What Is a Brand Compass and Why Your Business Should Have One
A brand compass is a crucial tool to anchor your brand decisions and ensure coherence across all brand elements.
Jack Canfield - an award-winning speaker and best-selling author - famously said: "If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, life flows much more easily."
Knowing your goals and aligning your life choices with them is good advice for anyone. They act as a compass, helping you stay on your course.
Every business, large and small, also needs such a compass - and every successful company has one. In fact, if you want your business to succeed, you should have distinct goals for each brand.
Most small businesses only serve one customer segment. However, occasionally, the customers can be very different, for example, Gen Z versus Baby Boomers. In this case, one brand alone cannot appeal to the customers in each group, making it sometimes necessary to create a separate brand for each customer segment.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's pause for a moment and define what a brand is?
What Is a Brand?
A brand is how a product, a service, or a company is perceived by those who interact with it. These can be customers, suppliers, employees, or the public. Their perception of a brand is often a subconscious feeling. When you think of BMW, Apple, or Lululemon, you probably feel the thrill of the ultimate driving machine, the confidence from wearing a stylish, high-quality watch, or the satisfaction after an invigorating workout. You have these feelings because these companies masterfully create them.
But before you can follow their lead and create a powerful brand, you need to establish a brand compass - a set of fundamental truths about your brand, a kind of true north. A brand compass helps you not to get lost along the way.
The Brand Compass
A brand compass consists of 5 elements: your purpose, vision, mission, values, and goals.
Your Purpose - The Why
The purpose of you business or brand answers the question of why you do what you do. What drives you? What are you passionate about? In that sense, purpose is targeted passion. It is directional, channeling your energy towards achieving your goals. Purpose is the reason why you founded your company beyond the money-making aspect.
Your Vision - The What
As a passionate entrepreneur, you have a view of what your business should become in a couple of years. In our fast-paced world, I do not believe that a vision can stretch more than five years. But, still, five years is a long time. Try to describe how your brand will feel then, with whom will your brand interact, and which emotions will your brand evoke.
Your Mission - The How
Your mission statement describes in broad terms how you plan to achieve your vision and your goals. It is a kind of roadmap, a strategic master plan, that lays out what you do, how you do it, for whom you do it, and what value you create.
Your Values - The Imperatives
Your values anchor your purpose, vision, and mission. They are so fundamental to your company's culture that they are beyond debate. These values often consist of moral, ethical, and philosophical imperatives, principles you won't give up under any circumstances. They answer essential questions like what your brand stands for and how you want others to view your brand?
Your Goals - The Milestones
While your purpose, vision, mission, and values may be more general, your objectives set tangible goals you want to achieve by a specific date. They are milestones to operationalize your mission to realize your vision.
Before you invest in a new logo, redesign your website, or sell to a new customer segment, you should go through the process and establish a brand compass or, if you already have one, update it.
Whenever you need to make a decision about your brand, you can go back to your brand compass and make sure that your decision aligns with it.
Consulting your brand compass every time you make a brand decision may feel cumbersome initially, but that's how you ensure coherence across all brand elements — and coherence creates powerful brands.
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