Harder, better, faster, stronger: How to conduct a SWOT analysis
Great brands have depth.
They’re more than just a beautiful logo, and a snappy slogan – the right brands have their own voice, personality and identity. The question is, how do you make sure that the brand you’re creating has the power to drive your business towards success?
It takes time to establish a successful brand. You won’t be able to create a bullet-proof reputation overnight, and it could be a while before people begin to instantly recognise your logo. However, with a little strategy and careful analysis, you can take extra steps to set yourself up for long-term success.
A SWOT analysis is how start-ups, existing businesses, and growing brands assess all the various factors that contribute to their long-term growth. With a SWOT analysis template, you can determine what’s driving your company towards brand loyalty and profit, and which issues could be stopping you from reaching your goals.
Learning how to do a SWOT analysis is all about putting your business under the microscope, and implementing changes based on what you find.
With a SWOT analysis, you don’t just jump from one idea to the next as your venture grows. Instead, you make careful and informed decisions based on what you know about your potential and your limitations.
Here, we’ll get to the bottom of the ever-important SWOT analysis and discover how you can use it to transform your brand.
What is a SWOT analysis? Finding your inner strength
Let’s start with answering the most obvious question: “What is a SWOT analysis?”
You can’t learn how to conduct a SWOT analysis before you’ve discovered what this kind of evaluation is all about. Essentially, a SWOT analysis is a map that highlights where you need to go next with your company. It might highlight opportunities that you’re missing out on or risks that you need to overcome.
The acronym “S.W.O.T” stands for:
Though arguments about SWOT analysis meaning are common, most experts agree that it’s a method for minimising potential issues and maximising opportunities in your business.
For instance, your greatest strengths might be your reliable reputation and your exceptional market reach. However, you may struggle to access new opportunities in your business because you have trouble with customer engagement and marketing.
In a SWOT analysis definition, ‘Strengths’ and ‘Weaknesses’ ask you to look at internal factors that affect your company, such as your patented products and impressive image. Alternatively, ‘Opportunities’ and ‘Threats’ exist outside of your business, in the form of prices, competitors, suppliers, and other market factors.
Businesses can use SWOT analysis in almost any stage of their business, to assess changing environments and respond to challenges proactively. Most branding experts recommend looking at your SWOT analysis template at least once a year. What’s more, new businesses can use a SWOT analysis as part of their initial planning process, helping them to avoid headaches later down the line, and invest resources in the right area.
A SWOT analysis helps to give clarity to your brand vision, and direction to your goals. For instance, once you identify your strengths, you can leverage them to access the best opportunities for your organisation and reduce your vulnerability to threats. Similarly, knowing your weaknesses means that you can devise a way to keep risks to a minimum.
The advantages of a SWOT analysis for uncovering strengths and weaknesses
Learning how to conduct a SWOT analysis means that you always have as much knowledge as possible to guide your decisions. Although dissecting your business can seem complicated at first, every component of a SWOT analysis has unique benefits to offer. For instance:
- S: Strengths: Looking at your strengths will tell you what’s already working for your company so that you can build a strong foundation for your future. Whenever you launch a new marketing campaign or continue to develop your brand, you can keep your strengths in mind.
- W: Weaknesses: Though it’s difficult to look at our weaknesses as positive things, the more you know about your limitations, the easier it will be to overcome them. Understanding your weaknesses means that you can create defensive strategies to protect yourself in the future, and even fix major problems in your business plan.
- O: Opportunities: You need more than just a good USP to be a successful brand today. You need a strategy that involves constant growth and development. Evaluating the marketplace for opportunities will ensure that you’re always one step ahead of the curve when new solutions arise.
- T: Threats: Just like your weaknesses, knowing the threats around you helps you to prepare from a defensive perspective. If you’re always aware of the dangers you might face, you’ll be ready to act instantly when something puts your venture at risk.
Learning how to do a SWOT analysis on a regular basis gives you a baseline of useful knowledge that you can use to accelerate your business growth. You can even use miniature SWOT analysis templates for independent elements of your business, like your brand, your marketing campaigns, or your internal communication strategy.
Your SWOT analysis template: How to do a SWOT analysis
So, now you have a SWOT analysis definition, and you know why this evaluation is so critical to your business. Now, all you need to know is how to conduct a SWOT analysis that benefits your company.
Most SWOT analysis templates feature four segments for each of the elements you’ll need to consider: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. There are plenty of ways that you can brainstorm and organise ideas for each segment, but for now, let’s look at the kind of questions you might ask yourself during each.
