Branding all boils down to identity. Understanding your identity is a challenging quest though, one that takes serious thought and effort. In the last Branding Your Blog post, I talked about the importance of knowing your core values. These values shape your identity. Once you have a clear idea of who you are and what you stand for, you need to know what to do with that identity.
It may seem kind of obvious: write blog posts. But is that all you do? Aren’t you also an entertainment station for some people? A sanity saver for others? You’re probably a knowledge hot spot for many. Or perhaps you’re a bit of everything. Your identity is your brand, and if you don’t even know what your identity is, you’re very distant from having an effective brand.
One of the great tools PR and other business professionals use to help them understand their identity is called a SWOT analysis. Sounds painful, I know, but it’s not too difficult and the results will change the way you look at your blog brand.
SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT diagram places each letter in a different quadrant on a grid. From there, you analyze each item individually, taking care to fully flush out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Because blogs are a bit different than a traditional business, I took the liberty of placing some starter questions in each quadrant to help you get going.
Be honest with yourself, you know your blog has some strengths. Maybe it’s your writing style. Maybe it’s a particular segment or reoccurring post you do. Perhaps you excel at creating inviting and classy graphics. Understanding your strengths helps you play to those strengths and you can brand your blog in a way that really brings out those strengths.
Just like you have strengths, you also have weaknesses. Not necessarily as a person (though I’ve never met someone without at least one weakness), but your blog will have some weaknesses. It’s natural. Blogging is an interesting phenomenon that has gradually evolved, so there will always be rough edges and things to improve on. Identifying weaknesses can help you turn those weaknesses into strengths as you focus on them.
There are many opportunities for you as a blogger, but you are the one who must decide what those opportunities are. These tie into your goals for your blog. If you’re after a certain number of followers, that’s an opportunity. If you want to do giveaways, that’s an opportunity. Other opportunities may include branching out to different subject matters, changing to a custom URL or having a professionally-designed blog. Identify your opportunities and seize them.
I know it sounds silly to have threats, but there may be things that pose a threat to your blog. If you’re a competitive person, other blogs that post similar content could be seen as a threat. Fortunately, the blogging community is very sharing and has an attitude of “the more, the merrier.” Potentially the biggest threat that faces every blogger is the question of, “When is the blogging bubble going to burst.” It would be very arrogant to believe blogging will forever be as dominant as it is now. Sure, it will probably exist for decades to come, but once the “Next Best Thing” comes along, what’s going to happen to your blog? Are you going to evolve? Are you going to incorporate this new fad in with your blog? Looking ahead to these potential threats will help you maintain a positive brand that people will stick with for many years to come.
SWOT analyses do take time to complete, but they are very rewarding and will help you better create and understand your blogging brand.