Building a Brand Architecture from the Outside-in
College of American Pathologists
The College of American Pathologists (CAP) is the world's largest association composed exclusively of pathologists. It serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating best practices in pathology and laboratory medicine. Through self-assessment of its portfolio of offerings, it determined that a number of pressing issues needed to be addressed. Specifically, the assessment called into question the usefulness of some of its current brands, the alignment between brands and the commercial efforts they were intended to support, inconsistencies in the ways the brands were being activated in the market, and the number of resources being invested against many of its brands. CAP asked FullSurge to address these issues and determine the right strategic path forward. Namely, it was seeking to identify a comprehensive and systematic approach toward architecting the entire enterprise and its offers from a go-to-market perspective.
To take a pragmatic, yet market-driven approach, FullSurge defined hypotheses based on distinct organizing principles for the portfolio and then used them to guide market research with key stakeholder groups. The hypotheses included both internally driven approaches that organized the portfolio in more intuitive ways, as well as those that were more externally oriented and structured the portfolio around audience types and need-states. To enhance the research 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 stakeholders viewed the category and framed the different problems they were trying to solve. Collectively, the insights helped us hone-in on an optimal architecture for the association.
Following research, we conducted several work sessions—guided by objective criteria—with internal 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 an improved way of viewing the portfolio—namely, one that was more relevant to how audiences navigated offers; better expressed the breadth of the portfolio; and 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 with an eye toward immediately implementing the strategy.
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.
FullSurge presented the strategy to the association’s Board of Governors, and it was enthusiastically approved. Next steps were clarified to advance the strategy and begin developing value propositions for the key categories identified in the architecture.
"We have worked together for several years, developing a new brand architecture for our organization. Taking an established brand and moving it to a new level while retaining its integrity and resonance are not easy tasks. FullSurge understands intimately how to do this in ways that ensure success. They listen well, respond to constructive feedback, and always act in true partnership to advance their clients' interests. Highly valuable counsel!"