Pharma Web Branding, Part 1 – Pfizer

I’ve spent a good portion of my career working with pharmaceutical companies on training and marketing initiatives, often including elements of web design.

Since a public website is a major opportunity to express one’s brand, I thought I’d examine the websites of a number of the larger pharma companies and critique how effectively they brand themselves – through logo, tagline, web interface structural design, and look/feel.

Today – Pfizer.

Pfizer has managed, over the last 10 years, to emerge as the largest pharmaceutical company through aggressive and disciplined marketing and sales (as well as strategic acquisitions). Their logo is well-known and is reasonably effective – the design is simple, easy on the eyes, and, if not inspired, certainly inoffensive. The current tagline, however – “Working for a healthier world” – is a snoozer. It could easily be swapped out with most of the other pharma taglines, all of which sound pretty much the same. They all tend to transmit the same safe themes – but I guess none of them would gain fans if they came out with “Medical Advances that Maximize Profits,” so we’re going to be stuck with the altruistic buzzwords.

The public website suffers from boring busy-ness. There is simply too much information up front. The interface uses the “Boxes and Bullet Points” structure, with so many choices that it does not draw in the visitor. This website is an attempt to give people the maximum number of destinations, but by putting Who We Are / What We Do / How We Help boxes (each with 4 choices underneath), ranged next to an imposing list of all their prescription products, visual overload is inevitable. The approach with this site design is: Here’s Pfizer! All of us! Take your pick! It’s a company-centric, not user-centric interface.

While the site does have some human faces, they don’t draw in, because the graphic is not being used to tell a story. It’s actually more of a boast (See? We help people who don’t have coverage!), which is a turn-off instead of a come-hither.

The use of color – particular, various shades of blue – is pretty boring, and the site does not cohere well on look/feel. It feels chopped-up instead of integrated. There’s no clear message, and no elements that really make me want to explore.

If I were to recommend a re-design for this site, I’d say bury the names of the medicines, and focus instead on the conditions treated. Put a patient story right up front. Figure out one or two main, engaging messages, and give them prominence. Find a way to have news and features, but not in the poorly formatted and tiresome list fashion shown at the bottom of the page. And change the navigation structure, so that choices can be made in a more natural sequence. The site needs an interface weight-loss program – simplicity is better than showing everything at once.

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One Response to Pharma Web Branding, Part 1 – Pfizer

  1. Pingback: Pharma Web Branding, Part 2 - GlaxoSmithKline « StickyFigure

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