In our work with pharmaceutical brand teams, one of the most common points of confusion is in the difference between a brand’s ‘positioning’ and its ‘value proposition’. We have often seen marketers using these terms interchangeably, and we have sat through too many tedious meetings where teams are unable to accomplish their objectives because they could not agree on the difference.Before teams embark on defining their brand, we’ve learned that it’s important to clearly define and distinguish between positioning and value prop. Although every marketer’s definition is slightly different, the core definition often boils down to this:

  • Value Prop: The emotional and rational benefit that customers derive in purchasing a product.
  • Positioning: The product’s value proposition placed within the context of the market landscape.

These basic definitions highlight an important distinction between positioning and value prop. Namely, that the value prop is the central benefit within the brand positioning, but it is not the positioning itself. Written as a simple equation, we see that brand positioning is the value proposition placed within the context of the market landscape:

Market landscape + value prop = brand positioning
In our experience, this simple equation is a handy mnemonic that helps our clients to understand the difference between value prop and positioning.

Dan Callahan is the President of Vivisum Partners and Founder of Research (R)evolutions.

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