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Find Your Communication Strengths

SWOT Analysis Mind Map

Quote: “If you know the ene­my and know your­self, you need not fear the result of a hun­dred bat­tles. If you know your­self but not the ene­my, for every vic­to­ry gained you will also suf­fer a defeat. If you know nei­ther the ene­my nor your­self, you will suc­cumb in every bat­tle.” –Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Know yourself and know your enemy

Using a SWOT Analy­sis to Inven­to­ry Your Abil­i­ties.

Sun Tzu talks about know­ing your­self and know­ing your ene­my. But how often are we hon­est about our own strengths and those of oth­ers we’re com­pet­ing against? The advan­tages are that it makes it easy to win, because you can make a plan that puts you on the high ground. You can pre­dict their poten­tial cours­es of action when your ini­tial plan goes awry. And you can know what you can and can’t do, in real­i­ty (not just what every­one else can and should do).

And although many of us know what a SWOT analy­sis is, we often don’t think it can be applied to com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I’m gonna try to change that today.

A SWOT is a quad chart with four squares. The top 2 squares, from left to right, are “strengths and weak­ness­es.” The bot­tom two are “oppor­tu­ni­ties and threats.” The top is about you. The bot­tom is about them.

Here’s an exam­ple:‑3.html

Mistakes in Using the SWOT

First off, let’s remem­ber why we’re doing this. Because it shows your actu­al, lit­er­al advan­tage: that activ­i­ty that gives you the low­est oppor­tu­ni­ty cost.

  1. Mis­take 1: Fail­ing to define scope.
  2. Mis­take 2: Strengths too vague. It’s not “qual­i­ty.” You need to get beyond that quick. Fig­ure out what about you helps you deliv­er qual­i­ty.
  3. Mis­take 3: Treat­ing weak­ness­es like things you need to fix.
  4. Bonus: Fail­ing to iter­ate and allow it to turn into a clear state­ment of strength and guide process. Threats should can­cel out strengths, because strengths are rel­a­tive. And if some­one in your com­pe­ti­tion is bet­ter than you at some­thing, and it’s not some­thing you can get bet­ter than them at, then stop com­pet­ing with them.

Example SWOT Elements in Communication

Let’s talk about mes­sag­ing and the process for a sec­ond. Because I think very few peo­ple under­stand mes­sag­ing and sto­ry­telling well enough to be able to even write a good SWOT. Let me explain.

  1. Good cre­ative work?
  2. Effi­cien­cy in the cre­ative process?
    1. Clear goal for the cre­ative work that’s informed by com­pa­ny goals?
    2. Clear under­stand­ing of the audi­ence through a good research process?

So get your team togeth­er, build your SWOT and then fol­low it up in a week with a plan, and then in 3 months to see if the plans worked. The point is, it’s great to have done a SWOT. But it’s not worth much if it doesn’t turn into a plan.


  • Deep Dive, by Rich Hor­wath. Rich shares many of my frus­tra­tions about busi­ness strat­e­gy and the inabil­i­ty to see their blind spots.
  • An exam­ple of a SWOT from Start­up Themes.

If you’ve enjoyed this out­line, and you want to learn more about stand­ing up a brand in your own orga­ni­za­tion using brand and con­tent strat­e­gy and the brand hack­ing method, which means keep­ing it sim­ple and iter­at­ing quick­ly, then let’s talk.

Bio: I’m Chris Stadler, and I’ve been watch­ing, work­ing, study­ing and con­sult­ing for brands since 2004. I will show you how to right-size your promis­es so that they’re promis­es you can keep. Because it’s not the expen­sive brand­ing agen­cies that make great brands; they’re just the dec­o­ra­tors. It’s your lead­er­ship and integri­ty that make it all work. But it takes process.