I once heard branding defined as ‘the intangible sum of your organisations attributes’. I think this is a fairly perfect summary: a brand is not simply a logo or a bunch of colours; it is everything that makes your church what it is today.
Branding is also a really great marketing strategy, and while I know that marketing can be a dirty word in Christian circles, knowing how to use business strategies can truly help you build up recognition for your church within your community.
In marketing, we talk about physical availability and mental availability.
Physical availability is when a product or service is on-the-shelf, available for you right now. So if I'm in the supermarket in Australia and I want to buy Tim Tams, I can because they are physically available. If I'm in the market in the USA, then I can't buy them, because they're not physically available.
Mental availability is when I have a feeling, and then I think of a specific brand that I’d buy. For instance, if I'm thirsty and then decide I want to have a Coke, Coke is mentally available to me, because I thought of it first when I was in a buying situation.
In the past, churches have been good at being physically available: if there is a community, there'll be a church there (in many countries, sorry if this is not the case for you!). And that’s awesome.
But being mentally available is what we really need to get good at now.
Imagine if someone was struggling in life, hitting rock-bottom, and then the first thing they thought of was going to your church to seek Jesus? Wouldn’t that be great?
And to bring this full-circle, that’s where branding comes in. When you’re good at branding, people will store you in their brains, and think of you when the time is right - you’ll be mentally available to them.
Bottom line: branding is awesome.
So, how do we use branding to become mentally available to our communities?
Branding helps us to create order out of chaos for people outside your church. By using great branding, you communicate how awesome your church is in little bite-sized chunks that people log away in their brain.
So, to make sure your church brand is sending the message you want to the people you want, have a look at the following steps:
Step 1: Pray
Admittedly, I often forget to add prayer to my process lists, but it is a hundred times more important than anything else I recommend.
Ask God for guidance for:
the direction of your church
wisdom for the branding process
a listening ear so you can follow his ultimate guidance
Step 2: Review your vision and mission
Check out your current vision and mission. What are the themes and values underlying these? Is the direction they are leading you in still relevant to your church today?
Step 3: Review the different ministries and events you're running
Make a list of every ministry and event your church runs throughout the year. Are there any underlying themes here? Who are you serving in these ministries?
Step 4: Find your people
Christ forgives all. And all should be welcome in your church. However, finding your people is more of a strategy than a divisive rule. Think about who it is in particular that you want to serve, and focus your branding and ministries to attract those types of people.
How old are they?
What do they do for a living?
What is their family set-up like?
How did they come to be at your church?
What do they hope to get out of coming to your church?
How long have they been a Christian for?
Are they interested in being involved in volunteering at church?
Step 5: Brand personality test
Fill out my free brand personality test workbook! This is a bit of fun, and will also help you gain clarity on the vibes your current brand gives off to outsiders. If you’re still finding this all a little mystifying, you’ll be glad to know that I have a free ‘Brand Personality Workbook’ that’ll take you through the process of getting to know what your church is actually on about.
Step 6: Create a value proposition statement
Know the value that your church brings to the table. A value proposition statement is a statement that allows you to focus on the value that your church can bring to your audience (or the people you want to appeal to). The reason these statements are so effective is that they tell you a little bit about what your organisation does, without getting flustered and giving too much detail. They peel back everything that is going on in your church, all of the different ministries and sermon series and Bible studies, into one simple statement that you can share clearly with people who are outside your church.
Step 7: Focus groups/survey
Conduct a survey or a couple of focus groups of your congregation - why not? See what it is they think of your church, the value that your church brings to their lives, and how you can better reflect that in the church branding.
Here are some questions you could try:
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend [insert church name] to your friends and family? Why?
What do you believe is the most valuable thing that has changed for you since coming to [insert church name]?
How do you think we can better reflect your favourite things about our church in our church branding?
Step 8: Craft a consistent brand
Use all of the information you’ve gleaned from the previous steps to create a consistent and awesome visual brand!
You’ll want to make sure you have the following:
Logo and variations
Value Proposition Statement
Templates for regular use [Instagram posts, Letterhead, PowerPoint]
Brand kit (Learn how to create one here)
Save all of these collaterals into one folder on Dropbox or Google Drive, and share it with the people who need to use it!
What do you think? Are there any steps you think I should add? Tweet @salt_society or comment below to let me know! I’d love to hear from you.