aloisines, the paullones, and the maleimide families have shown promise as therapeutic agents. Due to its involvement in multiple pathways, selectivity of GSK-3 inhibition is an important factor in the development of inhibitors for therapeutic applications.

“As we see people living longer,” said Dr. Mohan, “we see more and more dementia, which includes a loss of memory and loss of cognitive function.”

Alzheimer’s disease attacks specific neurons—the ones in areas of the brain that govern memory and cognitive capabilities. “What causes the loss of neurons is a fascinating field of research,” says Mohan. So far, scientists know of two processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease. For one thing, β:-amyloid proteins—just 40-42 amino acids long—get deposited between neurons in specific areas of the brain. Mohan says, “These peptides slow down the function of neurons and produce free radicals that lead to cell death.” In addition, too much phosphorylation of tau proteins destroys the function of microtubules, which inhibits intracellular processes, such as transporting mitochondria throughout a cell. Neurons die when they include overly phosphorylated tau proteins, which also arises in Alzheimer’s disease. “We have tried to concentrate on product lines in both these areas,” says Mohan. For example, Merck Biosciences carries a line of GSK-3 inhibitors. The GSK-3 enzyme causes phosphorylation. Mohan says, “GSK-3 is the most important enzyme. It is the most widely studied right now.”

Merck Biosciences carries antibodies against tau phosphorylation at specific amino acids: serine, threonine, and tyrosine.  You can take a brain section, use immunohistochemistry, and see where the phosphorylated tau was located.

Chandra Mohan received his PhD in 1976 from Bangalore University and did his post-doctoral work from 1977 to 1983 at the University of Southern California, School of Medicine.  From 1983 to 1993 he was an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Nutrition at the University of Southern California, Medical School in Los Angeles.  During this time he also served as an Associate Editor of the journal “Biochemical Medicine and Metabolic Biology.”  He joined Calbiochem (now EMD/Merck) in 1993 and is currently the Senior Director of Technical Services and Senior Technical Writer. His research interests include diabetes, biochemical basis of stress, inflammation, and the biology of aging.

After the seminar, our friends from Onwon (Geoffrey, Peter, Nelson and Frankie) had good discussions and follow-up with the researchers who attended.

TEDTalks: Anthony Atala Talks about Growing Human Organs

Dr. Anthony Atala's state-of-the-art lab grows human organs -- from muscles to blood vessels to bladders, and more. At TEDMED, he showed footage of his bio-engineers working with some of its sci-fi gizmos, including an oven-like bioreactor (preheat to 98.6 F) and a machine that "prints" human tissue.

Anthony Atala, M.D., is the Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Chair of Urology at Wake Forest University. His current work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs.

Dr. Atala has received numerous awards, including the US Congress funded Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, and was named by Scientific American as a Medical Treatments Leader of the Year. His work was listed as Discover Magazine's Number 1 Top Science Story of the Year in the field of medicine, and as Time Magazine’s top 10 medical breakthroughs of the year.

Ten technologies developed at the institute have been used clinically. He is the editor of 10 books, serves on the editorial board of several journals, and has applied for or received over 200 national and international patents.

Click here to read more and see a slide show entitled “How to Make a Kidney.”

Monday, February 22, 2010

7 principles for living from "The Travelers Gift”

At the end of the year, I offered a list of 8 books whose pages I’m ready to gain from, learn from, and get ideas from.

I’m enjoying the first on my list – The Travelers Gift – a collection of insights for living an unconventional life in a conventional world. In the spirit of Og Mandino, Andy Andrews outlines seven principles for successful living:
  1. The Buck Stops Here - Taking personal responsibility
  2. Seek Wisdom - Search for understanding and discernment
  3. Be a Person of Action - Being a courageous leader 
  4. Have a Decided Heart - Overcoming double-mindedness
  5. Choose Happiness - Possessing a grateful spirit
  6. Forgive others - The power of grace and mercy
  7. Persist - Persevering with faith until the end
The Traveler's Gift is a book of success principles told as a parable, using historical personalities and events.  It may not be especially original (and it's not a book you would read for its literary qualities),  but it does offer powerful lessons from the past to inspire today's reader.

