Case Studies

Structuring a Portfolio to Clarify Its Breadth

Developing a comprehensive brand architecture of a medical association


A thorough assessment of the company’s portfolio revealed key issues that needed to be addressed, including:

  • Questions about the usefulness of current brands
  • Inordinate resources spent on brands with insignificant returns
  • Brands not organized to reinforce strategies or commercial efforts
  • Identities communicated in inconsistent and ineffective ways under-utilizing the corporate brand, confusing customers/members, and sub-optimizing commercial efforts

To address these issues and set the right strategic path forward, the institution needed a comprehensive approach toward architecting the entire enterprise and its offers from a go-to-market perspective.


To take a pragmatic, yet market-driven approach, we defined three likely hypotheses based on distinct organizing principals for the portfolio and used them to guide research with stakeholders. The hypotheses spanned from internally-driven approaches that organized the portfolio in more intuitive ways to those that were more externally oriented that structured the portfolio around audience types and need-states. To enhance the interviews, we combined examples from well-known companies and the client’s business for each organizing principle. This technique proved to be very effective in unearthing insights around how customers shopped the category and framed different problems they were trying to solve for– all of which helped us zero in on an optimal architecture for the client’s company.

Following research, we conducted several work sessions, guided by objective criteria, with client teams that represented different areas of the business. After a thorough vetting process, we arrived at an architecture that combined audience segments with need-states and added a third dimension that allowed for solutions as overlays. The framework provided great clarity to an improved way of viewing and developing the future portfolio – one that was more relevant to how audiences navigated offers, one that better expressed the breadth of the portfolio, and one that allowed for future growth. As a final step, we demonstrated how the architecture would play out in actual communications, as well as which areas would be most important to tackle in the coming year to begin implementing the strategy.


The strategy was presented by FullSurge and enthusiastically approved by the institution’s Board of Governors. Next steps were clarified to advance the strategy and begin developing value propositions for the key categories identified in the architecture.


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