The 21st Century SWOT Analysis

By analyzing your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you can figure out your brand enhancers and reduces.

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By Karen Tiber Leland

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The following excerpt is from Karen Tiber Leland's book The Brand Mapping Strategy. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

The final step in the Brand Mapping Process© is to examine where you stand today in terms of your current brand effectiveness, whether that's for you, your team, or your business. What are you doing that is enhancing your brand and what are you doing that is reducing it?

I find that a modified version of the traditional SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis works well as a framework to uncover this information.

  • Brand Strength: A good or beneficial quality or attribute that sup­ports the brand
  • Brand Weakness: A quality or feature that is disadvantageous to the brand
  • Brand Opportunity: A circumstance that makes something possible for the brand
  • Brand Threat: Something likely to cause damage or danger to the brand

Your brand's SWOT

Consider each of the criteria below individually and, depending on your answers, assign it an S for strength, W for weakness, O for opportunity or T for threat. Make notes about the specifics of each criterion. In some cases, a quality will fall into multiple categories. In other words, one aspect may be considered a strength, while another dimension of that same criteria could be construed as an opportunity. In general, however, most of the following criteria on the list will fall into one of the four categories.

  • The brand's current competencies
  • The brand's competitive advantages
  • The specific experience and knowledge the brand possesses
  • The brand's innovative or unique qualities or offers
  • The important resources (financial, human, etc.) the brand possesses
  • The critical skills the brand brings
  • The brand's geographical advantage
  • The education or accreditation the brand possesses
  • The values, philosophy and culture the brand represents
  • The brand's price, value or quality advantage
  • Effective systems and processes the brand has in place
  • The marketing and distribution capabilities the brand possesses
  • The brand's delivery capability
  • The way the brand is expressed and articulated

Having identified where you stand with these main brand elements, the next step is to come up with a plan to improve the stronger aspects and address the weaker points. For example:

  • Strengths. Shore up your brand's strengths by determining how you can move them to the next level. Just think, if you are always mak­ing your own brand strength's obsolete by coming up with something better or more advanced before your competitors do, you will always be ahead of the pack.
  • Weaknesses. Identify some simple steps you can take to mend the cracks in your brand. Often these weaknesses exist as an outgrowth of brand elements that were never fully developed and require only a tweak or a slight alteration to get back on track.
  • Opportunities. These are the places where a little effort can go a long way. But taking advantage of opportunities doesn't seem to have the same sense of urgency as resolving the threats you face. For this reason, it's a good idea to actually schedule a specific time to work on making these opportunities a reality.
  • Threats. This is the category that requires immediate attention. The threats in your brand can widen into huge cracks overnight when the market shifts, a new competitor arrives on the scene, or you begin losing business. Fixing the threats your brand faces usually requires significantly more time and effort than just addressing weaknesses. Don't let the amount of effort this may take stop you from protecting your brand and business.
Karen Tiber Leland

Author and President of Sterling Marketing Group

Karen Leland is the founder of Sterling Marketing Group, where she helps entrepreneurs and executives build stronger personal, team and business brands. She is also the best-selling author of The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand.

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