Maps are graphic representations, usually drawn to scale on a flat surface, of selected features–usually geographical, geological or geopolitical–of an area. A map may be a graphical depiction of the surface of the Earth or of another celestial body, or it may be a chart that presents data in an organized way. Cartography is the art and science of making maps and charts.
Many businesses make maps to visualize important business elements. Examples include customer sales activity by address and brick-and-mortar locations of critical resources such as manufacturing facilities. Business maps can also use demographic data through data append color-shading and labeling.
Often business maps are created by people called “cartographers,” who consider the purpose of the map and how they will use it before creating it. They also decide what information they want to present on a map, which determines the type of projection and scale needed. Maps can be printed on paper or displayed on computer screens.
Companies often create maps to gauge consumer perceptions about narrow product characteristics. For example, a beer map may evaluate brands for their bitterness and foaminess. While this type of perceptual mapping can be helpful, it lacks the analytical value of traditional market analysis and is not useful in developing brand strategies.