8 Church branding tools for beginner graphic designers

8 Church branding tools for beginner graphic designers

Ever feel like it would be nice to design something that looks beautiful, but you just don’t have the tools or the know-how to make it happen?

I felt the exact same way in year 9 art class. I wanted to create a beautiful painting of a glorious sunset, and instead, I found some watercolour pencils and scribbled out a quick sketch of one, then painted some water over the top to make it look like a painting. Essentially it was a painting, and it did look like a sunset, but even my teacher said, ‘I think you can do better than this’. Now, I am no artist by any means, but I knew that if I’d bothered to choose the right tool (oil paints) for the job, I wouldn’t have failed my own vision so dismally. 

Attempting great feats of graphic design can land us all in the same hot water. Especially when we take into account our beginner skill set and a limited budget. If you want to use professional tools and are willing to learn to use them, check out the Adobe Suite.

However, if you want free tools that will help you achieve some graphic design projects quickly and beautifully, I’ve listed the cream-of-the-crop below. Check them out and let me know what you think!

5 steps to more church connections (using welcome cards!)

Let me ask you something. When a visitor or newcomer comes to your church, how do you get their contact details?

Do you run up to them at the end of the service and scribble their phone number on a piece of paper? Do you hand out slips of paper asking them to fill out their contact details? Do you let visitors slip through your fingers, and just hope they’ll keep coming back?


Feel like listening instead of reading?

5 steps to more church contacts (using connection cards!)

Lets use our imaginations:

Imagine you’ve been invited over to someone’s house, and you don’t really know anyone going, but you know the host a little and you’re interested in getting to know them more. 

When you get to the party, no one greets you or talks to you, and you sit in a corner alone until you can’t bear it anymore, and you get up and leave to go home, feeling sad and a bit humiliated. 

What if when you arrived at the party, instead of being ignored, one of the host’s friends came up and introduced themselves and a few of their friends, and you chatted for ages, shared some laughs and nibbles, and went home with your heart full. In the next day or two that person sends you a text saying how great it was to meet you, and hopefully they’ll see you at the next shindig. 

You’d feel glad that you’d gone to the party, right? You might even go along to the next one, especially now that you know you’ve got a friend. 

Follow up with church visitors is important, peeps! Now, let’s talk about how to do it!

Introducing, the Welcome Card system…

You might also know the welcome card as a connect card, prayer card, communications card, care card… or something similar. 

I’m talking about the card that you hand out to church visitors to grab their contact details in a (hopefully!) non-creepy or invasive way. 

Now, you might have a welcome card already, but do you have a system in place that will ensure that every visitor will receive and fill out your church’s welcome card? 

1 | Simplify your card

Cut the unnecessary details from your welcome card. We don’t want this card to be a giant-government-esque need-to-know-everything card. We just want to know one way to best contact the visitor after the service, to let them know how much we appreciated them for coming along. That’s it. 

The less details you ask for on a welcome or connection card, the more likely it is that someone will fill it out. 

Here are some examples of super simple, but very effective welcome cards (the first asks for a little more information than the second):

Church connection card examples

For more inspiration for your own connection card, click here to check out my Pinterest board that is jam-packed with ideas!

Limiting to just asking for one or two things makes you seem less invasive, while also giving you what you need. Really, do you need to know how old they are, how many people are in their family, or how to spell their last name? At this stage, no.

The other good thing about a simple welcome card is how easy they are to design! You could even make yours by using a business card template on Canva! Or check out these brilliant free templates from Ryan at Ministry Voice.

2 | Decide on distribution

Figure out what will work best at your church to distribute the cards. Have a think about what systems are already in place! Where do you give out your print newsletter, if you have one? This might be a good place to start, however here are some ideas of how you can give out your welcome cards:

  • At the door when guests are entering
  • Left on each seat before the service (or in the back of your pews)
  • On a ‘welcome’ table at the back of the church to be filled out after the service
  • Distributed by designated ‘welcomers’ who are appointed to specifically notice newcomers and start a conversation with them
  • Handed out with coffee after the service
  • Distributed in a visitor welcome notice during the service

Be careful when deciding on distribution. Think about what the visitor might be feeling (most probably don’t want to be singled out during the service), or they might feel like they’re being watched if someone approaches them afterwards. 

My preferred methods of distributing welcome cards are:

  • At the door when guests are entering
  • Left on each seat before the service

Here’s why:

  • You can make sure every person has a welcome card
  • It is less invasive, as the visitor is not singled out, or eyeballed while they’re filling out the card
  • They have the time and are sitting down (during the service)
  • It takes the least effort for the visitor, and doesn’t rely on them doing anything after the service, or sticking around to check out the welcome area or coffee
  • It makes it easier for you to collect them!

3 | Collection!

Collecting the cards will depend on how and when you distribute them, but here’s a couple of ideas:

  • Ask visitors to place their welcome cards in the offering bag/bucket
  • Ask them to place the card in a specific box in the foyer
  • Give them to a member of the church (who will then need to put the card in a box elsewhere to keep them all contained)

4 | Other things to keep in mind

Some churches like to ask everyone in the congregation to fill out a welcome card, to make visitors feel more at ease. The only issue with this is the incredible cost to print that many welcome cards each week. It might be something to consider though! You could compromise and ask regular attendees to fill out a welcome card if they’ve noticed that they’re sitting near a visitor, to save you on printing but still make your visitor feel welcome. 

5 | What next?

You might be wondering, now that I’ve got their contact details, how do I actually follow-up a visitor or newcomer? I’ve got another blog post on exactly that! Check it out here. 


Take action!

Create your own simple church welcome card, then implement a system at your church for collecting visitors' contact details!