1. Identifying your strengths
Imagine you were using a SWOT analysis to evaluate your social media strategy. You might want to find out how you’re currently perceived by your followers, and what you need to do to improve your interactions going forward. Identifying your strengths means deciding which area of your company you’re evaluating, and what your goals are in that space. For instance, ask yourself:
- What are we good at? Do you excel at consistent social media sharing and unique posts?
- Are we achieving our goals? Are engagement rates high, and are follower numbers increasing?
- Is our process innovative and effective? Are you using things like live video and advocacy to improve your social impact?
- What resources do we have at our disposal? Are you using social media marketing tools?
- What do we do that no-one else does? Can you offer behind-the-scenes insights into your business, or unique competitions and prizes?
2. Understand your weaknesses
Once you’ve highlighted all the ways that you’re successfully progressing towards your goals, it’s time to think about where your strategy needs improvement. In a SWOT analysis of your conversion strategy, that might mean looking at why customers aren’t buying your product. If you were using a SWOT analysis template for your social policy, like in the example above, you might ask yourself:
- What are we bad at? i.e. measuring conversions and cross-channel marketing?
- What do our competitors do better than us?
- What do our customers dislike or complain about?
- What resources do we lack that could help us?
- What’s holding us back?
3. Consider your opportunities
The ‘Weaknesses’ section of your SWOT analysis is a great starting point when you’re thinking about the opportunities that might lay ahead. For instance, if you find that one of your weaknesses is an inability to track social media performance, an opportunity could arise from implementing an analytics tool. You can dream big when it comes to looking at opportunities but try to refine your focus to things that you can access and accomplish. Ask yourself:
- Which process changes and strategies could help our business?
- Would we benefit from expanding to a new market?
- Is our brand still effective, or do we need to change course?
- What new opportunities are becoming available, or which have we not pursued yet?
- How can we enhance our current offering?
4. Address possible threats
The last stage in your SWOT analysis template should involve addressing potential threats. It’s time to think about the things that could be threatening your company and stopping you from reaching success. Most people learning how to conduct a SWOT analysis consider this to be the most natural part, as we all worry about our growing companies. Writing down threats helps you to evaluate them more objectively. By taking each potential issue one at a time, you set yourself up to divide and conquer each problem. Ask yourself:
- Who are your existing competitors, and new entrants to the market that might threaten you?
- What is your position in the current marketplace?
- Is the industry changing in a way that’s harmful to your business?
- Is your cost of goods increasing?
- Are the supplies you rely on still accessible?
- Is your manufacturer reliable?
SWOT analysis examples to learn from
So, now you know the basics on how to do a SWOT analysis.
Of course, depending on your learning style, you might feel that it’s not enough to merely see an example of a template. Instead, you may want a few SWOT analysis examples to help you get your head around the concept. Fortunately, here at Fabrik, we’re always on hand to deliver expertise and guidance.
Here are a few SWOT analysis examples of famous brands.
SWOT analysis examples: Facebook
- Around 2 billion monthly active users (strong reach).
- 8 billion in earnings from quarterly advertising.
- Strong visual presence with a unique logo and icons like the “Like” button.
- Issues with a reputation (Cambridge Analytica Scandal).
- Occasional problems with user experience.
- Lots of spam content shared on the newsfeed.
- A change to the algorithm will place family and friend content above brand or spam content.
- New opportunities emerging in markets around Asia and Africa.
- Humanitarian efforts may help with the brand’s reputation.
- Growing number of alternative social channels online.
- Possible problems with government regulation in the future.
- Issues with advertising and privacy.
SWOT analysis examples: Amazon
- Most trusted eCommerce retailer in the world.
- More than 304 million active accounts.
- Growing number of Prime members.
- Remarkable customer experience through speedy delivery.
- Marketplace strategy leads to some unreliable sellers.
- Issues with labour concerns leading to reputation problems.
- Free shipping leads to reduced margins.
- In-house streaming entertainment from Amazon Prime adds value to Amazon’s USP.
- Significant opportunities for growth in global markets.
- Innovations and policy changes could improve brand perception.
- Smaller retailers might compete with Amazon in price and quality.
- Transforming marketplace attitudes may present future challenges.
- The need for connections between customers and sellers limits affinity for Amazon.
SWOT analysis examples: Nike
- Huge amount of brand equity in terms of recognition and appeal.
- Robust influencer strategy with celebrities and sports professionals.
- Recognisable image and tagline; “Just do it.”
- Positive messaging strategy and emotional marketing campaigns.
- Previously cited for poor working conditions, sweatshops, and low wages.
- Focused primarily on footwear, which gives it some limitations in a growing marketplace.
