Identity – sometimes it’s a difficult chore to discover not only who you are but what you are all about. In business, these same things hold true. An entrepreneur or a new business owner has to have an identity of what their business is and what it does before they can hang their sign, print business cards, or even make that first sales call. Still, at the core of all of this is their identity – the “Who are you?” that maintains the face of the business. Some may say it’s in the name, like Bill’s Roofing, or it’s in the logo, like the Golden Arches. But the more you look at it, your business’ identity is really your brand and how you establish and market your brand to your current and potential customers.Developing and maintaining your brand is never an easy part of your marketing efforts and shouldn’t be taken lightly. One part of the branding process is as easy as two statements – Say what you do and Do what you say. If those match, you’re staying true to your brand.
Sometimes, we get the “branding bug” – an ongoing part of your marketing a business, where you are constantly aware of your brand and its strength in the marketplace. One exercise that a company can engage in is a basic S.W.O.T. Analysis, which allows you to take a look at four key areas that affect your business’ brand and provides a mechanism for re-tooling areas that need help and maintaining or sustaining areas that are already working for your company.
The S.W.O.T. Analysis is comprised of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in your company. When doing this exercise, it’s best to have a team of people who represent different areas of the company so that you can get different perspectives and ideas as this brain-storming session takes shape.
The first area is to address are the S’s – your strengths: Talk about what is strong in your business – what do you do well, why do you do it well, how do you do it, etc. In brand development this is the box you want to be the largest or will be the largest over time.
W’s – your weaknesses. Talk about where you have shortcomings. What don’t you do well, why don’t you do it well, how come you don’t do it well, etc. This can cover everything from how you answer the phone to losing an account due to pricing and everything in between. This is the area where the ego’s need to leave the room and be open about your business. This is also the area where you can work to shift these weaknesses into strengths over time.
O’s – the opportunities that your business can capitalize on. What are some of the things that you do well that you can apply to other areas? Where and how can you diversify your customer base? When can you take advantage of that your competitors don’t? This is also another way of taking some weaker areas and strengthening them.
T’s: the threats to your business. Who are your competitors? What do you know about their business and how and why they are successful? What about costs and pricing? How competitive can you be? The threats may also be a large area, but it also is an area where you have un-turn many stones and thing beyond your normal scope.
When completed, your S.W.O.T. Analysis will be a very useful roadmap to your marketing and branding strategies. This is a working document where information can be added, deleted and moved from one area to another. It should also be something you revisit often.
All business have a brand and at some point you need to look at and see where it stands. So the next time your business gets the branding bug – take a S.W.O.T. at it!