Today the success of a brand is no longer about just owning an asset or executing an identi-kit launch plan. Success comes from designing external engagements to anticipate change and to encourage strategic innovation.
At many internal meetings and launch events I’ve heard senior brand leaders eulogizing about the need to win. “We must win in all patients…”. “We must have a winning mindset…”. This type of language is usually designed to hide a lack of understanding about the brand’s true source of advantage and where should it should compete.
When we reduce brand strategy to “winning” and “beating competitors” we diminish the importance of the challenge in front of us. A progressive brand strategy should be about advancing clinical practice and defining the role of the brand in this future state.
But this needs a dynamic view. Over time a brand’s positional advantage can erode or its benefits become vulnerable. Just like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, brands need to run just to stay in the same place.
Long term success for a brand is about being at the forefront of changes to the regulatory, clinical and economic environment. The brands that will be successful are those that can anticipate changes and invest in activities that will develop a unique strategic position.
But how do brands build this perspective? Co-creation partnerships with external experts and other multi-stakeholder groups provide a mechanism to encourage long-term strategic innovation.
Co-creation represents a huge change to how pharma typically operates with external experts. It means working alongside advisors, in partnership, to develop the long-term brand strategy. It’s about resetting expectations of the relationship between pharma and the wider health community. It requires an authentic and open dialogue based on mutual value and shared goals, not just those of the brand. It means working together to improve the quality of care for all patients.
The first step in developing co-creation partnership is to jointly define an ambitious long-term purpose that will galvanize and focus engagement. This focus must be driven by the shared ambition for the community as a whole, not just for the needs of the brand. Advisors understand that pharma companies have a commercial requirement however too often brand teams only engage on tactical activities that are directly related to short-term goals.
Pharma needs to think bigger, think more long-term about the direction of a brand and the strategic relationships with external advisors across the full lifecycle. This may mean working and investing in areas that are not directly relevant for the brand today – that is the spirit of partnership – however the future opportunity presented by a closer, balanced relationship provides a different platform for developing strategic success.