Why Optimize Your Brand and When

Once upon a time business schools taught that once established, brand positioning was set in stone.

Well, those days are long gone.  Competition has never been more intense than right now.  Markets are in perpetual motion, constantly turbulent and changing.  It really is about survival of the fittest.   As Charles Darwin would tell you, “Today, adaptation is a necessity for survival.”  Brand optimization is a tool for commercial adaptation.

Pharmaceutical brands are no exception in this respect.  Rx brands can be optimized to enhance revenues anywhere in the product lifecycle — even as late as two years from patent expiration. Brand optimization keeps your brand relevant and deters revenue erosion.  Brand optimization is about making the necessary minor “tweaks” to either the brand positioning or messaging to maximize performance.

Brand optimization is needed to help your brand adapt to changes in the competitive environment as standard of care shifts, new clinical data becomes available, competitive products are introduced, etc.  Because constant innovation is mandatory for survival and success, brand optimization is equally necessary.  There are a number of considerations that point the way to optimization as the right course of action.

Optimize the Brand whenever the competitive landscape changes as in the following circumstances:

Brand perception is not crystal clear

Target audience perception of the brand is not clear. Brand perception may not be negative, but the brand may not be seen as strong and prescribers are indifferent to what the brand can deliver for them. In this case, current product positioning is not differentiated which means it’s failed or failing. If prescribers cannot see any reason to use your brand over a competitor’s either the positioning has been compromised or brand strategies have failed to clearly define the brand position for prescribers.  Unless promptly addressed, this situation creates increased uncertainty and certain risk of eroding revenues.  This brand is a candidate to be optimized.

Brand image tarnished

If prescribers don’t see any difference between your brand and your competitor’s and the two are seen as delivering the same benefit, those brands are perceived as interchangeable.  In this situation either your positioning has been compromised or the strategies employed have failed to clearly define the brand position in the minds of prescribers.

Strategic direction changes

Sales and market share can erode when a category becomes too crowded. This requires a shift in strategic direction coupled with brand optimization.  Market circumstances and brand lifecycle often require changes in strategic direction that must be matched by a realignment of brand positioning.

New competitor(s) or change in competitor’s positioning

Your best competitors are always looking for ways to capture more sales.  This may lead to a change in the competitors’ brand positioning, moving it closer to the position held by your brand and blurring your key point of distinction. The impact on your brand’s equity may be negative and the value of your positioning may be compromised.

No longer meets prescriber or patient needs

Both time and new competitive entries cause markets to evolve.  Prescribing audiences evolve as well often changing their needs and wants.  If the brand fails to recognize these changes and fails to migrate the positioning to satisfy the prescriber’s evolving needs, it becomes stagnant and that can cause a disconnect.  Successful brands are optimized to remain relevant to prescribers and patients.

Traumatic event

This is about damage control should a traumatic event impact your brand’s perception.  Frankly, no one is prepared for the possibility that their brand will cause harm or injury.  But it doesn’t mean that can’t happen.  This event may not even be the fault of your brand (think tampering) you may be responsible for damage control and repair. Brand image may be tarnished and the only way to restore prescriber comfort is by optimizing the brand.

Being taken for granted

When sales are stagnant and declining, prescribers / patients may be taking the brand for granted or worse, irrelevant.  Brand optimization is an opportunity to spur growth and excitement in the brand.  As a brand matures in its lifecycle, its interest and relevance to prescribers / patients changes.  Optimization gives prescribers / patients reasons to think about your brand again.

Brand optimization:  A key to brand success

The need for brand optimization takes on greater urgency as markets become more fluid and competition more relentless. Recognize when your brand is failing to perform as expected and make bold, decisive steps to recover.  Successful optimization occurs by evaluating the market factors that have changed, recognizing changes in the competitive set and the needs/desires of your target audiences. 

Do not fail to act, but always look before you leap.  

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