Brands that do good for the society as well as for themselves are motivated by the core values they espouse, which necessitates a better understanding of what qualities a true core value must possess. The inherent tension within brands that do good, between commercial interests to increase competitiveness, and societal interests that are closely linked to the brand’s authenticity, has largely been overlooked. Hence, we develop and demonstrate a relatively easy-to-apply visual tool for evaluating core values based on a set of ‘goodness’ criteria derived from extant theory. The Core Value Compass adopts a paradox-based, evolutionary perspective by incorporating the inherent tensions within true core values, and classifying them according to their temporal orientation. Thus, we contribute towards a better understanding of underlying tensions of core values, and provide a practical tool that paves the way for improved, and indeed ethical, corporate branding strategies. Furthermore, we demonstrate the Compass’ application using the case of a public sector brand, which is a quintessential brand that does good. Thereby, we also contribute to the nascent theoretical discourse on public sector branding. This paper therefore adds to the notable attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice in core values-based corporate branding.