BrandPlan Blog Images_BrandPlan2016

Work on your Brand Plan One Bite at a Time | BrandPlan2016 | Kris With a K

By Kris Windley

BrandPlan Blog Images_BrandPlan2016

We’re going to tackle this whole Brand Plan thing a little bit differently in 2016.

Because anaesthesia-by-donut with a side order of guilty-self-flagellation aren’t going to cut it for me this year.

I had HUGE plans for 2015. To be honest? I have huge plans for every year that is about to happen. It’s easy when I’m comfortably sitting in December-land, where all I have to do is make broad proclamations about what I’m “going to do”.

As soon as I start wading through the real world of that actual year, my giant plans start to unravel, & I think I know why.

It’s because I get way too detailed & intense about my December planning. I do that thing where I just list all of the goals I’d like to reach…& then I cram them into the year in a seemingly logical way.

Like they’re little Tetris planner blocks & all I have to do is fit them into a space on a worksheet, & they’ll magically happen, as a result.

Click to Tweet: My goals aren’t Tetris blocks. They need to do more than just fit on a list; they need to happen in the real world.

And the real world is messy. It’s unpredictable & exciting & boring & difficult, & it doesn’t exist to make our plans easy to execute. We show up some days with all of the energy & fire we need to conquer everything on our ToDo list…& other days, we can’t even show up at all.

Or we do show up, but we’re still in our Star Wars jammies & can barely respond to an email from our own mum, let alone complete the list of tasks our super-charged former selves laid out for us.

I have no idea which days will be which next year, kitten, & neither do you.

I might end up with a sick kid (or 2) for a month straight. I might end up sick for that month too (this is a very real thing in my world right now…pass the Kleenex wouldja?), & if that happens, my very orderly & detailed ToDo list is totally useless, because honestly? I am totally useless.

Seriously. The Kleenex?

So the key to dealing with those inevitable ups & downs of productivity, while still conquering major goals & moving forward like we want to?

It’s all about simplicity, flexibility & attacking things one bite at a time. It’s about having an outline that will guide us, but not hold us hostage.

I do a great big Brand Plan Outline every December to help me frame out my plans for the coming year. It offers the hope of a brand new year, full of excitement, potential & the I-haven’t-screwed-it-up-yet vibe we all love so much about planning the future, but it also lets me create a strategic framework I can fill up with the appropriate projects & tasks as the year actually happens.

I broke up my overall Brand Planning into 5 steps this year.

I’m pretty pumped to share them with you, but remember to let it be simple, & do it one bite at a time to avoid being overwhelmed by the whole thing.

Plan to do this over the course of a week or so, allowing for daydreaming time, free-writing & journalling time & even some research time.

Click to Tweet: Every time your plans start to snowball & freak you out, take a step back & breathe. One bite at a time!

Bite 1 ~ Figure out/revisit your Great Big WhyThis is the real reason you are doing the thing you do instead of any of the 75 million other things you could be doing.

It’s not about paying the bills or saving for retirement; it’s about the impact you feel compelled to make in the world, & don’t tell me that you don’t make an impact because you, “only draw cartoons,” or, “just make pretty things,” or some other excuse. You do.

At least you should! If you’re not impacting your readers, you are not doing your job. If your customers aren’t impacted (joy & satisfaction are impact, btw), you need to re-evaluate whether this is a business you are running, or a hobby you want people to subsidize.

Remember that every thing you do in your business should be supporting your Great Big Why in some way, or it’s going to drain you & make you resent it.

Bite 2 ~ Focus on a Legacy you want to leave the world. This is the dream that gives you the chills & thrills & excitement-motivation, & it’s the pinnacle of how you want to live that Great Big Why.

Your legacy is what you want to leave behind in the world. It could be a company you leave to your kids, or it could be a sense of community for those who love something that is important to you too.

Mine is big & impossible & crazy & perfect & inevitable & totally exciting for me to dream about.

Bite 3 ~ Brainstorm the steps you need to take to get to that goal.

Write down everything. Remember that brainstorming means you aren’t allowed to judge the things that come to mind; you just have to let your mind range & write down everything. Some of the craziest ideas here may lead you to gold later.

I brainstormed all of the things I need to accomplish, gather & learn in order to make my own goal a reality, & then I started to build the most logical path I could take in order to get there.

I realized that it’s POSSIBLE! It’s huge, but I can get there, one step at a time.

I made a wild guess at how long each step might take in a perfect world, & it ended up being 12-15 years. That’s a long time, but it’s possible! And I know what I need to do now.

I am also SUPER flexible about my expectations for each of those coming years, because I can’t be sure of what leaps & bounds might happen in one year, or what madness might pop up in my life in another year, but I do need to know what the steps will be in general, so I can steer my ship in the right direction.