If you liked the Og Mandino collection as much I do, you'll really love this.

Friday, February 19, 2010

2 brand innovations combine for better patient management

In the last few days, I’ve posted blogs about informed patients and Walgreens Take Care clinics.

Now, here’s news that combines them both.

The pharmacy megachain announced its Optimal Wellness initiative, an education-based self-care program for people with chronic conditions kicking off with a focus on type 2 diabetes. Under the program, patients with the disease will be eligible to receive specialized health coaching and diabetes counseling from a Walgreens pharmacist or a Take Care Clinic nurse, all done in conjunction with the patient's primary care provider.

Click here to read more about it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1 of the top 10 ways to cut health care costs: informed patients

We have many clients who are working on raising the knowledge of patients and providing them with tools to make better medical decisions.

So when a list was published of “10 Ways to Cut Health Care Costs Right Now,” I had to share.  One way was to “Let well-informed patients decide.”

When Floyd "Jack" Fowler Jr. holds focus groups of heart patients, he's amazed at their misplaced faith in the benefits of medical procedures. "They all think they'll die if they don't have bypass surgery or angioplasty," says Fowler—even though studies show that both procedures extend lives or prevent heart attacks in only a tiny minority of especially sick patients. But hardly anyone knows this, he says.

Fowler's nonprofit Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making has sought for years to give patients both that knowledge—and a choice. The idea is to explain thoroughly to people the benefits and risks of medical procedures they may be facing. At the Spine Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, for example, patients with back problems are shown a video that walks them through various procedures and provides data showing that outcomes are similar whether or not they have surgery. Once the program started, spinal surgery rates dropped 30%.

So far, shared decision-making efforts reach only a small number of patients. But given that as much as 37% of health spending is wasted on unnecessary care, the idea is catching on. Washington State passed the nation's first law two years ago encouraging informed decision-making, and other states are expected to follow, says Dr. Lance Lang, senior medical director at Health Dialog.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A change agent in communications offers advice for building a career in brands

I had a chance to visit Los Angeles recently to facilitate N-of-8 groups for one of our clients.  We were right near the UCLA campus, so I picked up a copy of the Alumni magazine.  There was a great interview with Jim Stengel, who spent 25 years at Procter & Gamble, the last seven as global marketing officer, and is now a UCLA professor.

One of the most respected and admired change agents in communications, Stengel offers unparalleled advice for building a career in this most glamorous and critical sector of the business world.

“Peter Drucker said it about as well as anyone, ‘The purpose of business is to create a customer.’ So marketing is central to any business, either explicitly or implicitly. It is also the right place for idealistic people who want to change the world for the better. Brands that improve life, such as Zappos, Toyota, Natura (in Brazil) or Pampers, are not just great leadership brands — they're also great places to work.”

What does Stengel think are the best and worst thing about being a marketer?

“The best thing is there is no better place to transform a business or brand than in marketing. So if you like making a difference in people's lives, I can't imagine a better place to work. The worst thing is that everyone thinks they're an expert in your field. This means you have to have greater conviction in what you do than anyone else — and that's not a bad thing.”

Click here to read more of his interview on the UCLA website.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

$59 - $74 medical clinic visit

I recently heard about a “positive brand experience” at the Take Care Clinic in Walgreens.  So, I thought you might want to read the Fast Company article about its innovative thinking and operational approach in corporate healthcare – including Disney World.

Click here to read the entire article.

Monday, February 15, 2010

3 developments reported from San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

Last week, I posted an update on Prolia that referenced the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Here are three other developments reported on that conference from researchers and physicians about drug discovery, ongoing clinical trials, the genetics of cancer, preventive therapies, and more:

1. Herceptin

Roche and ImmunoGen reported on a "guided missile" combination drug called T-DM1 that shrank tumors by 30% or more in one-third of critically ill, advanced breast cancer patients in a trial. The therapy combines Roche's Herceptin with a second, potent cancer-killing drug from ImmunoGen, with Herceptin acting as the guidance system, using its ability to home in on cancer cells to deliver the treatment directly to its target.

