In our journey exploring the most important positioning models, the last standing framework is the Brand Wheel.
Brand wheels are powerful tools for brand strategy development and audit. They provide a visual representation of the brand positioning to quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of each brand. Together with the Brand Key and the Brand Pyramid, is one of the most used positioning frameworks.
What is a Brand Wheel?
A brand essence wheel consists of three concentric circles, moving from the outer circle (general characteristics) to the inner circle (details and intrinsic value), to the Brand Wheel Essence. Brand marketers use the brand wheel as a positioning and audit framework, in either direction: from the Essence to the external rings to define the elements that support the specific promise. Or from the outside ring, by building each component before the Essence, which becomes a cherry on the cake.
Key Elements of a Brand Wheel
The outer ring focuses on external features that define the brand and ensures consumer recognition. This includes general attributes and benefits of products.
The outer rim of the essence wheel contains surface-level facts about the brand. These attributes provide you with high-level information about a company, they all come directly from data and verified information. All of these ideas are objective facts and can be used as marketing options for your business. They are basically the RTBs – Reasons to believe in other models. And as a matter of fact, they are intertwined with the next component of the outer ring.
The brand has been created to provide a unique experience for its users. The brand will be able to create emotional benefits for its customers through the use of social media platforms and digital marketing strategies. The brand will also be able to provide functional benefits for its customers through an online store that will allow them to purchase products at competitive prices. They do not necessarily have to relate to product characteristics, as Brands and Products might not overlap in benefits. As a matter of fact, certain core characteristics at the product level – which are product benefits – are often helpful as RTBs (e,g. the role of Google Search for the Google Brand Positioning).
The middle ring addresses facts about the brand in more detail and is characterized by symbols associated with the brand.
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Brand values are the beliefs the brand stands for. They serve as the guide that helps employees navigate the brand story, actions, and decisions. But they are also the elements that build most of the recall of a brand in consumers’ minds.
They help employees in making the right choice in every day’s execution and strategic decisions. In addition to that, they are a beacon for consumers in the clutter of many brands’ noise.
Its origin can be traced back to consumer behavior. In particular, consumers often project their true or aspirational selves through their brands, and they often humanize brands to describe the differences beyond product attributes. An example of the association between a brand and a celebrity is when a celebrity becomes identified with a brand. In this sense, brand personality is at the core of celebrity endorsement and influencer marketing. It is therefore critical to develop a personality that inspires the target audience. For example, the emotional attachment consumers develop for luxury brands like Louis Vuitton.
We could define brand personality as “the set of human characteristics associated with a brand.” This is one key ingredient in developing emotional attachment with consumers.
What does the brand stand for? What do you want people to think about when they hear your name? How do you want them to feel when they use your product?
The Essence Wheel is the promise that the brand makes to its customers about what it will do for them. This promise goes beyond the benefits (both functional and emotional) and it needs to relate to and mutually reinforce the brand’s values (e.g., trustworthiness, reliability).
Some examples of Brand Wheels
|Wheel Component||Nike||Adidas||New Balance|
|Benefits||Superior Performance||Like the Pros||For Sports (and Fashion)|
|Attributes||Celebrity Endorsements||Celebrity Endorsements||Team Endorsement|
|Values||Daring, Edgy, Limitless||Integrity||Empowerment|
|Essence||We all can achieve top Performance||Own the Game||Help others to achieve their goals|
We have seen that there are many different ways for brands to be positioned. Each model has its own strengths and weaknesses. The Brand Wheel is a simple tool that allows us to assess how well our brand is perceived in the market. It has some drawbacks compared to the others, such as the lack of target audience, consumer insights, or competitive landscaping. But the largest problem lies in the fact that the model does not require any interactions between the components, unlike its competing frameworks.