What is a useful framework for branding strategy?

Before you start branding

We are planning to sell new products. We want people of all ages and genders to buy our products in Japan, so we are in the process of discussing simple packaging, colorful trademarks, etc.
Great!!! I was just wondering, have you developed a brand strategy for your target audience and approach to it in the first place? Branding is a time-consuming process because the initial strategy design is the key to success. Using a framework that is based on the wisdom of our ancestors makes it easier to organize the discussion.
I’ve seen the framework, but I’m not sure how to use it in branding.

By utilizing a framework, you can visualize your brand image and solidify your branding strategy within your company.

There are many frameworks out there, but this article will introduce some of the most common ones used particularly for branding in Japan.

What is a framework?

The first step in branding is to design a brand strategy.

Without a defined brand strategy, various departments and individuals will respond to various perspectives without cohesion, which may result in a disjointed brand image and lower the value of the company.

A framework is one of the most useful tools in this area.

In a nutshell, a framework is a framework analysis tool. It is a means or method for analyzing information about the company, its competitors, products, services, customer segments, risk factors, and timing, etc., one by one within a framework.

It is quite difficult to assemble such an analysis without omissions, but by using a fixed framework, every detail can be clarified.

The necessary information can be visualized and a clear brand image can be created, which helps to permeate the image and facilitate communication within the company. When outsourcing design work to an outside firm, bringing the branding framework with you as a reference will make it easier for them to understand the outline of what design concepts should be used.

If you do not know where to start when it comes to branding, or if you know that it is important to know who to target, but you do not know how to decide, try using the framework first. Also, by writing out the framework on a regular basis, you can go through the PDCA cycle of thinking about and realizing your next move, while taking a bird’s eye view of the whole picture and sorting out where your company stands.

Key Frameworks

There is a wide variety of frameworks that can be utilized for branding.

Each framework has a different role to play. The frameworks that are easy to use will vary depending on what is being analyzed.

As for the timing of using these frameworks, it is recommended to use them before development, not after the product or service has been created. Rather than thinking about what concept to use to sell a product that has already been developed, what types of people it will sell to, and what types of environmental changes it will be vulnerable to, it is better to think about what types of people want what kind of product and what kind of product will differentiate it from the competition in order to develop a product that will sell well in the future. The more you think about what kind of people want what kind of product, and what kind of product will differentiate it from the competition, the more likely you are to succeed in branding the product.

So branding has already started even before the product is developed.

3C Analysis, Cross 3C Analysis

3C Analysis and Cross 3C Analysis can be used for market analysis when you want to find out which markets to target.

3C stands for “Company,” “Competitor,” and “Customer”.

When you draw overlapping circles of the three companies, competitors, and customers, the following can be said.

The overlapping areas of the company and customers: Markets where the company’s products and services can satisfy the needs of customers and where there are no competitors yet. This is the market you should target and is also called the Blue Ocean.

Markets where there is overlap between the company and competitors: Markets where customers are competing with each other. We will discover detailed needs that competitors are not meeting, and consider whether our company can outperform competitors even if there is overlap.

Overlapping areas among competitors and customers: Markets in which the company is not participating but competitors are participating. The key is to discover the issues that competitors are facing.

The overlapping circles of the company, competitors, and customers: This is a market where competition is expected to intensify, also known as a red ocean.

Each circle is then analyzed.

Company analysis: Clarify the strengths and challenges of the company’s brand.

Competitor analysis: Identify the strengths and challenges of competing brands.

Customer analysis: Clarify what customers really want and why they buy the brand (also called “insight”).

The difference between cross 3C analysis and 3C analysis is simply whether the circles overlap, and what you do remains the same.

There are books and other publications that introduce 3C analysis as essential in branding, and it is probably the most well-known framework.

Positioning Map

In the cross 3C analysis, the area called “Red Ocean” where the three circles overlap is the area where the competition for lower prices has already occurred or is likely to occur in the future.

Continuing to operate in this area will lead to the exhaustion of the company and its business.

Therefore, it is necessary to define the market in the “Blue Ocean,” where the circles of your company and your customers overlap, and differentiation is the key word to reach this area.

A positioning map is used to differentiate your company from competing brands and businesses.

The vertical and horizontal axes are drawn, and the company’s brand or competitor’s brand is applied to the four areas created there.

The axes are functional characteristics (product targets, features, and functions) and emotional characteristics (psychological impressions of target customers), which are set in detail.

When differentiating products, it is important to distinguish them not from the perspective of the vendor, but from the perspective of the consumer/trader.

In other words, while buyers do not care whether a product is soft or hard, it is meaningless to create a positioning map that says we are soft and other companies are hard, and to advertise the softness of the product in front of them. When creating a positioning map, it is important to always remember to set the axis from the customer’s perspective, in other words, emotional characteristics.

Life Cycle Theory

This is an analysis of where a product or service is in terms of time, in order to develop a strategy that is appropriate for the moment.

