Pharma Web Branding, Part 2 – GlaxoSmithKline

In my continuing series on how pharmaceutical companies engage the public with their brand on their website homepages, this week we’ll take a look at http://www.gsk.com (last week was Pfizer’s turn!)

gsk-logo.jpgGlaxo became a Top-5 pharma company through a merger strategy. SmithKline Beecham joined Glaxo Wellcome to create…well, you know the tale. Merger mouthful. Most people now find it easier to refer to the company as “Glaxo” or as “GSK” – my bias is well-known about munging together a bunch of legacy names to come up with a run-on-sentence for a name.

And, I will admit, that when the merger occurred and the new GSK logo was unveiled, I found it to be an underwhelming moment in marketing. My first impression: an orange guitar pick. And to this day, that is all I see.

Turning to the public website, in the browser title bar we see this tagline: “Improving health and quality of life.” As with so many pharma companies, absolutely bland, obvious, and non-distinguishing. That phrase could be used about bottled water, vitamins, exercise machines, and a book on therapeutic massage. Sigh.

Nonetheless, the website itself has some reasonably engaging design features. Unlike Pfizer’s, panned last week for trying to say too much, the current GSK site presents a compelling “story” front-and-center: The Menace of Malaria. The two brief blurbs, with accompanying graphics (the mosquito is very effective), draw the reader in to explore further. By focusing on ONE thing that GSK is actively working on, the site makes it easier to dig in.

Of necessity, for a major pharmaceutical company, there are many links and potential destinations, and this site does a pretty good job using smaller navigational areas to direct the users to various areas of interest. The drop-down boxes toward the bottom right are a particularly effective way to give choices without an overwhelming, in-your-face list. Since there are so many choices, it might be a good idea to use simple rollover technology to provide brief snippets of information when people mouse-over the menu items (for instance, why would I want to take the survey?)

Below the graphic shown here are some other helpful links, including recent news releases, Quick Links, up-to-the-minute stock prices, and an RSS feed for newsreaders (every company should be doing this nowadays).

Yes, the site is a bit busy, and the type quite small in many places, but for a company this size, it’s difficult to know what to leave out on the home page. GSK has done an admirable job making a large amount of information accessible without it being overwhelming.

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