There was additional good news for Herceptin, which had sales of $4.7 billion last year. A separate study at the meeting added to existing evidence that the drug can help breast cancer patients with the gene variant known as HER2 survive for five years after they are diagnosed. Women taking chemo drugs called anthracyclines in combination with Herceptin fared better than women taking the chemo without Roche's drugs.

2. Stronger Bones Build Resistance

Two separate studies discussed at the symposium showed that bone-building drugs such as Merck's Fosamax, Novartis' Zometa, and Roche's Boniva might cut older women's risk of breast cancer. One paper, drawing on data from the ongoing Women's Health Initiative, a large study backed by the federal government, showed that postmenopausal women taking either Fosamax or another drug in the same class had a 32% lower rate of developing breast cancer. A smaller Israeli trial found a 29% reduction.

Some researchers concluded from these and earlier studies that patients get protective benefits from any of the drugs in this class, known as bisphosphonates. And women may not need to be on the drugs any longer than one full year to reap lasting results, one researcher said, because the chemicals remain in the bones for a year or more.

3. New Hope from Old Drugs

Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Bayer said their Nexavar pill, sold in more than 70 countries to treat cancers of the liver and kidney, extended the lives of women with advanced breast cancer by delaying growth of malignancies that had spread or recurred. Tumors in two-thirds of women treated with Nexavar and the chemotherapy paclitaxel shrank by at least 25% and were stable for an average of 8.1 months. About half of those on paclitaxel alone had shrinkage, and they were stable for 5.6 months, the study found.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Last-minute Valentine's Day Idea: Free E-Book Of Classic Chocolate Available For Download From SBI Publishing

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a free e-book edition is available of the classic 17th century book Chocolate: or, An Indian Drinke by author and physician Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma.

This e-book is one in a series entitled Innovation Classics dedicated to collecting and publishing the best – or perhaps the underappreciated – innovation writing of the past. Chocolate can be downloaded at no charge from the website of SBI Publishing, a unit of STINSON Brand Innovation.

From Valentine's Day to Halloween through to Christmas, chocolate is always there to celebrate a holiday. Back in the 1630s, Ledesma explained chocolate's role in health and wellness, as well as its history, culture and sensory pleasures. While we know now that overindulging leads to calorie concerns, the right amounts of the right kinds of chocolate can actually make one feel and even look better. Further, clinical research shows that eating chocolate and natural cocoa may improve vascular health, blood pressure, cognitive health, blood flow and skin health.

In this book, you come to appreciate chocolate well beyond the health and nutrition aspects. You understand the early fascination with chocolate that is now such a part of people's lifestyles, holding a special place in holidays and celebrations.

Giving the gift of chocolate has been associated with Valentine's Day for generations. During Valentine's week, consumers will buy more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy, which equates to approximately $345 million in sales, according to Nielsen data.

Click here to download The Innovation Classics series of e-books at no charge.

Prolia: update on a brand innovation to watch

At the first of the year, we wrote about one brand innovation to keep our eyes on in 2010 – Amgen's bone-loss treatment brand Prolia (denosumab).

Once approved, how will denosumab fare against Zometa and other bone-strengthening drugs on the market?

Early signs look good. At the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, a study of denosumab's impact on bone strength showed it cut the rate of fractures and other bone complications in patients with breast cancer better than Zometa and had fewer side effects.

Amgen says it expects to release data from a similar study on building bone strength by the end of March.  Click here to read more.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

1 word for the latest innovation style: “jugaad”

A recent article in BusinessWeek details the hype surrounding the latest brand innovation in innovation: jugaad. As American companies look to augment revenues without spending much, this Indian style of generating new products and services through "inexpensive invention on the fly" holds particular appeal.

Will jugaad find a place of importance in the management consulting jargon?

Will it help companies better serve their customers at lower costs?  Or is it just old ideas recycled in exotic linguistic clothing?