How to: Spring-clean your newsletter

Church newsletters, are, arguably, one of the most difficult documents to put together in a church. It requires gathering information from a range of different people in different formats, then squashing all of the text onto the page so that everything fits in perfectly, and still looks remotely readable. Then there’s still the printing/folding/stapling process. It’s a lot. 

So, after all this work, you really hope that people appreciate and use the newsletter. It is beyond frustrating when you walk around after church and see that most people have left theirs on their seat. 

The best thing we can do to combat this, and make a readable, functional and useful newsletter, is to give it a little bit of a spring-clean! Today we’re talking about spring-cleaning the text, so stay tuned….

Feel like listening instead of reading?

Cut the unnecessary 

Straight up, I can say that I’ve seen a lot of newsletters with the word ‘Notices’ up top. While you may think its important to say what is underneath, it is really just stating the obvious! You don’t need to say this, so cut it. Take this as an example, and cast an eye over your whole newsletter. Are you constantly stating the obvious? Be absolutely brutal in cutting words. Two words are better than three. One word is better than two. This will help you streamline the function of your newsletter. 

Think about the importance of the information

Everyone thinks that their event is the most important. But I’m afraid not all events are created equal when deciding on positioning and number of words required in a newsletter. 

A general rule of thumb is to think about the number of people affected by the event. If it is an article by the pastor for the whole church, it should have prime position and more space. If it is the details of the women’s Tuesday night Bible study, it can easily be tucked away in the corner. 

Remember who, what, when, where, why

Back in primary school, I think most people had to recite the mantra, ‘Who?, what?, when?, where?, why?’, and subsequently answer those questions in their story. It’s a simple point, but make sure you’ve answered these questions when writing about an event before you send your newsletter to the printing press! It will save you scribbling on them in pen later on. 

If you grab a copy of my advertisement template above it will help your audience to access the information in a logical way, and they can easily refer back to it later without reading a huge paragraph!

Avoid over-explaining

Sometimes when inviting people to events in newsletters we can get super-wordy, and over-explain the entire event. When advertising an event in your newsletter, you should give a short, one-sentence explanation or invitation, then give the details in an invitation format. 

Let me show you an example: 

DON’T

CWA WEEKEND CONVENTION - FOR ‘SUCH A TIME AS THIS’
Friday 18 and Saturday 19 June 2016 at Farmbridge School, Alison Ave, Marden. Friday 7:45pm, Saturday first session 9am, second session 11am, third session 2pm. Cost: Friday & Saturday: $60, Friday night only: $25, Saturday only: $50 (includes morning tea and light lunch). Pre-registration essential. See the registration form on the notice board. For further information contact Carol, phone 0400 000 000. 

DO

For such a time as this…
CWA Weekend Convention
Need to hit refresh? This convention is run by women, for women, and will help you dig deeper into the truths of Esther, and find God’s calling on your life.
When: 18-19 June
Time: Friday from 6:30pm, Saturday from 9am
Where: Farmbridge School, Marden
Cost: $60 for the whole weekend
For more: Check the notice board or contact Carol on 0400 000 000. 

The ‘don’t’ example was actually taken from a real newsletter, however the places and names have been changed for privacy. The strange thing is, I have managed to say a lot more, in a more readable way, and with less fluff. 

The trick is to realise when you’re over-explaining. In the example, it was completely unnecessary to explain the costs and times for each section of the convention. Of course, this information might interest one or two people, but they can easily find the information by checking the notice board or contacting Carol. Thankfully, you don’t need to completely clutter your newsletter just ‘in case’ someone can’t make it to the entirety of a convention! This will give you much more freedom to cut down on words, making your newsletter much more user-friendly.

Avoid long URLs

URLs are another name for your website address, which are really useful for people to have, but can take up a lot of room on your newsletter. A quick way to fix this is to delete the ‘http://www.' from your URL.

http://www.saltsociety.org=  saltsociety.org

This will give you the same result when you type it in, and just looks a little cleaner, while saving you space! 

If you have an incredibly long URL that you want to add in, you can make a new, shorter URL using bit.ly

Choose one point of contact 

I used to think that it made sense to give people as many different options as possible to contact, in case they preferred one over the other, and then another person preferred contacting a different way, etc. I also thought it made the event look really official and put together if you had the information in lots of different formats. 

Boy, was I wrong! 

When you give someone contact details, its like giving them a call-to-action (or CTA). If you haven’t heard of CTAs before, they are simply what you ask someone to do when they’ve finished reading your content. So, when you’ve finished reading this blog post, I’ll probably ask you to join my resource library, where you can get access to even more information on church communications. Rather than working really hard to get you to stay on my website and then giving you nothing more, I’m telling you what you can do next to stay in touch. That, my friends, is a Call To Action. 

So, say you’ve convinced someone to come to your event through your little notice in your newsletter; what do they do next? 

It will probably be some form of contact - either visiting the website, or chasing someone down after church, or standing on their head…I’m sure you get what I mean! What I recommend is to give them just one point of contact. 

This is because we humans are incredibly daft sometimes. It has been repeatedly proven by marketing scientists around the world that we need to be told exactly what to do. So, by giving them just one email address, they know exactly what they need to do. If you give them an email address and a phone number, they then have to decide what to do, which takes effort, and then eventually, they’ll most likely end up doing nothing. 

Which point of contact do I choose?

It really comes down to what the event is about and who it is for. When in doubt, choose to give an email address. Almost everyone has an email address, and can send an email without the fear or embarrassment that might come from a phone call or interrupting someone’s coffee after church.

I hope these quick tips have helped you spring-clean your newsletter! Don’t forget you can pick up your template for the perfect event advertisement from below. 

Happy decluttering!