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Use this framework to position your brand

Use this framework to develop a brand position that can be used as a mantra that resonates with your market and gives a competitive advantage.

In a world that is crowded with brands you want to ensure your brand is desirable, distinctive, and defensible. The bullseye brand positioning framework helps you hit the centre of the target and arrive at a brand essence.

A brand is something that is recognisable to a customer both in their head and their heart. It is a combination of a name, logo, images, facts and emotions that are associated with the brand. These combine to make a brand stand for something so its customers are loyal to the point where they will choose it to the exclusion of all others.

Cutting through the fog of noise created by other brands and offerings isn't easy. A good brand occupies a clear and simple position in the minds of customers. And of course, the brand must deliver against its promise or people will go elsewhere. The brand positioning bullseye helps achieve this position.

Building a brand position requires a structured approach. The bullseye is a framework that collects and analyses how customers feel about a brand, determines what makes it special, shows how the position can be substantiated, and distills it all into just a couple of words – the brand essence or the brand mantra.

The starting point is to collect data on the competitive environment and the customer. Which are the competitive brands, where do they compete, and how strong and weak are they? What are the points of difference between your brand and the competitors' brands? What are the points of parity (where you are the same)? You are trying to find the 3Ds – why is your brand desirable, where is it distinctive, and how can you defend its position?

Various consultants and advertising agencies use concentric circles to arrive at a brand essence. Some use three concentric circles before arriving at the bullseye in the centre. Others may break the circles into segments with explanations of the core proposition or the brand personality. All the frameworks start with feelings and attributes of the brand and drive towards the bullseye in the centre which is distilled to the brand essence.

The bullseye framework, as the name suggests, looks like a target with concentric circles that work towards the centre and the eye itself. The tool has developed over the years and there are a number of variations. I shall use an example which can be changed to meet different brand circumstances. The brand in the example has a number of values that affect how customers feel. For example, it is a brand that communicates a winning position, suggesting that it is the leader. 

It is good to think about how customers talk about the brand. These brand associations and statements are also found in the outside circle.

This analysis of the brand in terms of how it relates to customers gets to the emotions of the brand and from this a brand proposition can be developed – a statement of what the brand stands for. It is important that a brand delivers against its promise and so it is necessary to see how this can be substantiated. As we work towards one of the inner circles of the bullseye we look for these points of evidence that substantiate that the brand is living up to its promise.

The best bands develop a personality. These are traits that give a brand a distinctive character so that customers get attached to them, just as they would if the brand was a person.

Working from the outside of the bullseye and covering these different aspects of the brand, you aim to arrive at just two or three words that summarise what the brand stands for. This is the brand essence or the brand mantra. In the example this essence is "A passion for excellence".  This isn't necessarily a tagline or something that is shouted out in every promotion, but it is a guiding principle for the brand. For many years, Coca-Cola presented its brand as "the only one" – "the real thing". It was emphasizing that it was around before Pepsi and this makes it special. Pepsi-Cola in contrast focused on its taste and the Pepsi challenge.


Words that might seem simple or even banal at the centre of the bullseye can be turned into powerful promotional messages in advertising campaigns.

Some things to think about.

  • Do you have a position for your brand at the present? Is this position the best one for the brand?

  • Why do you think people buy your product?

  • Having bought your product, how do you think they feel about it?

  • In what way do you think your product is seen to be different from the competition? In what way is it better? In any way is it thought to be worse?

  • If your brand was an animal, what animal would it be?

  • If it was a person, how would you describe that person? (It’s gender, its age, the jobs that it does, it’s marital status etc?)

  • How would you describe the personality of your brand?

  • What single word or short sentence describes the essence of your brand?

  • What evidence do you have to substantiate that the brand perceptions are valid?

  • Consider the brand audit framework when completing your bullseye for positioning your brand -

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