Tools and frameworks

Passion Brand positioning framework


Through a process of rigour and imagination the Passion Brand codication emerges at the intersection of the two internal forces (left) and the two external ones (right). Analytical rigour ensures that brand belief is arrived at in full recognition of all the influences and constraints that might impinge upon it; it is never simply something “dreamt up” by a team or individual insulated from reality.

The framework is based on our conviction that the most potent positioning for any brand lies at the intersection of four vital forces (see diagram).

The two forces on the left are internal, relating to the brand or the organisation itself. ‘Ideology’ embraces the ethos of the company, no matter how loosely sketched, plus all the values associated with the brand, both current and past, and should include, where possible and appropriate, foundational beliefs. ‘Capability’ examines the company’s abilities, its ‘invisible’ assets like the distribution network or trade relationships, its source of authority and its cultural bias – what its culture inclines it to do.

The two forces on the right are external, relating to the world beyond the brand. ‘Consumers’ will include people who buy, reject or otherwise influence the brand, but the lens should be broadened to look at people in a much more general sense, to examine behavioural trends, cultural shifts and the trickle-down effect of celebrity. ‘Environment’ covers the entire competitive environment in which the brand sits and is not simply confined to the immediate competitive set. Also covered here should be technological, economic and demographic trends.

The process splits into two halves. The first is to analyse all the four forces as they relate to your brand; rigour is vital here. The second is to use the facts, insights and tensions uncovered by the analysis as fuel which, with the spark of imagination, will help you ‘discover’ your true brand spirit and the beliefs and promises that accompany it.

Do not be afraid of tensions, even extreme ones, between two or more of the four forces. They will always exist, and are usually the key to the process. It is the resolution of these tensions, which will be different for every brand, that leads to the imaginative leaps that make for an inspired positioning. A step-by-step explanation of the process, with examples, can be found in the Passion Brand chapter of ‘The Definitive Book of Branding’ (Sage, 2015). Or you can simply read the relevant section here.