For example, it is possible to analyze the following

Introductory period: Aiming at market expansion, educating customers and communicating products and services.

Growth period: A period of significant sales growth. Aim to effectively expand product sales channels and acquire new customers through activities to raise awareness.

Mature phase: A time when no further growth is expected and the company considers entering a new business or renewing its brand image.

Declining period: During this period, even if you advertise and promote extensively, it will not lead to sales. Enter a new business, renew the brand image, or target conservative customers.

PEST Analysis

This framework is designed to analyze the environment from a macro perspective. It is useful for discovering external factors that should be feared in the future, as well as those that could become allies in the future, and for recognizing the current state of your company.

PEST is an acronym for the following four words

P Politics

E Economy

S Society

T Technology

The following is a bulleted list of how each of these factors affects your company, both positively and negatively.

Politics: The impact of laws, administrations, tax systems, court systems, and local government trends. Changes in these measures and definitions can make it impossible to do things the way they used to be done or create many opportunities.

Economy: Impact of the economy, prices, exchange rates, stock prices, and consumption trends. The way consumers spend their money will change as their willingness to buy changes.

Society: Influences related to population, generational values, religion, fads, and public opinion. It is necessary to detect changes in consumer awareness and trends.

Technology: Influences from IT, patents, current technologies, new technologies, and technologies to be developed in the future. Developments in technology may make previously necessary items unnecessary or change lifestyles themselves.

GCS Analysis

While PEST analysis was conducted from a macro perspective (how the environment surrounding a company as a large concept changes), GCS analysis is an environmental analysis tool conducted from a micro perspective (how the consumer’s environment changes).

GCS is an acronym for the following three words

G Genre

C Category

S Segment

Genre: The entire genre (the entire field of the product or service, for example, the entire information equipment field). Genre: the impact of changes in the environment of an entire genre (the entire field of a product or service, e.g., the entire information equipment field).

Category: Impact of consumer changes in the category (e.g., smartphones among information equipment).

Segment: Effects of changes in consumers in each segment (e.g., by smartphone service).

In each of these categories, we will explore the degree of inflow and outflow of consumers, usage scenarios, items of interest, etc. at each level.

By looking at the hierarchy of consumers who use products and services from broad to narrow, we can use this information to understand the current status of our company and to determine future development policies.

SWOT Analysis

While PEST analysis is a tool for analyzing the external environment, SWOT analysis analyzes the so-called business environment and is useful for understanding the current situation and setting indicators.

SWOT is an acronym for the following words

S Strength

W Weakness

O Opportunity

T Threat

SWOT analysis is often used to itemize the information clarified in the 3C analysis and PEST analysis described above, and to consider how to improve your weaknesses and how to take advantage of your strengths.

Strength: Strengths of the company or business to be analyzed

Weakness: Weaknesses of the company or business

Opportunity: External factors that may provide advantages or opportunities for the company or business. Threat: External factors that threaten the company or business


Apart from these, once you know where you stand and the market you should target, frameworks such as brand fans, customer journey, etc. are also useful. Depending on what you want to consider, you can use different types of frameworks.

Framework, I’ll try to use it. Now I know what kind of trademark to use.

Right. Once you have decided on the direction of your branding in the framework, I would recommend filing a trademark application first. If you are not able to get the trademark before other companies, your brand strategy will be lost.


Let’s take a look at a concrete example using the framework.

This time, although it will be a simple one, let’s practice SWOT analysis with the example of Starbucks. Here, only a few points are written down, but by writing down in detail the contents obtained from 3C analysis, PEST analysis, etc., a better vision will emerge.

SWOT Analysis
StrengthMultiple menus, customizable, and no disparity in service among stores due to a well-developed training system
WeaknessHigher prices, consideration for smokers
OpportunityMarket size is large, typical café is small, typical franchise café offers different services in each shop
ThreatOther companies offer lower prices

By describing in more detail, the next step is to determine the strategy the company should take.

The first question will be the method of differentiation in terms of whether to go the low-cost route like other companies, or to strengthen the strengths of the company so that it can attract repeat customers even at higher prices.

Then, in turn, a positioning map may be useful. Starbucks is actually marketing itself to upscale customers with creative store locations, ample space, attentive service, and stylish interiors. The fact that there are no smoking areas has now become an identity in reverse, helping to gain a younger generation of customers.

Need help?

Amazing DX can file trademark applications, which is the cornerstone of branding.

In addition, the firm that operates Amazing DX has a Brand Strategy Promotion Office.

The Brand Strategy Promotion Office can discuss your brand image, create your logo, register your trademark, and provide consultation on how to use it afterwards in Japan. Please experience the peace of mind that comes from being a major firm through Amazing DX.

For your branding, a trademark application is very important.

Let’s sign up and search for the trademark which would be obtained safely.

Supervisor for the article:
大阪法務戦略部長 八谷 晃典
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