Look at churches like New York Time Square Church and Lakewood Church. They have worldwide memberships and viewership. What's their secret? There is no doubt that churches that are commanding millions of followers across the globe use branding to sell out their mission and purpose. Your brand is what congregants and followers think of you. This article offers meaningful insights on how you can brand your church to create a lasting impression on your followers.
Developing Your Brand – Identity, Visibility & Credibility
I have had the privilege of building brands for small businesses, e-commerce stores, and non-profit organizations. From experience, I know that a brand is not a logo or an image. It’s not a symbol or a slogan. It is more of a culture or something unique people can identify with you.
Successful brands create loyal customers and attract prospects. So, how can you make you’re a successful brand? How can you make it stand out? I have come to know that the art of branding relies on identity, visibility, and credibility.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, says:
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.”
Branding is all about creating a good rapport and impression on members and prospective followers. Developing the identity of the church starts with sowing the seeds that will yield the desired perception.
God himself does not want us to use His name in vain. He wants us to protect His brand.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” (Exodus 20:7)
Therefore, when developing the brand identity for your church, consider it as a beautification process – a process that makes people fall in love with your church’s mission, goals, and work. Effective branding of your church requires that you present the mission and purpose of your church to the congregation and community accurately.
Key takes when developing your brand identity include:
- Create a logo that aligns with your mission statement. Select an image as well as colors that carry your message across.
- Create a message (slogan). The slogan should appeal to Christians looking for a new church, your congregation, or a particular group identified in your mission
- Create a brand promise. This can be what the church wants to achieve and how it can achieve it.
- Start from the inside out. Mold your congregation and existing followers so that they carry the impression you desire. Cultivate your brand identity into your church members.
- Show consistency. Right from the mission statement, through the logo developement to developing your brand promise, ensure you’re saying and reinforcing a particular message.
Remember that the development process is gradual, and it takes you several months to launch a successful brand identity. Next on the line, is creating and nurturing your visibility. Think of your brand as a mirror. Is it reflecting what you want your audience to see? Is the message clear?
Brand visibility is imperative as it makes your church relevant year over year. It makes your mission and message evergreen. Enhancing, the visibility of your church involves borrowing marketing strategies from the business world.
You’ll have to create a plan, which will act as a blueprint for the whole process. You need to have a clear strategy and budget for the project. In some cases, you may want to hire brand marketers and ambassadors to market your church.
While marketing a church sounds like a corporate or a business thing, it doesn’t cut it. Why? The word “Christian” is a brand and a label in itself. People believing in God identify themselves as Christians; thus, from a business perspective, churches are brands.
Here is how you can bolster your brand visibility:
- Integrate your mission objectives with community needs. Let the church be the epicenter for change in your community.
- Create a website for your church where you’ll post your weekly sermons, bible studies, philanthropic activities, and so much more.
- Create podcasts and partner with local broadcasting stations to reach to a wider audience.
- Create social media handles for your church. Post inspiring quotes, church activities, sermons, etc.
- Be consistent with your message across all the channels.
Consistency builds credibility. Once your church is identifiable and visible, you need to maintain its reputation. Gregory Baum, a devoted Christian, writes about the credibility of the church at length. He explains how the Catholic Church spread around the world because of the credibility of their systems of operation. To cultivate the brand of your church, make every process from accounting practices to participate in charitable activities transparent. In short, run church processes like you would run a typical business!
Benefits of Church Branding
Church branding matters. It enhances the identity and mission of the church. With branding, churches can communicate their purpose succinctly. I have seen churches lose members while others grow their membership size. I have seen others maintain their reputation regardless of negative publicity that might be going around. It’s all about saliency in their brands.
Branding is Essential during Reputation Crises
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Lakewood Church offered to assist members and non-members by providing a place to shelter. But there was rising criticism that the Church wasn’t doing enough. Osteen and other church members came to defend the church, in an effort to protect the church’s brand. That’s the essence of branding.
Develop your brand to the level that its congregation and leaders can synergize their efforts to defend the church’s reputation. It is easier to settle scores with critics when your brand’s credibility is unquestionable.
Attracting New Members
Riza Casidy, in her research on perceived brand orientation, found that churches with strong brands easily attract new church goers. Brand orientation refers to how you place your mission and purpose in the context of the worshippers. It’s about creating a brand that resonates with the ideologies or needs of the community.
What you do and how you present yourselves molds public perception about the church. When your brand promise portrays God’s ultimate promise, you’re likely to attract new members to your church that desire to enrich their spiritual growth.
Advancing the Word of God
As a church, your mission is to expand God’s ministry and ensure that the word of God reaches as many people as possible.
“For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith and considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.” (Acts 11:24).
As seen from the text, a good church can reach out to a larger audience. Branding allows you to communicate with the world via broadcasting channels, social media, and church’s website.
Making You Different
Church branding will make your church unique, letting you command a particular congregation. The way you convey your message and perform church activities create impactful associations. Branding gives recognition and psychological value to your church members.
When your church offers practical solutions to worshippers, it makes it different. Balancing faith and daily life can be much easier if your church provides people help. You can create blogs or post testimonies to support and enrich your followers.
Do's & Don'ts of Church Branding
As you prepare to create a compelling brand strategy for your church, bear in mind the following:
- Involve all church leaders and build consensus on the best way forward in creating a brand.
- Notify the congregation of the branding process. Solicit for ideas from members and come up with something agreeable among most of the members.
- Have a team in charge of the process. Particularly, select members in charge of logo design and composition of the mission
- Identify the churches in your community and how they operate. Think of ways to make your church different and appealing.
- Partner with local charities and non-profits in advancing the church’s mission as you assist the community.
- Consider appealing sound systems, church service hours, languages, and service order.
- Recognize that branding is a gradual development. Maintain consistency in your strategies and trust the process.
- Most people think that there has to be across in the church’s logo. It doesn’t have to be. Just ensure that the logo is a reflection of your core mission and values.
- It’s not true that only a special church committee can design the logo. While such a committee can design the logo, always consult a graphic designer.
- Using complex or long church names can create the required attention. I will tell you this for free; short names work wonders in branding processes.
- Prioritizing presence of the church building as one of the pictures on the landing page of the church website is not necessary. While it is good, it’s not an effective branding technique. The church is about people. So, consider including images of the pastor or the congregation of the church.
- Mentioning the church everywhere in your brochures, website, and other media is not ideal. Concentrate on how the church can help people, how it can assist the community, and how it can bring solutions to resolve societal issues.
As you develop your church brand and watch it grow, it is essential to protect the identity and integrity of the church. On that note, let’s see quickly how you can manage a crisis story in the media.
Protecting Your Brand
Reputation is so fragile that it can shatter what you have been building in decades in a matter of seconds. How do you cushion your church from a developing story that can dampen your reputation? In preparation for such unfortunate times, you need to develop a step-by-step framework that highlights how church leaders will handle the situation. Be quick to respond to media questions, maintain consistency in your answers, and put in place corrective measures. Remember to appoint a single person to respond and collaborate with the press.
Don’t make your church lurk behind in the digital era. Consider church branding as your next big thing to refine the mission and purpose of the church. Branding is a vital tool for reaching out to a bigger congregation and creating impact across the world.