Churches are beginning to awaken to the importance of branding to communicate their "essence" to their communities. Actually, churches have been practicing branding for years without knowing what it was called. With all the buzz about "branding" these days, it seems to me that the fad stage is almost over. While there will always be branding of some kind, we should see a new marketing fad creeping over the horizon we call innovation (perhaps a misnomer) soon.
We often see branding maldefined. A logo is not a brand. A color pallette and a style sheet are not the main components of a brand. These are important, because your logo and style do communicate attributes of your church/ministry. Are you serious or fun-loving? Modern or classical (or post modern)? Are you relational or institutional? Your logo and style can communicate many things about your culture . . .
But, it's only relevant if the experience a person has with your ministry is consistent with the identity you postulate with your logo, message and media.
People today of all ages (being influenced mostly by younger generations) are searching for the authentic. That's why it's critical that the experience you provide is consistent with the image you paint. Image is generally only important today when it is steeped in reality. The age of hype is over. Say what you are. Be what you are. And be very sure there is tight correlation between the two.
If you are looking for ways to effectively communicate the unique brand of your church or ministry, a good place to start is by asking input from your members and supporters. Compile a list of adjectives describing your ministry and if you are the singular leader, adjectives describing you. Get a list of at least 50 adjectives and then narrow it down to the five adjectives that best describe the uniqueness of your ministry. Use phrases or even make up new words if needed. It's just a start at the daily process of discovering who you are. . . as a ministry and/or as a person.
Find a good firm to help you develop the written, visual and even musical elements of your brand. Above all things, be sure to make this a team process. Who are we? What are we? What makes us unique? What do people remember most about us? What is our calling?
Remember, people are much more visually sophisticated than ever before. Not just with television, but with all forms of visual media and communications. If you want to have any hope of being relevant in this world, at least a part of your brand needs to shout forth a visual message that is relevant. Unless you intend to be branded as "old school", it may be time to sacrifice that tired logo and those dated visual styles on the altar of progress and develop a look, a message and a plan for growth that is fully consistent with your dreams, aspirations, callings and reality.