Church Branding 101 provides the basics with which you can create a church brand. Many churches can’t afford to hire an agency, nor do they have a qualified staff member, but they understand branding is important.
Branding is more than a logo. It’s understanding what you’re known for and deciding if that’s what you should be known for. It’s about correcting the lost world’s perception of the church.
Church Branding 101 is Evangelism 101. It’s not easy, but it is simple. If done properly, the Holy Spirit can use church branding to reach people who never knew they needed Jesus or the church.
Understand and fall in love with your community. Start by plotting family locations on a map. Look at clustering and eliminate outliers. Create a polygon around the main group. Then contact your Baptist association or convention office and ask them to assess your area demographically. You’ll be amazed at the data. This is who needs Jesus around you. Fall in love with your “reach area.”
Listen to your congregation. Create listening groups that correspond to the age groups in your community (boomers, millennials, etc.). It’s best to get a nonstaff person who is well liked to lead the conversation. