A recent "press release" I viewed at Religion News Service was titled - UNIQUE LOGOS HELP PEOPLE 'REMEMBER YOUR CHURCH'.
Turns out this "news release" was from Lifeway, who happens to sell a custom logo package to churches. Seems like there are a lot of branding experts out there these days. In fact, branding is talked about so much now, it must be passe. RNS provides a valuable service, and Lifeway is a great company, but . . . let me comment about logo mania and this press release in particular.
"Distinguishing symbols help set companies and organizations apart and convey a clear brand image to the public." - I disagree. What really sets your church apart is the experience someone has when they attend. If you are a media ministry, then it's the experience someone has while listening or watching. Branding is built on consumer experience primarily, not on logos and slogans. If the experience is remarkable, then and only then will someone have a reason to remember your logo or your slogan. So called branding campaigns that deal only with logos and slogans and color pallettes are shallow and ultimately ineffective.
Design is very important. But start by designing a remarkable experience, knowing that good design can also contribute to a that experience. But it's a means, not an end. A brand identifies the cow, but has no direct effect on the quality of the meat.
A "new look" can be a cosmetic fix that gives leadership the illusion that real change has taken place. Pastors admire the new brochures, ads, etc. . . but nothing may have fundamentally changed about what people find when they walk through the doors. That's where the real stuff happens. That's when people decide if you're friendly, if there is a passion for God, if the message stirs the heart . . . if the experience is something that will motivate them to remark about it to others and to want another helping themselves.
"Murray encouraged church leaders to look for unique ways to influence their communities through branding, slogans and logos. "Everybody has a cross," he said. "You need something to help you stand out." " - Here is what I think will make you stand out . . . first create a remarkable experience for those who attend. Then, and only then, translate that experience into a logo and overall identity brand for the church.
Yes, good design is important. And good architectural and engineering design can be a part of a remarkable experience. Logos are important to visually convey identity. Slogans are important to verbally convey identity. But they are merely handles on the stew pot of consumer experience.
And ultimately it's what is in the pot that will make the difference.