Click here to read the article, and see for yourself.


At STINSON Brand Innovation, we have expanded our health, science, and technology branding work into India through a collaboration with BrandCare, a leading pharma brand management agency based in Mumbai.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 launched in Japan – successfully applying global brand hallmarks developed by Stinson

So we’re pleased to see that our core branding of has been successfully translated and applied for the Japanese market.

It’s a great example of leveraging proven, tested visual and verbal brand hallmarks – all resulting from the StrategicGPS and ForwardFast work from Stinson Brand Innovation.

Last March, Melanie and I had the opportunity to visit CSL Behring K.K. in Tokyo where with met with the critical care and immunology team, led by our host Ms. Tae Itabashi. They manage commercial operations for CSL Behring in Japan and are involved in corporate planning, marketing, regulatory and medical information activities. We had a great exchange of ideas on how accelerate marketing of Berinert in Japan.

Click here to read the press release posted on the CSL Behring Japan website.

Congratulations to the CSL Behring team for the great work.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

1st ultra-portable ECG machine developed and launched in India: the GE MAC 400

GE has tapped a pool of inexpensive expertise to target Indian hospitals and clinics that cannot afford its equipment designed for the U.S.

The pride on Ashish Shah’s face is unmistakable as he opens a white carton lying on the conference room table. General manager for GE Healthcare’s Technology Organization in India, Shah pulls out a contraption — slightly bigger than a landline phone, but a lot less complicated with far fewer buttons. This is the world’s first ultra-portable electrocardiogram (ECG) machine: the MAC 400.

GE Healthcare has used Indian software engineers to develop an electrocardiograph that costs les than $1,000, one-tenth the standard models used in the past. GE hopes to sell the technology in the U.S. eventually and elsewhere.

"In India we have the engineers that have the brainpower and the bandwidth to deliver on these types of projects," said V. Raja, chief executive of GE Healthcare's business in India.  They are clearly thinking of shifting the gravity to where growth is — focusing on resource-rich and people-rich countries.

GE has realized that there is a big gap between what it has traditionally got out of this market vis-a-vis what it could potentially get.

The focus on India, in a sense, is also pre-emptive. If GE doesn’t solve India’s problems, local companies will.

Adds Raja, “We see MNCs and local companies scaling the kind of revenues they get here and we think, ‘Why we can’t be an L&T, a Bharti-Airtel, or a Nokia?’ That’s clearly dawned on us.”
Click here to read more about the MAC 400 and other GE initiatives.  


At STINSON Brand Innovation, we are expanding our health, science, and technology branding work into India through a collaboration with BrandCare, a leading pharma brand management agency based in Mumbai.

You can also read more about STINSON Brand Innovation and our international branding assignments in the “Global Issue” of our Accelerate newsletter. 

Monday, February 08, 2010

7 articles submitted to POWER BRANDS book of India’s most powerful brands

I was honored to be selected to contribute to POWER BRANDS: From Evolution To Revolution, a book that profiles 200 of India’s most powerful brands and the process that created them.

POWER BRANDS is being promoted as “a memoir of cult brands which would act as a strategic tool in reinforcing the leadership, legacy, sustainability and credibility of brands. POWER BRANDS promises to give Indian marketers a never before-experienced interpretation about the brands.”

I was asked to write seven articles for the POWER BRANDS book, covering a wide range of topics:
  • How to Create Greater Value for Health Science and Technology Research With Earlier Brand Innovation
  • Creating a Quality Brand Experience Through Event Marketing
  • Building brands one touchpoint at a time: The Cinderella brand story of Glacéau Vitamin water
  • Creating high-touch, high-volume events: How Starbucks creates and manages millions of personal brand engagements
  • Transforming the trade show portfolio: How Xerox created “the conversation” objective
  • Rewriting the rules of event marketing 2.0: How Microsoft is transforming its events into turbocharged experiences 
  • How to Move Your Brand Forward Fast: A tool for moving a bio-pharma brand from memorability to loyalty
POWER BRANDS of India will be launched as a coffee table book by Planman Media Pvt. Ltd. in association with the Indian Council for Market Research (ICMR).

