Insights in health & wellness branding


Living the Brand Position

29 May 2019   |   Laura Bartmess

Everyone can recite what makes a strong position. It must be differentiating, motivating, sustaining, emotional, relevant, etc., etc., etc.

As marketers, we spend a good chunk of time and energy zeroing in on the optimal brand position, and rightly so. We take everything we’ve learned from market research, landscape analyses, competitive workshops, and countless strategy discussions, then layer on insights from KOLs and average prescribers. Of course, there are also multiple internal stakeholders sharing their expertise (and sometimes biases), debating along the way about what’s important and achievable, dissecting every word and nuance.

And we come out on the other end with a well-crafted, finely-tuned statement that is then cleanly put on a slide for the final presentation.

For most agency people, positioning is essentially when the fun starts. It’s the springboard for creative ideation, message development, and the foundation for all marketing efforts across channels. But it’s critical to remember that identifying a position isn’t merely a step in the process. Rather, it’s the main road through the process. The messaging, the brand hallmarks and the sales strategy are incredibly important, but if they aren’t all reaching up to a bigger goal, then the brand is sure to get lost along the way, or at least have a very disjointed story.

To ensure the positioning stays relevant and strong, here are a few things to consider.

  • Make sure everyone is aligned and stays aligned. It’s very easy for silos to form and sub-strategies to take center stage, but everyone should be actively collaborating to ensure that every initiative is working to achieve the higher brand vision.
  • Take individual responsibility. While building a position is a team sport, living the position is an individual duty to the brand. Drink the Kool-Aid and ask yourself – is the work you’re doing solidifying that position with customers, and how can you be doing it better?
  • Question strategy and execution, not just the position. Many times, when a brand isn’t performing well, people will ask if the position is wrong. Of course, this is a good place to look, but first we should ask if we’re really doing what we need to do to own our position. Is the messaging story designed to advance the position, and how so? Are we telling the story to the right people in the right channels to own our brand’s position?
  • Listen to customer insights in the context of the brand position. For example, what are the ATUs telling you? How can you use that information to further the brand promise?
  • Review the position regularly. And take the time to talk about it with stakeholders. Sometimes your position may be off, or a new competitor has successfully taken your position away from you. Be honest if it’s time for a reboot.

Remember that positioning is not a “one and done,” nor is it just a statement on a slide. If that’s the only place you can find it, then you’re not living your position, you’re memorializing it.

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About the Author

Laura Bartmess, SVP, Account Director, has more than 26 years of agency experience in healthcare marketing, with a focus on rare disease. She’s well aware that the time spent in airports, hotels, and rental car parking lots while traveling on business brings a fountain of funny, odd, and disturbing stories – some are even worth retelling. Outside of the office, Laura enjoys cooking, traveling, writing and enjoying Chicago with her husband and two young kids.