Use a SWOT filter by all means, as long as you have evaluated an idea on its merit, creativity, and the objective that it serves for your brand.
There was a time when marketers used to do a SWOT analysis of their brands to plan their strategies, actions and marketing.
While that SWOT still continues, based on the work that I have seen from various brands, I feel that a lot of marketers are using a different SWOT filter these days for the ideas that their agencies and creative teams are presenting to them:
S – Does it have an element of Sustainability in some way?
W – Is it Woke Enough to resonate with Gen Z?
O – Hope it will not be seen as Offensive to any religion or any community?
T – Are we leveraging the Trend of the Month?
This SWOT seems to be the new mantra for a lot of brand campaigns these days. In this race to be seen, talked and written about, lot of brands are trying too hard to jump on the trend bandwagon, or come up with a creative that seems to be woke enough so that it shakes up the Gen Z and makes them notice. If that is not enough, in the current world of social media, where every person, religion and community takes offense at the slightest instance, and pounces on brands that brush them the wrong way, brands also have to navigate the choppy waters of sensitivity so that they do not end up saying something that would hurt the sensibilities of anyone.
In the current climate of Coronavirus, there are so many brands that are coming up with social media posts, trying to make a point, or saying something, thanks to the hyperactive social media agencies behind some of these brands. However, not all of them are getting it right. A lot of them are saying things that do not even connect back to their brand or product truth, but a few likes are giving them the false belief that what they are doing is being appreciated.
While there is nothing wrong in doing good for the planet, or standing up and representing a cause, or doing moment marketing to leverage a trend, you are being dishonest to your brand as well as to your consumer, if it does not go well with your brand values. Sooner rather than later, people will see through this, and stop trusting your brand.
Moreover, the problem with this approach is that more often than not, creativity becomes the first victim to take a hit. This kind of a SWOT filter takes away the freedom from the creative team and puts them in a box, asking them to think only in a certain way. We all know that creativity is the stepping stone for any brand to flourish and sustain, and if you clip the wings of creativity, then in some way, you are also clipping the wings of growth for your brand.
However, it is good to see that amidst this horde of certain brands who want to tick all the boxes, there are honest and trusted brands and brave marketers who are being authentic and staying true to what they are and what they stand for. They know that they are playing the game of long term as much as the short term and so they will not compromise their brands, its purpose or positioning for some quick likes, or just to please a certain section.
It is fair to say that the techniques and style of marketing has surely evolved over decades, however, what hasn’t changed is the fact that it always begins with the fundamentals. The fundamental of knowing your brand well, knowing your consumers deeply, being clear on what you want your brand to be known for and then building your marketing around that.
So, I would like to conclude by telling all the marketers to go ahead and use a SWOT filter by all means, as long as you have evaluated an idea on its merit, its creativity and the objective that it serves for your brand. Let the SWOT filter not be the judging factor for a strong idea, rather let a strong idea be taken through the SWOT filter, too, if needed.