Our world is filled with guidelines that describe and define. And when these guidelines are broken, definitions become lost in the shuffle.
For example—What if you were playing a game of soccer and the goalie picked up the ball, threw it to one of his teammates, and then tackled the person next to him? We could then say that the game is no longer defined as soccer.
What if you went to the library and came across a couple bands having practice in the Romantic Fiction aisles? Well, we could then say that the building is no longer defined as a quiet place to read, but rather a place to strum an electric guitar.
Or how about if you decided to ignore your grandma’s recipe for peach cobbler and substituted ketchup for sugar? Well, then the dessert would no longer be defined as cobbler, but rather as something horrid that no one should ever have to eat.
Just like sports, libraries, and recipes are defined by a set of guidelines, churches should also be defined by a set of guidelines—visual cues that represent the identity and mission of the church. Another term for these visual cues is branding. Branding is essentially the impression your church gives to the community and how others perceive you as an organization. It’s the aesthetic look and feel of your church that sets you apart from all other entities.
Think of some major brands such as McDonalds or Starbucks. We are all familiar with McDonald’s golden arches and Starbuck’s iconic green straws. These brand giants have set themselves apart through the continuous use of logos, colors, taglines, and fonts. These repeated elements have given the companies certain impressions in the minds of consumers, and extremely successful impressions at that.
So what are these various elements that make up successful branding? And how can churches implement these elements effectively in order to shape how the public views them?
MISSION/TAGLINE: Before you jump to the visual look and feel of your church, begin by defining who you are. Write down a list of three to five defining statements of your church and what you hope to accomplish by opening your doors. Before you can promote your church, you must know what you are promoting. Also, developing a church tagline to use on your promotional materials can help define who you are in one concise sentence.
LOGO: The visual first element, and arguably the most important, to consider is your logo. It has been proven that your logo is 10 times more likely to be remembered than any other part of your branding identity.
Your church logo is a visual icon that defines who you are as a church body and will allow you to be easily recognizable by the outside public. The logo can be as abstract as you’d like. Don’t feel like you have to incorporate a cross, dove, steeple, or flames into your logo. People will understand that you are a church without incorporating those things into it.
COLOR: Another important part of branding is determining your church’s color scheme. If you’re at a loss as to where to start, begin by picking two main colors and one brighter, accent color. These are the colors that will be used on practically every promotional piece that your church produces, regardless of the medium.
FONT: Third, pick out a group of fonts that your church will use. Ensure that the fonts you chose are legible and easy to read.
The key to all these elements is consistency. You want to use the same logo, colors, and fonts across the board. So whether you are designing your website, putting up church signage, making PowerPoint templates, or creating direct mailers, your church will maintain the same look and feel. The more consistent you are in your visual design, the stronger people will be able to identify you.
Think of your church brand as its unique personality. It’s what makes your church who it is! Your church branding should reflect the people that the church is made up of. Are you a young and growing church in an urban area? How about a 100-year-old church on a hillside? Regardless of what your church may look like, you can create a brand that communicates your purpose and why you exist within the community.
Branding ties your story together. And ultimately, allows you to have a strong presence in order to communicate the ultimate story of Jesus Christ.
Brand your church while helping to brand people’s hearts with Christ.
5 ways to hurt your church brand (n.d.). TonyMorganLive. Retrieved from http://tonymorganlive.com/2012/11/28/5-ways-to-hurt-your-church-brand/
Fogg, S. (2012, November 21). 10 common branding mistakes that churches make. Steve Fogg. Retrieved from http://www.stevefogg.com/2012/11/21/branding-churches/
Shearer, B. (2013, March 13). Church branding—The 3 basic elements. Pro.Church.Tools. Retrieved from http://prochurchtools.com/church-branding-3-elements/