You can also read more about STINSON Brand Innovation and our international branding assignments in the “Global Issue” of our Accelerate newsletter

Thursday, February 04, 2010

20 leading Taiwan global brands

At the end of February, I’ll be conducting a branding and sales workshop for Asia-Pacific marketing managers.  So in preparation, I’ve been researching some leading brands in key markets.

The Top 20 Taiwan Global Brands were announced last fall, emphasizing the importance of branding for Taiwan enterprises. The brand valuation and survey were sponsored by the Bureau of Foreign Trade and organized by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA). Co-organizers for the survey were BusinessNext magazine and Interbrand.

In the 2009 survey, Acer topped the list with a brand value of NT$40.153 billion (US$1,241 million). Acer enjoyed strong demand for netbooks and its successful strategic brand acquisitions of Gateway in the US and Packard Bell in Europe. Trend Micro, famous for its PC-cillin and antivirus services and solutions, ranked No. 2 with a brand value of NT$39.987 billion (US$1,235 million). Asus, the pioneer and inventor of the Eee PC netbooks, won 3rd place with a brand value of NT$39.689 billion (US$1,235 million), followed by HTC ranking No. 4 (US$1,203 million in brand value) and Master Kong coming in 5th place (US$916 million in brand value).

The total value of the 2009 BusinessWeek and Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands dropped 4.6 percent this year in the aftermath of the recent economic downturn. The total value for the Top 20 Taiwan Global Brands in 2009 was US$8.674 billion (NT$280.734 billion). The aggregate value of the top 20 Taiwan Global brands reflects this trend, with a fall of 5.1%.

In spite of the global recession and eroded brand equity, some Taiwan global brands still managed to accumulate brand value. For example, Master Kong, the leading brand in China’s instant noodle and beverage market, still managed to increase its brand value by 19 percent. It grew with booming demand for China’s consumer products with a brand value increasing from NT$24.96 billion (US$793 million) in 2008 to NT$29.647 billion (US$916 million) in 2009. According to an ACNielsen survey (in June 2009), Master Kong was able to keep its leading position — a place that it has held for more than ten years — in the China market with a market share of 41.2 percent by sales volume and 54.1 percent by sales value. Want Want and Maxxis also benefitted from strong demand in China and significantly increased their brand values. The survey determined that the brand values of Want Want and Maxxis were NT$13.635 billion (US$421 million) and NT$11.153 billion (US$345 million), respectively.

In 2009, the total value for the Top Ten Taiwan Global Brands was NT$237.126 billion (US$7,326 million), a 2.8 percent decline from 2008. According to Interbrand, the global brand consultancy conducting the Best Global Brands and the valuations for Top Taiwan Global Brands, the global economic recession resulted in a 4.6 percent drop for the total value of the world’s top 100 brands. Taiwan, which relies heavily on exports, was no exception. Among the Top Taiwan Global Brands, the successful brands were those that focused on the top two consumer markets — the US and China — while expanding in other regional markets. Interbrand noted two successful brand strategies: strategic alliances with the world’s top brands, such as the HTC-Google partnership to develop Android-based handsets, and investment in and development of innovative products, such as ASUS’s Eee-Family Netbooks and Trend Micro’s focus on cloud computing. Those are good examples of focusing on long-term investments and growth.

This year marks the seventh consecutive year of the Top Taiwan Global Brands valuation. The survey covers publicly traded Taiwanese brands that have a presence in the international markets. Adopting the same methodology as BusinessWeek and Interbrand did for the annual valuation of the 100 Best Global Brands, the Top Taiwan Global Brands assesment combined quantitative analysis of corporate financial performance and qualitative analysis of brand roles and strengths.

