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What is a SWOT analysis and why is it helpful for brands?

If you’re a business owner or a decision-maker within a company, you have likely heard the term SWOT analysis. Though the SWOT analysis template was originally created in the 1960s as a brainstorming aid for businesses to make decisions about strategies for future growth, it’s having its contemporary moment in the sun here on the business landscape of the 2020s. Many businesses are implementing regular SWOT analyses to stay on top of goals throughout the year and find areas within the company in need of improvement.

So what is a SWOT analysis, and how can it help with your business planning and assist in the branding process?

What is a SWOT analysis?

Simply put, a SWOT analysis is a powerful tool used by businesses to identify and assess their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (which creates the acronym SWOT). Performing a SWOT analysis can help companies understand the internal and external factors that can affect their success by aiding or blocking goal achievement. When it comes to branding a company, creating a SWOT analysis can be an invaluable resource for understanding how best to position your business in the marketplace.

By analyzing each aspect of your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats regularly, you can gain valuable insights into how you should approach branded initiatives, as well as different strategies for growing your business. With the brand positioning knowledge gained from a SWOT exercise, companies are better equipped to make informed decisions when launching new products or services or entering new markets. In short, each element of a SWOT analysis allows you to identify opportunities, this a great exercise for any business looking to strengthen its brand identity and increase its market share.

When should you perform a SWOT analysis for your company?

Many companies make performing a SWOT analysis an important part of their Q1 priorities each year. Beginning the year with a conversation about your business's key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can clarify goals and strategy and help in making decisions that impact the direction and growth of the business in the year ahead. From customer service to human resources to increasing sales, a great SWOT analysis can help with strategic planning and in gaining a competitive advantage.

Another great time to perform a SWOT analysis is when you’re branding a new company or considering rebranding an existing company. Even bringing a basic SWOT framework to the branding table can give you a leg up throughout the branding process. It will provide your branding studio with useful information that serves as a great jumping-off point.

Breaking down the SWOT matrix 

Let’s take a look at the fundamental elements of performing a SWOT analysis so you can see how each piece of the puzzle might apply to your business strategy.

SWOT Matrix: Strengths

The strengths of your business may seem obvious. After all, they are the reason your business is running in the first place. So why take the time to reflect on them? Because not all of your strengths are created equal. Some may not even be useful to your business. Some may have been relevant in the past but are no longer holding the same level of importance in the mind of your customer. 

When you develop a brand strategy or make strategic decisions for your business, you want to focus on just a few of your main strengths, specifically the ones that give you your unique market position.

Once you get a list of your strengths down on paper, ask yourself some key questions:

  • Are all of these strengths meaningful to your business or brand? In what way?
  • Do these strengths exist for a strategic reason?
  • What strengths can we double down on to differentiate ourselves from the competition?

If you’re struggling to answer some of these questions, don’t worry! A creative branding agency will help you narrow down your core strengths and may even uncover strengths you didn’t know you had before moving on to creating your brand strategy.

SWOT Matrix: Weaknesses

Just as with strengths, make a list of your business’s weaknesses and then narrow down some of the central weaknesses holding you back from success. Honing in on a few significant weaknesses within your business can help define goals and action plans for improvement. 

Ask yourself some key questions as a starting point:

  • What are things that are negatively impacting customer experience?
  • What is your competition doing better than you?
  • What resources are you lacking?
  • Are there any inefficiencies in operations?

After you’ve narrowed down your most significant weaknesses, begin to brainstorm solutions that address these weaknesses. Look at these solutions as opportunities for improvement.

Which brings us to part three of the SWOT analysis…

SWOT Matrix: Opportunities

Within each weakness exists an opportunity. Narrowing down your weaknesses allows you to begin thinking creatively about ways to mitigate shortcomings. Brainstorming new opportunities will help you pave the path to reaching any goals you want to achieve. 

Some questions you might ask as you look for opportunities

  • Can you utilize any tools or technology to make operations more efficient?
  • Are there events or community partners you can join to facilitate business growth and brand recognition? 
  • Are there any new trends in your industry that you can take advantage of?
  • In what new and creative ways can you leverage your strengths?

If you struggle to find new opportunities or simply don’t have the right team or manpower to keep up with this ongoing process, a branding agency can guide you, providing curated brand management that reinforces your strengths and brand position.

SWOT Matrix: Threats

The most important part of identifying threats to your business or brand is being realistic. You have to be willing to fully acknowledge potential threats on the horizon and tackle them strategically.

Threats often appear as external issues you have little to no control over, like a recession or a new competitor on the market. Identify these types of potential threats and possible solutions to them so that you are prepared if/when they arrive. Other threats may be internal in the form of unaddressed inefficiencies, employee discontent, or outdated technology.

When navigating these threats, it’s crucial you stay true to your brand. Any threat to your company's success may make you feel like it’s time to panic, but it’s important to thoughtfully address threats in a way that aligns with your brand values and identity. Taking time to carefully work through threats ensures that your reputation with and promise to your customers remains intact. 

SWOT analysis and branding

Performing a SWOT analysis before you begin your branding or rebranding journey is a great way to build a starting platform for your internal team members, and everyone involved in the branding process. Bringing a SWOT analysis to your branding agency will help them get a well-rounded overview of your thoughts about your company and allow them to provide you with new insights from the branding perspective. 

If you’re unsure where to start with the SWOT analysis process but know you need some branding positioning guidance, Quill Creative Studio is here to help!

Quill’s proven methodology for creating successful brand strategy, visual identity, and ongoing brand management incorporates many foundational elements of performing a SWOT analysis. With expert guidance from Quill’s brand strategists and creative designers, you will come out of the branding process with accessible knowledge about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that exist for your business. 

Have a branding project you want to discuss? Let’s chat.