Creating Your North Star
There’s not always a clear linear path for creating The North Star for a project. It’s a little messy, and it should be—this is creative work after all. Although our process differs slightly for each project, we often start by capturing key phrases, concepts, and ideas through our early conversations and research. Don’t worry about wordsmithing too soon, or focusing on creating catchy phrases just yet. Get the core ideas on paper and start to look for patterns.
Once we have a comprehensive list of these concepts, we try to group them into 3-4 main themes or directions that could shape our angle or approach for the project. We schedule a North Star review meeting to discuss the different directions at hand, and test each North Star direction with the following questions:
Can it help us make practical, creative, and strategic decisions throughout the project? Does it unify most of the other key strategies, concepts, and ideas on our list? Will the path it illuminates lead to the outcomes we’ve set out to reach?
In many ways, the true value of The North Star are the conversations that this meeting inspires. If there is misalignment across the team, it will come out here. And it’s much better to realize these underlying issues now rather than later in the project when the direction has been set, work has been completed, and key decisions have been made.
It can be hard to make a final decision on The North Star. It may take stepping away, digesting, and coming back fresh to asses the best choice. Don’t fret over getting this absolutely perfect. There’s often more than one right answer, and sometimes this is an exercise in prioritization. An imperfect North Star still creates more clarity than cloudy skies. Doing the hard work of establishing your North Star early on in the project will undoubtedly pay off in the long run.
As a social purpose brand, your mission is bold and your path is often difficult to navigate. The North Star is one useful tool in your broader arsenal, a helpful guide as you spread your impact and move humanity forward.