When Was the Last Time Your Brand Had Its Physical Exam?

Positioning is a strategic asset that is vital to optimizing commercial performance of a brand. It must be singular in its promise, simple in its delivery, and compelling enough to drive action. It must also capture a unique place in the minds of customers.

We’ve all read the books and attended the seminars, but the harsh truth in today’s fast-paced world of pharma is that once completed, a brand’s positioning is often relegated to a page that sits in a binder on the shelf (or in the digital age, buried amongst files of reports and slide decks). If you’ve ever been involved in taking a brand to market, ask yourself what ever happened to the positioning post-launch?

As markets and competitive landscapes evolve, positioning tends to remain unchanged. Now, if you’ve been keeping up with our tips, you’ll know that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We don’t often recommend making drastic changes to the positioning (repositioning) unless absolutely warranted. However, fine tuning and optimization along the way ensures that this invaluable strategic asset is in its best shape to work for your brand. This is the missed opportunity that can take brands from good to great!

An Optimization Assessment of your brand’s positioning is a great place to start the process. Importantly, it can be conducted quickly and cost effectively. Think of it as a robust physical examination of your positioning’s health.

Have you gone back to look at your positioning since launch? If not, the simple answer is that your brand is overdue for a check-up. Other triggers include: changes in the competitive landscape, shifts in market dynamics, or anticipated label changes. An assessment is not a pivot in focus, in other words it is not “repositioning.” It is a great tool to make your existing statement the best it can be.

To assess your current positioning a number of questions must be addressed, starting with:

1. Target: Who is the primary target? Who is the secondary target? (and why?)
2. Insight: What tension or problem is the brand going to solve?
3. Competitive Framework: What competitive product, action or behavior should your brand replace?
4. Benefit: What is the unique promise of the brand, both functionally and emotionally?
5. Reason(s) to Believe:  Why should the target audience(s)believe this Brand can deliver its promise?

The examination then continues to assess the variance between what was intended, how that is being expressed, and ultimately what perceptions it’s creating in the real-world. Ideally, all three of these points should fall very close to one another. However, we commonly see these points plotted as a triangle-illustrating an opportunity to infuse focus.

The examination closes with a listing of recommendations to improve the overall health of your brand’s positioning to ensure its longevity and prosperousness. This includes aiding the brand team in identifying the product specific perceptual goals, that allow the brand to work towards realizing its full potential. These perceptual goals are typically characterized in 4 categories:

1. Creating the need
2. Fulfilling the need
3. Creating value
4. Capturing value

Together they work to outline a path, delivering a high-order benefit that can be sustainable over the lifecycle of the brand.

The takeaway here is that, although your positioning should not change drastically from launch year to year five, it should be monitored very closely. Much like our personal health, many brands still have room for improvement and you should not settle for less. Potential red flags should be highlighted and addressed early, before they are allowed to develop into malignancies.