The 20 leading brands in the 2009 Top Taiwan Global Brands are:
1.      ACER
3.      ASUS
4.      HTC
6.      WANT-WANT
7.      MAXXIS
8.      GIANT
9.      SYNNEX
10.     ZYXEL
13.     D-LINK
15.     JOHNSON
16.     MERIDA
18.     GENIUS
19.     DEPO
20.     MSI

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

B.E.N. is here to support Berinert

We just posted last week the story about STINSON’S involvement with Berinert – beginning back in 2005 when CSL Behring engaged us to help increase awareness of HAE and the I.M.P.A.C.T. study.  We wrote about the development of global brand hallmarks, including logo, logotype, symbol, visual imagery, and colors to support the defined positioning.

Now there’s more to the story.  Now there’s B.E.N.

CSL Behring announced the launch of B.E.N. (Berinert Expert Network), a full-service support program for healthcare providers and for hereditary angioedema (HAE) patients and their caregivers.  Learn more at

B.E.N. provides information and assistance designed to help healthcare providers and patients, including:
1.  Securing access to Berinert – B.E.N. will assist HAE patients in initiating Berinert therapy when and where it is needed by:
  • Helping their providers develop treatment plans that are appropriate for the individual patient
  • Connecting patients to a specialty pharmacy that has Berinert available
  • Identifying the nearest hospital with access to Berinert
  • Guaranteeing the availability of one year's supply of Berinert to the first 1,000 patients who opt in to the B.E.N. program
2.  Comprehensive service and support on insurance and reimbursement  – B.E.N. will help patients address such issues and questions as prior authorizations, coverage appeals and letters of medical necessity

3.  Educational resources and tools – B.E.N. will provide resources to help patients manage their Berinert therapy, including a journal, patient ID card and magnet with key phone numbers

4.  Assurance and Assistance -- Serving the rare disease communities for years, the CSL Behring Assurance and Assistance Programs, working through B.E.N., will ensure that:

  • Patients who experience a lapse in third-party, private health insurance can access Berinert
  • Qualified patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or who cannot afford their prescribed therapy can obtain Berinert.
"The Berinert Expert Network is an excellent example of CSL Behring's commitment to going 'above and beyond' for patients and healthcare professionals by offering innovative products and high-quality support programs designed to meet their needs," said Robert Lefebvre, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Commercial Operations at CSL Behring. "B.E.N. will ensure that individuals in the HAE community, including healthcare providers, patients and their caregivers, have access to Berinert and will have a single point-of-contact to assist with helping them to manage their medical condition."

Until the approval of Berinert, patients with HAE in the U.S. did not have a safe and effective treatment option that rapidly relieved the symptoms of acute attacks in the face and abdomen. In clinical trials, the median time to onset of relief with Berinert was 48 minutes as compared to more than 4 hours with placebo.

HAE can be an isolating health condition, but B.E.N will help patients connect with medical experts who can provide much needed information about their condition, and details on Berinert.

In addition, through B.E.N., HAE patients will be able connect with other patients via the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA). In this way, patients can benefit from additional valuable programs and resources designed for and by people with HAE.  

For more information on B.E.N. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call toll-free 1-877-BEN-4HAE (1-877-236-4423).

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

2,200 sales positions at GSK shifted to Asia-Pacific & emerging markets as part of 'growth strategy'

GlaxoSmithKline has put a twist on pharma's strategy of slashing sales reps to improve the earnings outlook, reallocating the positions to emerging markets.

Last year, the company announced a 12% reduction in sales forces.  In a third-quarter earnings presentation recapping the firm's return to top-line growth, CEO Andrew Witty said his company's growth strategy involves shifting some of those US and European sales roles over to Asia-Pacific and emerging markets.

“Just over the last year or so,” the chief executive said in a Web video, “we've reduced by around 2,200 the number of sales personnel in our established western markets, and we've increased by around 2,200 the number of sales personnel in our emerging and Asia-Pacific markets—that's a good example of how we are reallocating resources to go for growth.”

Click here or on the image to watch Andrew Witty discuss the latest progress of GSK's strategic priorities in a video entitled, "Progress With Strategy."

The shifts are reflected in quarterly sales, up 3% overall, 25% in emerging markets and 19% in Japan.  That's due to growth in pandemic flu vaccine and anti-viral Relenza, which is getting more government orders for swine flu, along with devices.

