50 Simple Questions to Ask Yourself Before the New Year These questions, focused on branding and business growth, can help brands capitalize on past events and help you plan for the year ahead.
- Reflecting on these 10 categories will provide a comprehensive assessment of your brand.
- Distilling your reflections into actionable goals will give you traction (and optimism) for the year ahead
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We naturally begin to review things as our focus shifts to the new year (or a new fiscal year in any season). Assessing, lamenting, dreaming, dreading… Maybe it's a big initiative that someone in your leadership is spearheading, or maybe it's something entirely your responsibility to steer.
Regardless, I wanted to create a set of comprehensive prompts, written in plain language, that hopefully stir up some fruitful reflection, as well as a way to summarize and prioritize them into goals at the end. I've collected the prompts into categories to keep us focused.
The goal isn't to have a thoughtful response to every prompt but to pay attention to which prompts resonate most with you — and why. Every stone you turn over won't uncover a gem, but one of them will, and that's all that matters.
1. As our brand leaders, what do we value most in the world?
2. How would the world be different if our brand grew to become a household name?
3. If our brand were a person, how would we describe its personality?
4. How would an outsider describe what makes us unique?
5. Does our brand reflect the needs and aspirations of our target audience?
6. Which of our competitors do we want to become more like? (Think of these as a "north star.")
7. Which of our competitors do we want to become less like? (We call this a "south star.")
8. Has our market position changed over the past year? How so?
9. What aspects of our company truly differentiate us from our competitors? List everything that comes to mind.
10. Are there any emerging trends in our industry that we should consider embracing in the year ahead?
Last year's brand performance
11. What achievements are we most proud of in the past year?
12. Which strategies or initiatives were most successful?
13. What were some of our most frustrating setbacks or obstacles?
14. How have our customers' perceptions of our brand changed?
15. In the last year, have we received helpful customer feedback?
16. How would you describe our ideal customer? Get granular.
17. What does our customer want? And what do they want more than that? (Keep asking that second question until you run out of responses.)
18. Where do our customers tend to hang out?
19. How do our customers prefer to interact with us?
20. What's the health of our touchpoints with customers? (Think customer service, support, etc.)
Talk tracks and messaging
21. Are we speaking our customer's language?
22. Are we offering enough consistency and variety in our messaging?
23. When did we compellingly tell our brand's story last?
24. Does content marketing play a role in our communications strategy? Should it?
25. Are there words or phrases we consistently use that we should rework?
Digital presence and social media
26. In the last year, how have we tried to improve our SEO?
27. Is our website effective in converting visitors?
28. Which social platforms seem most beneficial for our brand to interact with prospective customers?
29. Do we have a content calendar or rhythm to posting on socials?
30. How can we be more consistent on these platforms?
Product and service evaluation
31. How would you rate our product/service's ability to meet customer expectations?
32. In the last year, what feedback have we received about our offerings?
33. How can we enhance our product/service quality?
34. Is there anything we can wrap-around our product/service to delight our customers?
35. Are there opportunities to flex from predominantly service into a product, or vice versa?
36. Does our internal culture reflect the diversity of our customer base?
37. How aligned is our team around our brand values?
38. Does our team feel engaged and motivated, or perhaps lacking in certain areas?
39. What professional development opportunities can we provide in the next year?
40. How can we actively improve our recruitment and retention?
41. What is the current financial health of our brand?
42. Are we charging enough (or too much) for our product/service?
43. Are there any creative ways to reallocate our budget to improve our operations next year?
44. Which new revenue streams could we explore?
45. What are our financial goals for the upcoming year?
46. What new cultural trends should we prepare for? (Think AI, Web3, etc.)
47. How can we promote a culture of innovation within our company?
48. Are there any strategic partnerships that could benefit our brand?
49. How will we measure success in the coming year? Should we schedule quarterly reviews of these questions?
And lastly — read through all of your responses to the previous 49 prompts and:
50. Dream up a list of five goals for the next year. Get specific.
Take the guardrails off your mind momentarily and allow yourself to dream big. We often overestimate what we can get done in a week but underestimate what can happen in a year. Dream dreams that your future self might thank you for. Be specific. Use measurable language.
After you have your five goals, prioritize them, listing them in order of significance and how impactful they'll be to your brand's growth over the next 12 months. Then, cross out the bottom two.
This will provide focus and keep three primary objectives at the front and center for you. Now that you have your top three, write the first actionable step under each. What's the smallest — but most apparent — step you can take towards each goal?
And look at that: You're already on your way to a brighter year ahead.
What's the best that could happen?