- Often partners with retailers who stock other kinds of footwear, which reduces exclusivity.
- Nike is improving its image with CSR strategies and emotional marketing campaigns.
- The company could continue to focus on emerging markets where consumers have more disposable income.
- Connections with niche influencers and micro influencers might improve the brand’s reach even further.
- Nike has faced issues with regulatory groups for international trade practices, labour strikes, and other concerns.
- Continued use of questionable or unethical business practices could harm the Nike brand and lose the attention of valuable, loyal customers.
- Economic conditions may be a threat as consumers may forgo purchasing expensive shoes and designer items when money is restricted.
How to conduct a SWOT analysis that works
A SWOT analysis isn’t a scientific process – as complex as it might sound at first glance.
The only way to measure the success of a SWOT analysis template is to determine whether it helps you to make positive changes to your business structure and process.
Learning how to conduct a SWOT analysis means knowing how to work as a team with other experts in your company, to determine how internal and external factors affect your growth. Though there’s no perfect way to learn from your strengths and weaknesses, the following tips could lead to a more effective SWOT analysis.
1. Know when a SWOT analysis is useful
Once you know how to do a SWOT analysis, you might be tempted to start using the process for every campaign or decision you need to implement. However, SWOT isn’t designed for every strategy. Generally, you’ll want to get your SWOT analysis template out during:
- Planning and brainstorming: When you’re defining a business strategy or trying to get a feel for the next step you should take as a business, SWOT analysis can be useful.
- Problem-solving: If you’re facing an issue with your current strategy and there’s no obvious solution in sight, a SWOT analysis can help you to better understand your potential and limitations. The more you know about your brand, the easier it can be to make effective decisions to further your mission.
- Growth and development: If you’re trying to evaluate your position in the current business landscape or think about how you can improve your current situation, a SWOT analysis gives you a deep-dive view into the nature of your company.
2. Work with the right people
A SWOT analysis is rarely a solo activity. When you pull together executives, mid-level employees, and even branding experts to create a team of evaluators, you get a more diverse set of insights. You can’t have ‘too many’ people present during a SWOT analysis, as more input generally makes your understanding of your company stronger.
Think about how you can get the broadest selection of ideas in your analysis and reach out to the right people within your team.
3. Brainstorm and organise your ideas
Once you’ve got a team filled with the right people, the first step in any SWOT analysis is a thorough brainstorming session. Start with one section at a time, looking at Strengths, then Weaknesses, Opportunities, and then Threats. Once you have dozens of ideas in each segment, you can start grouping similar ideas together and refining your findings.
An excellent way to refine your SWOT analysis is to put any ideas that won’t help your current situation to the side. For instance, if you’re looking at improving your current content marketing strategy through a SWOT analysis, knowing that you have a strong logo and tagline might not be useful.
However, discovering that you have a happy team of brand advocates who would be willing to create content on your behalf unlocks a fantastic opportunity.
4. Convert your analysis into a strategy
Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, you’ll be able to start turning your insights into a strategy you can use to improve and enhance your business. After all, at its core, a SWOT analysis is merely a way to evaluate your company. However, the lessons you learn during this process can be invaluable when designing an informed and relevant strategy for the months and years ahead.
- Decide which opportunities are most appealing to you at this team, and how you’re going to go about embracing them.
- Look at your strengths and ask yourself how you can use them to take advantage of potential opportunities.
- Decide how you can minimise your weaknesses or prevent them from restricting you too much as you grow.
- Examine your threats and look at any defensive measures you can put in place to protect yourself in the future.
As you’re making decisions, remember to keep your brand identity in mind, and think about what you’ll need to do to ensure consistency in your image.
All brands need a SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis isn’t a new concept in the business, marketing, and branding worlds.
For decades, the SWOT analysis has been a refined and simple way for companies to get to the bottom of complex challenges and unlock new opportunities. Learning how to do a SWOT analysis teaches you how to see solutions that you didn’t know existed, to issues you might not have realised you had.
The more you work on your business through SWOT analysis, the easier it will be to use your resources effectively. The result of a good SWOT evaluation can be anything from improved brand integrity, to bigger profits and stronger customer loyalty.
Though there’s no essential schedule to follow when it comes to deciding when you should do a SWOT analysis, a good rule of thumb is to analyse your business every time you need to make a significant decision. This means that every time you launch a new product, start a marketing campaign, or reconsider the direction of your brand, you start with a SWOT analysis.
Of course, you don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of companies out there, just like Fabrik, that can help. With a digital marketing and branding company on hand, you might find that your SWOT analysis takes your businesses to heights you could never have imagined before.
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