Meanwhile, growth is moderating in mature regions.  Less than a third of total sales came from the “small white pills/Western markets” of the US and Europe, the company said.

The company is also executing on its pipeline.  In the last two weeks, it has received FDA approvals for cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, oncology drug Votrient and Arzerra for oncology and rheuatmoid arthritis.  Recent data on lupus drug Benlysta, with partner Human Genome Sciences, also look interesting.

As Witty sees it, simplifying the business model will remain a strong focus:  “We continue to look for ways to drive greater efficiency and disinvest in areas which we believe no longer serve us well."

We at STINSON Brand Innovation continue to watch developments like this as we expand our branding assignments in China, India, and more -- read more in the year-end “Global Issue” of our Accelerate newsletter.

Monday, February 01, 2010

iPhone meets genome at Illumina

With employees spread across five continents, effective mobile communications are essential for Illumina, a San Diego, CA-based biotechnology company that designs breakthrough tools for genetic analysis. Using iPhone, sales reps can track customers, executives can manage employees, and everyone can stay in touch. And soon Illumina will make it possible for consumers to carry their personal genomes with them on iPhone.

This is one of many enterprise profiles presented on Apple’s website.

iPhone was an obvious technology choice, says Jay Flatley, Illumina's President and CEO. "First and foremost, it's a great phone. But what our employees need goes well beyond that. They need a computer in their hands that can do calculations and data searches, and can manage sales using SalesForce Mobile. Because of the flexibility of the interface, iPhone was the ideal tool for us."

With iPhone apps like Workday HR management software and Cisco WebEx Meeting Center, Illumina executives can do everything from tracking payroll to participating in meetings wherever they are. "iPhone has improved the overall productivity of people at Illumina," says Scott Kahn, Illumina's Chief Information Officer. "It's rare that you deploy a tool and don't get any negative feedback. But with iPhone, the first response is usually 'Thank you.'"

Easy Integration

Deploying iPhone within Illumina's existing IT infrastructure couldn't be easier. Using iPhone Configuration Utility, the IT staff can push configuration profiles for their virtual private network (VPN) and enforce passcodes to secure each device. Setting up iPhone to leverage Exchange capabilities is as simple as double-clicking a configuration file, says Scott Skellenger, Senior Director of Global IT Operations. "All we have to do is direct the phone to the Exchange server and input the user's credentials, and they're off and running."

"iPhone has definitely delivered for Illumina," Kahn agrees. "We found it to be an enterprise-ready device primarily because of the security features. Having the ability to remotely wipe the device was key. It also had to have Exchange, and it needed to be web savvy. On iPhone, those features alone opened the door."

Illumina sees even more business benefits with the latest iPhone software and hardware. "Improvements such as cut-and-paste and the device-wide search capability have added extraordinary value," Skellenger says. "With iPhone 3.0 software, we're able to search our emails, access the global address list in a seamless way, and calendar as if we were sitting at our desks."

The Mobile Personal Genome

For Illumina, iPhone is more than a great mobile business device - it's the delivery platform for an ambitious new approach to personalized medicine.

"Illumina is developing an iPhone application that will allow consumers to carry around their genomic information," Flatley explains. "Part of it may be on the phone itself, part of it may be in the cloud that the phone would have access to. It would allow the customer to bring up the application and interact with it live in conjunction with their doctor."

The iPhone SDK has been extremely easy to work with, Flatley says. Though Illumina's developers had never written an iPhone application before, they were able to produce a fully functional prototype of the application within just ten days. When completed, the final application will allow the company to present complex genomic datasets in an easy-to-understand, consumer-oriented interface.

"The understanding of the human genome, which is very inaccessible to most people, can start to become accessible through iPhone," Flatley says. "It will be a mechanism for communications, for sharing, and for data management. iPhone can translate something very complicated into something very user-friendly." At Illumina, the convergence of science with iPhone is helping transform the future of individual health care.

Click here to watch a video of iPhone in action at Illumina.