All too often, even the most carefully designed—and historically successful—brand strategies may falter as they meet with new audiences. These new audiences can be critical targets, but they’re beyond the sphere for which the brand was initially positioned. As a result, the brand’s value doesn’t quite come across, and ROI declines. In many instances, the solution may be proactively positioning your brand to speak to multiple audiences – those of today and those of the future.

To accomplish this, we can use just a little bit of audience research to land a serviceable positioning hypothesis very quickly. For instance, we can evaluate all existing touchpoints and cast key messages against those of competitors. The goal of this mapping exercise is to understand what, exactly, is the brand’s current positioning.

Reliably, there are instructive takeaways. For example, you might find that there isn’t much of a common theme beyond clinical evidence (powerful, to be sure, but more functional than anything else). Is the same cluttered mass of data being shown for each audience, as opposed to how the brand uniquely helps each one?

What’s needed is a larger strategy that explains how novel indications, combinations, or legacy treatment approaches expand upon the umbrella brand story. These individual narratives need to be part of a bigger promise, rather than fighting smaller, individual battles for share. And, most importantly, they must be future-proofed to work with new audiences, expanded indications, and a growing competitive set.

To help home in on what that larger promise can be, we might deploy quick-turn pulse research, claims data, social listening, or secondary sources. Why? Today, there is no shortage of data. But it does not matter unless we make the right connections with it. We look across many data sources to connect the unexpected dots that tell us what is really happening. And then, we need to look at many other context clues to understand why things are happening. Sometimes that means connecting more dots … other times, it means surfacing entirely new dots. The result? Hybrid insights that give us a complete picture of the landscape, of audience mindsets and needs, and of signals for where things may trend in the coming years.

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The results are critical, and here’s why. It’s difficult to demonstrate clear differentiation and advantages against competitors within your class and among other therapeutic options when your entire brand position is steeped only in outcomes evidence. But if you look within the context clues of the activities described above, you can find gestures toward more emotive postures and inclinations that your brand can align with. For example, beyond prescribe an efficacious drug, what are providers really looking to do for their patients? What are their deeper, emotional goals? What’s going to most satisfy them and their patients alike?

Our hybrid insights are crucial inputs to identify the brand’s potential. Ultimately, we articulate a clear place for the brand to connect with customers and to take advantage of the powerful feelings that move humans into action. This helps you establish a brand position that is:

  • Authentic (it’s us)
  • Unique (it’s not them)
  • Desirable (it’s needed and wanted)


Positioning is about choices: where you will play versus avoid, whom will you target and what challenges must be overcome. Positioning defines a clear place for the brand to exist in our customers’ minds that is differentiating and compelling. Positioning should be based on customer needs and how the brand uniquely meets those needs. The synthesis of work to this point should leave you with a compelling, evergreen positioning strategy that will serve as the basis for the brand and its actions moving forward.

But that fortified positioning still allows for flexibility. After a lead message, support message, and reasons to believe (RTBs), you can craft audience-specific messaging. So, we don’t position for multiple audiences; we position for the brand. We position to protect the brand from competitive encroachment. We position to the amplify the brand’s point of difference. And then, we get audience-specific in the messaging strategy—and bring that positioning to life.

Connecting your brand and audiences requires persuasive articulation of a premise, promise and proof to seed the desired motivation. Focusing on the unique needs of each target group will then be a driver to delivering bespoke messages and content under an umbrella brand messaging strategy.

And while the positioning is a bit more timeless, your brand’s messages and content are certainly more timely, to resonate with the ever-changing context of what’s now and what’s next.

About the Author:

Carolyn Stephenson is SVP of Strategy for Syneos Health Communications. Her unique healthcare perspective is complemented by nearly 20 years of strategy expertise across sectors as varied as retail, financial services and higher education. She has built nationally recognized branding, digital, content and commerce programs for brands like JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide Insurance, EXPRESS, as well as on the agency side with Ologie and SBC Advertising. Her work has been spotlighted in industry publications like Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer, and even featured on an NBC reality television show (Fashion Star). But her passion for healthcare is palpable: she’s also a Certified Hormone Specialist and a Precision Nutrition Coach.