SWOT – anyone who has been in the business world for any amount of time will know the name, even if they don’t completely recall what it stands for. Well, what it stands for is strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Yes, SWOT is an acronym, and one of the most promising ones, if we may say so ourselves.
Because you see, SWOT may have been borne out of the management needs of the business savvy, but they are a useful indicator of performance and a dynamic tool for decision making in almost every domain of occupation.
SWOT for Branding
Specifically for branding, SWOT analysis can make a remarkable difference. Your business is struggling and your brand is failing to get any footing, where do you look to? What factors do you consider – internal or external?
SWOT tackles the issue by making a comprehensive reading of both internal and external factors affecting your brand.
The ultimate goal of a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats (SWOT) analysis is to give you a clearer picture of your brand. While Strengths and Weaknesses tackle the internal factors that are working against you in your brand, Opportunities and Threats acknowledge the external factors which you are either losing out on or crashing right into, respectively.
In branding SWOT analysis can be done on multiple levels. You can do it for your marketing strategy, to evaluate your content creation competence, to identify the holes in your product development approach or even on the brand in its entirety. But the key, anyhow, is to delve deep. Merely scratching the surface issues will be of little help.
For our purposes, we will establish questions for the SWOT analysis of the whole brand. So let’s get started!
A brand’s strengths are what make it valuable in the market. They are what capture the eye of the audience, the investors, potential employees, and, with any luck, of high returns. Knowing what factors are playing in your favour are key to devising a more confident and coherent strategy.
So what can you consider as strengths? Let’s list them off.
- Your Unique Selling Point
- Access to Resources
- Ability to carry out strategies
- Returns on investment
- Efficiency of processes
- Unhindered excellence in performance
Now this seems more like a list of perfections and it is not realistic to expect that your business will crack every one of these elements. That is why, keep these as sort of reference points and ask pointed questions to get detailed answers. Some questions you can ask are:
- Is the brand been well recognised?
- How does your brand correspond to your new mission and corporate strategy?
- What facets of the company's image are genuine?
- What aspects of your brand appeal to your target market?
- Do you have a special backstory or social cause for your company?
- In what ways does the company consistently outperform the competition? (Client service, publicity, distribution, delivery, and so on.)
- What are your employees’ talents and special skills?
- Is your company well-funded, or do you have any valuable assets at your disposal?
- Is your company offering an exclusive good or service that can't be found somewhere else?
- Is the location of your service convenient for the users?
- To what extent is your brand trusted by its audience?
Your strengths offer you leverage. Plus, they are the most easy to pinpoint because of our tendency to think better of ourselves. However, weaknesses are just as important, if not more, to help you perfect the branding shot.
First off, listing out your brand weaknesses is not a reason to demoralise yourself. If anything, it is the exact opposite. You have realized your strengths, now is the time to recognize your weaknesses, complete the picture and set to work. It is an exercise in self- reflection directed solely towards weeding out inadequacies and vulnerabilities.
A good advice here is to get real. Don’t hold back, shy away or push your problems under the carpet. This is the time to look incompetence in the face and bid it goodbye.
Some questions you can ask to get the dirt out are:
- In what areas does the brand consistently underperform?
- Are there any persistent flaws in your team? (Lack of preparation, low morale, marketing etc.)
- Do you lack a consistent brand voice?
- Do you have a shortage of time, personnel, or funds in your company?
- Are your brand objectives scattered?
- Do you a deficit of forward-thinking strategies?
- Are there any aspects of your brand that aren't authentic? Where do you think you sound phony when addressing audiences?
- Is the company unable to completely deliver on brand promises?
- Are you able to relate with the target audience? Which brand messages have gotten a negative reception more than once?
- What facets of your brand are being misunderstood?
Weaknesses are a tool of further growth. But it is important to realize that while weaknesses may lessen and change forms, they aren’t ever completely wiped out. So this section of the analysis will benefit you most when you repeat it at regular intervals.
Once you have all the information to correct your strategies at the internal level, it is time to build look outside for more clues for growth, starting with opportunities.
Innovative innovations and goods are definitely great opportunities to invest in. But don’t lose out on small opportunities waiting around for a big break to come along. Keep out a watch for potential target markets, minor competitive advantages you can grab and develop, and most of all alternatives for the weak points you identified in the above section.
Questions that can help you uncover hidden opportunities are:
- Is it possible for your brand to be authentically associated with any popular causes?
- Are there any new trends that favor your company or brand?
- Is there any new technology that might help you develop your product?
- Is it possible to adapt an existing product or service to appeal to a different demographic?
- Is there a part of your brand that you might highlight that is currently unnoticed?
- Can you identify a niche in the market that is currently unfulfilled or underserved?
Could you form a partnership with another company to obtain exposure, economic assistance, or loyalty from customers?
- How can your product or service surpass the performance of a competitor?
- Which reforms in state or federal law would benefit your company?
- Are you employing the full power of social media for your brand?
- Can you maybe start thinking of exporting your services?
The scope of opportunities in a SWOT analysis are basically limitless. Once you start on the list, make sure you know when to stop. It wouldn’t do to dwell on opportunities that are a long shot for you at the moment. So keep your ideas realistic, simple and achievable. Then, of course, as you move along, anything is possible.
The challenges you face in realizing different areas of your brand to their maximum potential are called “threats”.
Identifying your risks necessitates a broad understanding of the market. You'll have a way better time outsmarting the market if you know what makes your brand special and what the current environment of your industry looks like. New rivals, shifting market preferences and habits, the long-term viability of your systems, and the advent of new technology are all things to keep in mind.
Again, questions that can help you arrive at a fuller understanding of the scenario you are rooted in are:
- Do any cultural shifts in place today have the potential of jeopardizing your company's or brand's success?
- Will changes in weather conditions have a negative effect on your business? (crop or material losses, or late delivery)
- Have any recent affairs painted an unflattering picture of any aspects of your brand?
- Are there any controversial people, associations, or thought-systems associated with your brand?
- Do you know of someone trying to smear the brand’s reputation?
- What do your rivals have to offer that you don't? Are they making their offerings a prices you cannot compete with?
- Are you concerned about the effect of the current economic downturn on your brand?
- Will changes in state or federal legislation have an impact on your business?
- Are any of your vendors or suppliers becoming unreliable, raising their prices, or closing down?
- Is the change in fashions or trends going to pose a problem for you down the road?
Every brand has its unique strengths and weaknesses. If you want to grab opportunities by the throat and evaluate threats effectively the value of a SWOT analysis is unquestionable. The more you know about your brand, the better goods and services you'll be able to provide.