Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You As A Brand

During my last semester in marketing I took a class that made me look at a SWOT analysis in a whole new way.  For SWOT neophytes, it's an analysis of internal (strengths & weaknesses) and external (opportunities & threats) characteristics of a company and its relation to the outside world.

I did a SWOT analysis on myself.

I want to set the stage, so let's go back in time a bit to November 5th.  I go into my teacher's office to lightly chat about this "You As A Brand" assignment 30 minutes before class starts.

Me: So, I'm having some trouble pin pointing what you want us to do for the "you as a brand" assignment.

Teresa: Ahhh, really?  Because it's due in a half an hour.

Me: What! omg, I didn't realize it was due today!  (Earlier that week I was panicking about the prospect of me quitting school to go work only 1.25 months from graduating with a marketing diploma.)  I start to cry.  I didn't want to cry, in fact it was the last thing I wanted to do in front of my teacher but I broke down and told her everything about our sudden crisis.  Teresa was incredibly supportive of my situation, and to this day I thank her for that.

Teresa: Alison, hand it in to me tomorrow.  I'm going to have to penalize you for being late, but bring it and I'll mark it.

I hadn't even started the assignment and I was still having troubles figuring out what my "brand" was.  I just started writing.  Here is the SWOT analysis I wrote about myself in reference to my "goal position" as a producer in a creative services department.  (I was short on time so I went with something I was familiar with).

Internal Strengths:
  • Ability to facilitate groups of people to get things done.  I can enable teams to work together. I love to encourage team members to connect on multiple levels to increase commitment to the project at hand.
  • Seeing the big picture.  I can wrap my head around a project and look to the final product to understand what to do.
  • Innate understanding of what motivates people.  I am able to see why people are achieving success or why they are stuck spinning their wheels.
  • Relating to people.  I am able to create a positive rapport with anyone.
  • Driven by honesty and ethics.  I am strongly motivated and directed by my personal ethics and values.  I do what is right.
Internal Weaknesses:
  • Difficulties working for dictators.  I get along with 99.9% of the population but I have a very hard time working for people who think there is only one way to do a job.
  • Working with people who don't like other people.  I am a social person who respects everyone.  I find it challenging to work with people who don't like the social nature of working with others.
  • Procrastination.  I am included in the group along with 95% of the population* that are prone to procrastination from time to time.  *Data taken from

External Opportunities:
  • Social media as a viable, personal way to communicate.  Respect is building for how effective social media vehicles are reaching a younger, technically savvy demographic.  A producer is in the business of communicating a message via television and video.  The ability to create an in-demand video using methods like YouTube to communicate a client's message is invaluable.
  • Success of person to person, word-of-mouth advertising.  Communicating through word-of-mouth over the internet is a huge opportunity for clients wanting to produce television commercials.  If a producer can concoct a video that goes viral a client can achieve product awareness en-masse and have a better chance of establishing a personal connection with customers.
External Threats:
  • Over-segmentation and dilution of TV audiences decreases advertising dollars.  The lure of revenue generation through starting up niche specific television channels has resulted in a reduction in large-scale TV advertising campaigns.  Clients are trending towards targeting views by spending advertising money with channels that can virutally guarantee the type of viewers being impacted by their commercial.
  • Smaller, more customer savvy advertising firms expand into television.  Through economizing the client process, small advertising firms are able to understand client needs intimately and quickly.  Being closer to the customer combined with highly specified TV campaigns allow firms to come up with specialized spots faster and more efficiently than larger firms.
This exercise really piqued my interest in the area of personal branding.  I challenge every job seeker to do a SWOT analysis before an interview because it summarizes exactly what the employer wants to hear: why you're fantastic, how you deal with common weaknesses, how you can bring value to their company, and how connected you are to their industry and competition.  You just might learn something about yourself in the process.


Anonymous said...

This is a great idea Ali...I saw it on your profile at Brazen Careerist. Interesting way to size yourself up against an opportunity at any given moment in time and also maybe set some strategic goals as well. I like.

alirayner said...

Thanks David! I figured if every teacher I've had has told us to do a SWOT when researching a new topic or company, why couldn't it work with this? I'm going to give it a go with each company I apply to.

Mazarine said...

Thanks for being honest and putting your emotions out there Ali.

A SWOT analysis can definitely help you ace an interview, but 10 stories illustrating your different qualities can help you write the cover letter too.

When I go for a job, what I do is look at the description of tasks and ask myself, When have I succeeded in areas like this before? And then put down why they should hire me, based on how I fit into their required characteristics. Examples include: Tenacious, Creative, Curious, etc.


alirayner said...


I like your idea of coming up with situations where you've succeeded tailored to their job description.

As I read the words you wrote at the bottom I thought you could also do a word association & come up with words that describe you, then follow up by thinking of experiences or instances that fit the words.

Thanks for your comment!

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