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Best Unbranded Site? Not an Easy Question.

Person on laptopRecently, a friend of mine, who happens to be a good marketer, fired off a quick email to me with what she thought was a simple question. “Currently, what do you consider the best, unbranded site?” Her question wasn’t coming from a user experience perspective but from a strategic one.

My response was that it was almost impossible for me to answer the question without knowing what the product’s brand strategy was first. It wasn’t a copout, but a subtle reminder of why an unbranded campaign should exist in the first place. The unbranded strategy (and the resulting execution – website) should ultimately address an educational prescript essential for your target audience to internalize your branded communication platform. Without ultimately knowing what the branded strategy and communication platform is, it’s extremely difficult to determine whether the unbranded website is truly doing its job.

What I can say is that, all too often, marketers (and their agencies) decide that mechanism of action is the education prescript that needs to be addressed via an unbranded campaign. It is very unlikely that every pre-launch brand requires an MOA-based unbranded strategy. Why? How many times have you been in market research with physicians that truly want to know how your Product X works, instead of just wanting to know how well it works? It’s actually a fairly rare occurrence, yet an MOA-based unbranded strategy appears to be an almost universal approach. How about other areas, such as mechanism of disease, education on composite endpoints, challenges in patient identification, etc.?

You can’t really answer the question my friend posed to me without knowing the key challenge the brand is trying to solve during the prelaunch period and of the brand’s launch strategy to do so.

The real learning here is that a rush to ‘do something’ commercial and visible often leads to sunk cost on unnecessary unbranded sites. It may fit the bill for getting ‘something’ done, but it just may not fit the bill for the strategy and positioning that you haven’t yet fully established!

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