Is SWOT still relevant?

B2C - Brand Strategy
Brand Innovation
Public Sector - Brand Strategy

SWOT analysis may seem like an old-hat concept, it’s been around a while. But there’s a reason for that.


SWOT analyses are still a hugely valuable tool for developing strategic approaches and insight. Particularly from a public relations and marketing focus, a sturdy SWOT analysis is a great way to assess a business’s current position.


Is SWOT a blunt tool?


SWOT is often viewed by many as something of a blunt instrument. A tactic that is ‘too internally focused.’ 


There are other analytical models out there, such as SOAR and NOISE. 


SOAR - or Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results - in particular, is sometimes viewed as a more ‘forward thinking’ analytical approach. The issue with this way of thinking is that you’re viewing each methodology in isolation.


Yes, it is true that a SWOT analysis is a simple metric. That is what makes it particularly useful, as with you can drill down on matters of great complexity and create clearer tangible responses. 


The truth about all of these analytical models is that each of them is rather insufficient when viewed in isolation.


This isn’t to say that SWOT, or any other model should be disregarded. Rather each of them requires a level of combination with other metrics and models in order to better achieve positive and effective outcomes. 


SWOT in practice


As we’ve said, SWOT is incredibly useful for making complex scenarios and situations simpler. 


Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats are almost universal parameters. This kind of criteria can be deployed throughout every facet and division of an organisation, allowing every person to provide input without any kind of barrier to entry.


A SOAR model for example, which takes half of SWOT and replaces it with Aspirations and Results, can fall down short here.


If you’re deploying a company-wide SWOT, then aspirations and results can be very subjective parameters. This can result in quite a convoluted analytical overview. But Opportunities and Threats, don’t necessarily offer the same level of tactical recommendations that Aspirations and Results can.


This is where not treating either in isolation, really comes into effect. 





To get real benefits from a SWOT analysis, you’re going to need to go beyond what the SWOT tells you and fold in tactics and approaches from other models.


SWOT will give you a snapshot of your business at a particular moment in time. But to put in place actions, it pays to look at Aspirations and Results from the SOAR model.


By exploring aspirations and results, you’re taking the points which have arisen during your SWOT and placing more tangible action-based tactics around the analysis. This can be taken one step further by also looking at the NOISE framework.


Noise considers Needs, Opportunities, Improvements, Strengths and Exceptions. So, like SOAR, NOISE takes parts of the SWOT framework and adds to it. 


How do you maintain your strengths? How do you act against weaknesses? How do you make the most of opportunities and work to minimise threats?


By incorporating SOAR and NOISE's additions to SWOT, you can add clearly defined tactics and actions to your strategy.



Constant Evolution 


If you treat a SWOT as a one-off exercise, you will never realise its true value.


SWOTs should be undertaken regularly, markets change, products develop and competitors come and go. You need to be abreast of anything that can affect your business, within and without. 


You need to be performing regular analysis sessions to adapt your business model and approach to an ever-evolving landscape.



In summary 


Despite its detractors, SWOT still has a place in modern business, PR and marketing.


While it does have its limitations, it is not the blunt instrument that many make it out to be. When used in conjunction with aspects of other strategic analysis tools, SWOT, NOISE and SOAR make each other far more effective. 


The next time you’re performing a SWOT analysis, don’t just leave it there.


Dig deeper and drill down on the outcomes of that SWOT. Consider the actionable tactical outcomes in terms of your business aspirations, needs and improvements to make your SWOT analysis all the more powerful.