three circles BA

Brand Assessment Using the 3-Circle Model

The 3-Circle Model – is a stunningly simple way to identify what really matters from a brand audit. Mapping the intersections of three overlapping circles representing the brand, customers and competitors reveals insights about what matters to customers, brand advantages and vulnerabilities.

Why It Works

1. Provides a broader look at potential distinguishers:

A typical brand audit focuses on points of difference as the main sources of competitive advantage. The 3-Circle Analysis highlights points of parity that may be leveraged as distinguishers, as well as differentiators. These category benefits are assumed or taken for granted, so no one else is talking about. If your brand can talk about or deliver them uniquely, they may be more relevant 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). Others have achieved success by defining new category ‘must haves’ the brand can own, such as Amazon Prime, iTunes Store, and Domino’s delivery app. 

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’. These are features that are differentiating or important to matching competitor features, but are unimportant to customers and therefore should not be seen as having strategic value.  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 brand vulnerabilities:

Finally, the 3-Circle Model ensures a close look at brand weaknesses relative to competition. Today’s advantage can be leapfrogged at any moment. Successful brands keep a keen eye on competitors’ points of difference as well as their own, to avoid ending up in the position of Kodak or Blockbuster, who were outflanked by companies with a better sense of what customers truly want.

To learn more about the uses and usefulness of 3-Circle Analysis, check out our Toolkit pdfBrand Audit Toolkit879.95 KB