Many church leaders (and indeed church members) think branding is a dark art and that churches should run miles in the other direction. Thoughts turn to evil corporations and vast amounts of money wasted. In a church context most believe that only mega churches have any kind of formal branding and to do so would mean buying into marketing and in turn compromising what we stand for (yes this really is how I’ve had it explained to me).
What is church branding?
Before trying to demystify branding it’s worth understanding what it is. Most people think its a logo. In part this is true, there is the visual element to it. But branding is more than that, its an idea, a philosphy. When you talk about building a brand you are defining what an organisation is and what its about, a set of standards which the organisation must maintain.
The visual outworking of this is seen in a logo and its supporting design elements, imagery, fonts, colours. These should carry through to publicity materials and the website.
Why church branding?
So you understand that, good. But what’t the point? Does it make any difference? The first thing to say, is the visual aspect of your branding will never convey everything you are about. That’s the organisations job. What are the values your brand is promoting? Friendliness? Inclusiveness? Vibrancy? If I turn up to your church and am given the cold shoulder in an old dusty church, then you’ve done a bad job of executing your brand, no logo in the world can change that!
What it gives you is a visual cue that can be used to align yourself with certain values. It means, when a branded flyer drops through a neighbours letterbox, they know who it is and what they stand for. They begin to be comfortable with what your about and will form an impression of the organisation.
It will also help to show people how serous you are as an organisation. A well thought out design which has the right amount of information is a lot more appealing then two sides of an A4 sheet crammed full of text that know one will read. Thought has gone in to how something looks because the organisation cares about who will read it, its not amateur hour, time and effort is poured into communcations and publicity. This in turn gives an organisation more credibility.
Of course once you engage with your audience, its up to the organisation to display the churches brand values – so make sure you know what you are and who you are!
How to do it
Its not too difficult to achieve in all honesty. In fact, churches should already have half the job done. A church knows what they stand for, what values they hold on to, what personality the church has, what passions and drivers motivates them. It just needs to be formalised in some kind of document. Then from that work on how to visually represent it.
This is the point you made need a designer/web designer, you may have someone in the church who can do this. In manyw ays the point isn’t so much about what it is, but the fact that you have an idea, a representation that will be consistently carried over all materials and media to engage and create familiarity