Bite 4 ~ Choose a measurable first step toward that longterm goal that you will undertake this year, & make it SMART.

I wrote about SMART goals here, last year. Check it out & grab the printable there too, to make sure that your goal for this year is SMART (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-bound).

This is my overall goal for the entire year, so it’s pretty important. I don’t just stab at my brainstorm page & grab one; I really decide on the appropriate first goal I need to reach in order to best support my longterm plans & my day-to-day happiness.

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Brand Plan, Planning, Year end plan, business plan

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Brand Plan, Planning, Year end plan, business plan

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Brand Plan, Planning, Year end plan, business plan


Bite 5 ~ Brainstorm Outcomes you need to see in order to make your 2016 SMART Goal inevitable.

After I brainstorm for a while, I like to choose 4 outcomes that I will focus on (1 per quarter). I spend some time thinking about what my year will look like, how my creative energy ebbs & flows, & how my industry behaves over the course of the year.

Then I give each quarter of the year an outcome that will lead to the overall goal for the year & brainstorm some of the things I’ll do to get there. Keep it simple & flexible; this is just about committing to the outcome for each quarter & writing down some potential ways you could meet those goals.

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My Brand Plan Outline for 2016 looks like this:

  1. Rebrand & build current programs in the Academy:
    * Website design & copy
    * Blog Your Voice upgrades & awesomeness
    * Design Your Process course built & offered
  2. List building & overall presence
    * Podcast with a partner?
    * Guest interview on other podcasts
    * Guest posts
    * Speaking engagements
  3. New Product (Course) creation & launch
    * Web Copy course – one page at a time
    * Companion book(s)
    * Funnel & Launch
  4. Passion Project & Creative refuelling
    * Instead-of-Nano mastermind
    * Research & apply to Ryerson program
    * Work on short story for competitions

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Ahhh!!!! I did the thing!

Then I walked away. I gave my plan time to breathe & I went back to do some light tweaking. I think I’m pretty solid on the 4 outcomes at this point, but I will reevaluate each quarter, to make sure that they are all still realistic & doable.

And I will dive into each outcome on its own too, but not today, kitten. Today, I’m going to celebrate this accomplishment with some chips & dip & a few hours of Netflix with the girls (& the Kleenex).

Because if I try to eat an elephant all in one bite, I’ll probably choke & die, so I’m going to let this sit & come back next week to continue the #BrandPlan2016 series with my editorial calendar (now that I have a framework for my year, it should be a piece of cake).

Comment below & tell me what your legacy could be, & feel free to ask any questions you may have about the process. I want you to feel this feeling of I-know-what’s-coming-&-it’s-all-good, because it’s pretty awesome.

If you want a hand, running through this planning process, I still have a few spots available after the holidays for one-on-one coaching & I could take you through this whole process in one VIP Day to get your outline set up & ready to go for next year.


Kris With a K | Professional Writer & Copywriting Coach


Kris is a writer, editor, illustrator, teacher, mother of two amazing young ladies - and enthusiastic cat-belly snuggler. A certified teacher, long-time blogger and experienced brand consultant, she writes about Writing, Business and Blogging...and sometimes about Changing the World.


  1. I missed this post during my hiatus and am just reading it now! I want my legacy to be a community of creative women who don’t put themselves last, who continue to dream and create and live adventurously through their whole lives. 🙂

  2. That’s my plan this year Kris….I caught your periscope today and seeing your blog planner in action was awesome, not to mention your wall calendar. Next week Monday is on my schedule for blog planning for the remainder of this quarter using your tips. So many ideas for posts are scattered…now to coral them and #makeithappen. Total thanks!

    • I’m glad you like it, Grace!

      If you have your brand plan clear, you should be able to sort your ideas into the right quarters to support your goals best. I’m so happy to hear that you’re tackling your blog planning 🙂


  3. What a fantastic post, Kris!! So helpful….maybe a little overwhelming as I sit here with 3 or 4 notebooks full of notes and ideas and free thinking STUFF. Oy.
    So a legacy? Hmmmm. I guess that would be to pass on my love of knitting to as many people as possible, and help them feel encouraged and proud of their work. As with any art, it’s so important to build people up and have them feeling confident about what they are making.


    • I love that legacy, Patty!

      I know how important it is for me to feel proud of my creative work too, so I can see how helping people to find that should be a key ingredient of your legacy. That can give you lots of writing ideas for your blog & site too – giving your readers a forum to share their work, showcasing the work of one of your readers, sharing stories (like your Great Bg Why post) about how you’ve grown as a knitter…the list goes on! 🙂


  4. This was a fun and simple exercise. I have been stumbling over where to start for weeks now. I love the quarterly goals! My legacy that I hope to leave is a feeling of family. My aunt used to send birthday cards, every year, without fail. My other family members did various crafts, sewing, special projects, etc. I want to help pass on that legacy by sharing scrapbooking and card making with others. The steps have all been in my head, the why, the goal, the legacy… but to give them some order is amazing!

