Brand Positioning Frameworks in the Life Sciences: Built to Last or Last to Build?
Is there any doubt that the life sciences provider field is overcrowded to the point that vendors have to do everything they can to win new business and hold onto what they have with a grip that’s white-knuckle tight? Offering the right products and services alone isn’t enough.
Competitive price points and touting an impressive customer base alone might be pieces of the puzzle, but alone won’t get the job done.
Success requires a highly differentiating brand positioning framework. This article introduces the concept and use of brand positioning frameworks; subsequent articles will deliver the details of how to create effective frameworks and how to make them work in the field.
Components of a brand positioning framework
A brand positioning framework comprises a positioning statement, key messages, supporting proof points, and customer value propositions; and together, this framework succinctly and uniquely describes what your business offers and for whom, how your business is different, and what value you provide your customers (Figure 1). Your brand positioning is something you have to strategically identify, develop, embody, and promote in order to be successful today.
Figure 1. Composition of a brand positioning framework.
A positioning statement is a 35-word (approximately) concise and clear overarching company statement that answers the following questions to effectively position the company in the sales prospect’s head:
- What type of organization are you? (eg, a top 10 CRO)
- Who is your target customer? (eg, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies)
- What products/services do you offer? (eg, end-to-end drug development services)
- What is the value of your products/services/expertise? (eg, take your compound to market and beyond)
- What makes your business and products/services unique? (eg, the only company that can provide end-to-end drug development services with a common, integrated data stream)
These are impactful, targeted, and succinct differentiation statements designed to dovetail the positioning statement and further validate its claims. Key messages typically expound upon one or more of the power words contained within the positioning statement.
- Example: Company XYZ, a CRO, works with many of the world’s largest drug companies, spanning over 110 countries
Proof points substantiate messages and the positioning statement and quantify or validate all claims.
- Example: Company XYZ works with Pfizer, Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Abbott and others
Key messages and positioning statements Include supporting bullet points that help substantiate the claim(s) made in each statement. Both key messages and a positioning statement need proof points.
It answers the “so what?” for the positioning statement and each key message. In other words, once your positioning statement or key message is read, the value proposition further explains what it means for the customer.
- Example: Company XYZ is a highly proven organization that you can trust, and they are in every major country so they can support you wherever you need them
Battle test your framework
Once you’ve created your framework (the process will be detailed in a future article), you need to battle test it throughout your sales and marketing channels, eg, websites, call scripts, advertisements, and public relation materials, before the framework goes live. To do this, hold a series of conversations with your most respected customers and partners. Run the messaging by them and ask them for their opinion of how well it describes and differentiates your firm. You can even turn this into a more formal process by having them fill out an online survey through SurveyMonkey, for example, or by holding formal focused groups.
Ingrain your brand position framework
Your brand positioning framework must be communicated to all key constituents, internally and externally.
Internally: The marketing, sales, customer support, and even operations teams need to be aware of your company’s new brand positioning so they can effectively communicate your business’s key messages and differentiation when speaking with clients and prospects. You want all of your customer-facing employees singing from the same hymnal to ensure company-wide message consistency. When a customer or prospect speaks with several people within the organization, they should be hearing the same messages.
Externally: It’s important to introduce your new brand positioning to any strategic partners to ensure consistent messaging. After all, your partners are an extension of your business.
Properly created and applied, your brand positioning framework is a powerful asset that can and has to be leveraged throughout all of your sales and marketing channels, including, but not limited to:
- Tradeshow booth and materials
- Sales and marketing collateral materials
- Sales/bid defense presentations
- Company website
- Advertising releases
- Public relations
- Email communications
This article was intended to introduce you to the notion of brand positioning and the power of a brand positioning framework. In the next article, we’ll dive deeper into the development of your framework and the many channels where you can leverage your messaging to differentiate your organization and increase sales.
- Levi, K. Differentiate or Diminish: The Art and Necessity of Brand Positioning. 2011.
- Brand Positioning Forum. Insights, tools, and information on brand positioning elements, best practices, and strategies.
- Moore, G. Crossing the Chasm. Haper Collins: New York, NY; 2002.
- Life Science Branding and Marketing Network
Kevin B. Levi is owner of Winning Message LLC and Brand Positioning Do it Yourself! He was formerly the Senior Manager of Strategic Customer Messaging for a top 3 global CRO. Today he helps life sciences and B2B technology companies differentiate themselves and drive more business.
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