Business and Marketing

Condition Branding – An Unethical Marketing Practice

Condition branding, also known as symptom branding or ailment branding, is a marketing strategy where companies create products to match specific conditions.

They do this by associating their brand with a particular health issue or problem, making consumers believe that their product is the ultimate solution.

Condition Branding is a strategic marketing and sales approach that ensures your chosen brand has the best image to communicate with your desired customer effectively. When used correctly, a brand can convey the “desired” perception of your goods and/or services.

In this article, we will understand more about the term ‘condition branding’ and why this is considered an unethical and money-minded activity.

What is Condition Branding?

The practice of condition branding can loosely be described as inventing a disease after a drug has already been created. This is not only an unnecessary process, but it turns natural parts of life that people have lived with throughout history into scientific diseases that can only be cured through prescription drugs.

Two ways pharmaceutical companies effectively use condition branding is by creating disease and renaming symptoms that have been around for years, making them more socially acceptable. There are two reasons that condition branding should not be allowed, the obvious being that it leads to wasteful spending by the general public.

The other is because it allows hypochondriacs to feel as though they need to take a particular drug to fix a disease that is not having a tremendous impact on their life and could lead to more harmful side effects than the minor conditions they are experiencing.

How does Condition Branding work?

The first component of condition branding is creating a “new” disease and then developing a drug or treatment for it. This can be seen in illnesses such as Seasonal Affective Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. With each condition created effectively, a whole market segment pursues nonsense diseases solely to prey on their money and vulnerability.

For example, the treatments for social anxiety disorder, also known as shyness, range from benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium to Serotonin Inhibitors such as Paxil, Prozac, or Lexapro. All these pills would be taken simply for the patient to relieve shyness, a very reasonable part of life that everyone has had to deal with in some form or another since the beginning of time.

The average one-month supply of a pill such as Xanax will cost the patient around 100 dollars, if not more, and this also varies based on health insurance policies. This is not only a very pricy way to cure shyness; however, the side effects that one could experience after taking Xanax is not worth it to fix a simple case of shyness. These side effects are chest pain, blurred vision, insomnia, jaundice, seizure, confusion, thoughts of suicide, or no fear of danger.

These side effects aren’t worth the risk of taking a drug only for someone slightly less outgoing than the average person. This is just one example that shows pharmaceutical companies taking clear advantage of uneducated customers willing to pay anything to fix diseases created to make money for the company.

The second way condition branding can be carried out is by creating a new name for a disease that allows it to feel more socially acceptable. This can clearly be seen in the creation of the disorders of overactive bladder and erectile dysfunction, or ED. These conditions were formerly uncomfortable to talk about with a doctor, so they rarely get brought up or treated. For example, when someone regularly and uncontrollably soils their pants, they are too embarrassed to discuss it with their doctor.

However, by creating an overactive bladder, pharmaceutical companies made people think it was not their fault, and it was simply “ A supercharged organ frantically working overtime”. Also stated in this article was a fact stating that the creation of the overactive bladder has led to the creation of a market with 21 million new people. This leads to my point that condition branding can lead to very wasteful spending.

Of those 21 million people, many probably have a bladder in perfectly working condition; however, because of the commercials constantly seen on television, they are forced to think about it every time they head to the bathroom. Those people will then go to their doctor, who will gladly prescribe them medication for a condition created so that pharmaceutical companies could flourish.

Not to mention the side effects that can be seen from a drug such as Detrol, which treats overactive bladder, can lead to chest pain, confusion, hallucination, and lack of or painful urination. Erectile Dysfunction allows for the same thing to happen, only this time involving an organ essential to procreation. Something that used to be attributed to the lack of libido is now a massive market for prescription drugs that are making pharmaceutical companies millions.

Creating this disease allowed men to believe that what once was considered to make them less of a man was a simple dysfunction in their bodies. However, by exposing themselves to some drugs such as Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis, the patients allow their bodies to be exposed to risky side effects such as loss of vision, chest pain, loss of hearing, fainting, or even a prolonged erection.

Patients put their bodies at risk for serious side effects to cure a disease created as a money grab for pharmaceutical companies. Since drug companies have made these diseases more socially acceptable, it hurts consumers because instead of having a slightly embarrassing problem, they put their bodies at significant risk for unnecessary side effects and spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars yearly on medication for a created disease.

Why Condition Branding is Unethical?

Now, you might be wondering why this is considered unethical, right? Well, the main reason is that it preys on people’s vulnerabilities and emotions. By capitalizing on their health issues and promising a cure-all solution, companies take advantage of individuals who are seeking relief or a better quality of life.

Think about it. When someone is struggling with a particular health problem, they are often desperate for a solution. They might try anything and everything to alleviate their symptoms or find a cure. And that’s where condition branding swoops in, offering false hope and sometimes even dangerous products.

It’s important to note that not all products associated with conditions or symptoms are necessarily unethical. There are legitimate products out there that genuinely help people. However, the problem arises when companies exaggerate or exploit these associations to sell products that are ineffective or potentially harmful.


I think the actual disease here is the condition branding itself. It is a disease that quickly spreading like wildfire through all types of drugs, conditions, and companies. It needs to be stopped for various reasons, such as wasteful spending and many side effects that could temporarily or permanently harm your body.

Essentially, I am trying to say condition branding, while great for business and advertising, is a harmful practice that should be outlawed for the greater good of the public.

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