    • Oh that’s a beautiful legacy, Kathleen!

      It’s pretty great to take all of the ideas & make them into a sensible step-by-step plan. It’s like you can really see the things happening, right?


  5. I think in the past I don’t carry through with my “plans” because things do change and feel too constrained with real life happening. I have a whole new perspective today that it’s ok to stray from the plan when needed. Thanks Kris!

  6. I finally dag through my emails to get to this post! I love it. It’s early morning, the sun is just rising out my window (blinding!) and I’ve already wrote my mission statement post that will frame the year, triggered by this post (so I will have to read it again in one stride, haha)
    Last year was a struggle. I thought I had a plan, but it all went to pieces, I lost my voice. I set out to do something beautiful but it shattered in stress and uncertainty and consequently and empty bank account, which caused more stress and uncertainty. BUT, it brought me to this place, where I finally figured out what I need to do to connect: my big why is to connect people to the beauty of the ocean (I was a dive guide and conservationist for a decade, but had to come back to landlocked) through jewelry. I went back to my roots and metalsmithing, wanting to create elegant, higher-end pieces inspired by the ocean with an educational twist.. and I totally failed, because somewhere along the line I forgot the magic I set out to share.
    Then a new found mentor told me “Aleks, just be like the water” – and it clicked! My whole new brand vision isn’t “buy this piece, protect the ocean”, which it became, it’s “be like water”. Water will always find a way. It resonates with me, it will resonate with my people once I find them and it brilliantly connects to the cause.
    It’s New Years Eve and I’m totally excited about tomorrow! Now just need to work on a plan to make it happen. One bite at a time (don’t need to save the world today, it will take time 😉 )
    Thank you for putting this plan in front of me!
    With love,

    • Ah! The power of words, right? “Be like the water,” will be a great focus for you this year, Aleks. I am just so happy to be a part of that focus coming together for you. I’m about to put out the next post in the series (better late than never) on editorial calendar planning, so keep your eyes open!


  7. I just worked my way through this, beginning with your post on finding The Great Big Why and wanted to say how helpful and inspiring the process was. I was not quagmired by too many worksheets, as has happened in the past. And as I always plan too much and dream big with no real plan on how to get there, I loved the idea of breaking things into how long they might take to happen (um, yes, so last year I tried to cram 5 years of work into one, while at the same time working a more-than-full-time job, taking on more freelance writing, and trying to keep my business going…..let’s just say that things started to slide on all fronts) Choosing four things to work on for this year that are actually doable, and assigning one to each quarter was a bit like a sigh of relief. And finding my Great Big Why…I felt like I reconnected for a minute with who I really am and why I started all of this craziness in the first place. Thank you!

    • Yes!!!

      It’s all about keeping it simple & realistic…but still rooted in the things that set you alight. I’m thrilled that it’s working for you so far, & I hope the rest of the BrandPlan series helps you too (it’s restarting next week, after the holidays; I took some of my own advice & made these 2 weeks total family time).

      Keep that connection to you & to your Great Big Why, Andrea! And come back to let us know how it goes.


  8. I love, love, love that you make it so unconstrained. I have a massive fear of constraints and that includes creating an outline of to-dos for an entire year. I embrace dry erase and vis a vis pens.

    You’ve made this outline and my goals so much more approachable, doable and in a way fun. Thank you!

    By the way, my big legacy – I want everyone to know how to tell stories and create empathy through photographs and I want to do that by teaching at risk students in my town photography as a form of communication, expression and art. I think they have a lot to say and too often have no way to say it to the world or don’t know how.

    • A-W-E-S-O-M-E Legacy!

      I love that so much, & I see a real parallel to my own. Keep that legacy in your sights, Kathleen & remember to let it be simple – one bite at a time.


  9. Hi, Kris!

    Man, I miss you! This a great post and we are so on the same page! You really have the “bestest” content! ♡

    I’m actually taking the whole day tomorrow and planning out my entire year. I’m super excited! I pretty much finished my brain dump today and I’m letting it sit.

    I still go back to our session last May and use it for guidance, super good tips and remembering my “Great Big Why”! So thanks again for that!

    I look forward to sharing more in the Facebook group and hearing more about what you’re up to, as well! 🙂


  10. We are off for Christmas break, and my plan is to envision what I want for 2016! I will be writing “ONE Bite at A Time” at the top of my plans! Cuz I love to run off with all the visions dancing in my head to find I danced, but in the dancing frenzy, forgot a few things or errrr….hid under the covers. 😉

    • Me too, Trish!

      I need to know what dance we’re doing, before I start to get creative with the steps 😉 Otherwise, I might end up pulling a hamstring, so to speak.



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