When conducting a brand audit, the simplest
models often work the best – BCG’s Growth-Share matrix, a SWOT analysis, an
organizational chart. These models work because they distill tons of
information, identify what’s important and are easy to grasp.
model for identifying brand strengths and weaknesses – the 3-Circle Model – is
stunningly simple, too. It involves just three overlapping circles representing
the brand, customers and competitors. Mapping the intersections of customer
desires, brand capabilities and competitive strengths allows strategists to
classify and prioritize different types of ‘value’.
Why it Works
analysis is powerful in three ways:
1. Broader look at
A typical brand analysis appropriately focuses most
attention on points of difference as potential sources of competitive
advantage. In addition to identifying points of difference, a 3-Circle Analysis
highlights potentially leverageable points of parity as well as unaddressed
customer needs. If these are important to customers and if no one else is
talking about them, or if your brand can talk about or deliver them uniquely, they
may be more relevant and potentially more differentiating than so-called
‘points of difference.’ Countless brands have achieved success by focusing on
category benefits (Raid Kills Bugs Dead, Lysol Kills 99.9% of germs, Foster
Farms chickens California-grown) or creating a point of difference that lies
outside of the product (Keebler Cookies are the only ones made by elves in a
hollow tree, a gecko assures Geico customers they will save money).
2. Keeps customer
needs in focus
The 3-Circle Model also provides a “final resting place” (pun
intended) for a brand’s areas of ‘non-value’ –features that may be
differentiating or important to keeping up with competitors but that are simply
unimportant to customers. The average supermarket now carries over 38,000
items, many of which are minor flavor or size variations. In the technology
category, the features arms race continues unabated. According to Harvard
professor, Youngme Moon, “There comes a point beyond which we are hard to
impress…beyond which additional improvement ceases to add value.” At that
point, it’s time to take a closer look at what customers truly value.
3. Forces clear
thinking about competitive differences
Finally, the 3-Circle Model ensures a
close look at potential points of vulnerability. The competitive landscape is
dynamic, meaning today’s advantage can be leapfrogged at any moment.
Competitive intelligence is not the same as competitive insight. Brands need to
keep a keen eye on competitors’ points of difference as well as their own, lest
they find themselves in the position of Kodak or Blockbuster, outflanked by
companies with a better sense of what customers truly want.
Model to the Test
Marketing Professor Joe Urbany and former Professor James H.
Davis, both of University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business, developed
the 3-Circle Model. It has been the foundation of the Mendoza MBA marketing
curriculum for over 10 years. The resulting map looks
simple, but it incorporates hours of digging, discussion and debate.
To learn more
about the 3-Circle Analysis and how it can be applied to brands, check out
The Brand Audit Category of Branding Strategy Insider.
Conduct a Brand Audit – First in a series of ‘How-To’ Whitepapers by
Brand Amplitude, it describes step by step where to find the information needed
to populate the 3-Circle map.
Grow by Focusing on What Matters: Strategy in 3-Circles by Joel E. Urbany
and James H. Davis
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Carol Phillips and Judy Hopelain of Brand Amplitude
Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop
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