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Brand Strategy

2021 Brand Plan | Your Guide to Yearly Brand Planning

It’s almost 2021! Now that we’ve reflected on 2020 and reviewed our brand over the last year, it’s time to look forward and plan how we’re going to smash those big branding goals of yours this year! 

In this week’s episode, I’m talking all about why you need to do a brand plan every year, what you need to plan, and how to plan it.

Why You Need To Have a Brand Plan

1. It gives you something to work towards

If you don’t have a North Star to point yourself towards, then you’re not going to have anything to drive you and keep you on track. Having a brand plan keeps you from getting distracted and gives you a set of directions to stay focused throughout the year and move towards your goals. 

2. To make progress for your brand

The last thing you want is to look back in 12 months time and realise that you haven’t done anything or gone anywhere! You have big dreams, big goals and a vision for your life, your creativity and your business. Instead of just thinking about those things, having a plan will help you to actually DO them. 

3. To work ON your business, not just IN your business

It’s so important to make sure that you’re taking the time to actually work ON your business, rather than just doing all the day-to-day things. Think big picture and about how to move your business forward, grow it and push it towards where you want it to be. 

Making a plan doesn’t lock you into anything. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t achieve any of these things, something’s gone wrong. Life happens, inspiration happens and visions and missions change, so we can change things as we go as long as we have something to work towards. 


What You Need To Plan

I’m going to share my process with you, but here’s a disclaimer - you’ve got to make sure your process works for you. You can adjust the plan, take parts that work and get rid of parts that don’t, but make sure that the planning process isn’t stressful for you. 

The systems I use come from the book Traction by Gino Wickman, which I really recommend for practical business tips. Just keep in mind that it’s written from the perspective of a man who looks after multi-million dollar businesses with hundreds of employees, so it can feel pretty corporate! Again, choose which parts work for you and your systems. 

The Meeting Pulse

Using this system, I have yearly, quarterly, monthly and weekly meetings with myself to help me break my year into sections and keep myself on track. This is what informs my goals and brand planning for 2021. 

Yearly Focus

Setting a yearly focus gives you an overarching goal and big picture focus for the whole year. Even though things might change within your year, this is the main thing that’s going to overarch everything and give you something to focus on. 

In 2020, my focus for the year was clarity. Above all else, I wanted both myself and my audience to have total clarity about what I was doing. 

In 2021, my focus is going to be visibility. Now that I’ve clarified everything, my focus is now going to be getting that out there and being more visible to more people. 

Quarterly Focuses

These are going to help you break that main focus down into four quarters. The way that I do this is to give each quarter a general focus: 

  • Quarter 1: Content or social media. 
  • Quarter 2: Improving systems and processes. 
  • Quarter 3: Increasing subscribers and followers. 
  • Quarter 4: Hitting financial goals. 

Then, I choose a specific focus for each quarter of each year. Each year, this is going to look completely different as you smash those goals and develop new ones. 

For example, in Q1 2020 I planned my blog content for the year and focused on getting my brand out there through my content. In Q1 2021, whilst the focus is still content, my specific goals will look different because I’ve already nailed the ones from last year! 

The Rocks System

Let’s start with the jar analogy… 

Imagine you have a jar and you need to fill it with some sand, pebbles and rocks. You can pour in the sand and maybe a couple of pebbles, but once you do, you don’t have any room left for the big rocks that you still need to fit in there. It’s too full of sand. 

Now let’s think about your year. You don’t want to fill up your year with all these tiny little things that aren’t that important but get in the way - you want to put the big rocks in first. These are the big goals and big missions that you have for each quarter. Once you’ve put your big rocks in first, then you put in pebbles and fill the rest with sand. 

  • Rocks: Set up your rocks for each quarter - these are the big projects that you want to get done to move your brand forward. Make them specific and set a deadline. 
  • Pebbles: Break your rocks down into pebbles. What are the specific steps that you’ll need to take to achieve those big goals?
  • Sand: Now you can fill up the rest of the time with sand. These are all the little things that aren’t going to help you move towards your big goals but still need to get done. 

How To Create Your Brand Plan

Now that you have the structure to plan for your year, where do you start? 

1. Look back at your review for 2020

Reviewing your brand each year helps you to work out what you want to keep doing, what you want to improve and what you want to try. You have all the data, research, information and experiences from that year to help you plan for the year ahead. Use this to write a big list and brainstorm on what you want to achieve in 2021. 

2. Create your rocks

Now you’re going to combine those ideas to create your rocks. Ideally, you want to have 3 big rocks per quarter. The best way to do this is to list out all your ideas and group them into categories based on your focuses for each quarter. Once you know your rocks, which are the big goals you want to achieve each quarter, you can break them down into the pebbles that will help you to achieve them. 

3. Write down your brand plan

Whatever is the best or easiest way for you, make sure that you write down your brand plan. Check in on it at your weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings. Look back on those goals to see how you did and what you’ve achieved. 

Plans can also change. By creating a brand plan, you can also check in to see if your plan is still making sense. For example, check in at the end of Q1 to see if your rocks for Q2 still make sense or whether you think you should change your focus.


It’s so empowering to feel in control of your business and to see how you can achieve your goals and the vision that you have for your business - not just daydream about it! I hope this gives you the confidence and clarity to plan what you want to achieve in 2021. I can’t wait to see your planning in action and I’m so excited for what 2021 is going to bring for you!

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Hollie stands resting her hands on the white desk behind her, wearing a black t-shirt tucked into orange pants and clear glasses, and smiling into the camera.

by hollie arnett

The brand coach for creatives, hand-lettering artist for herself, and cup of tea lover forever.

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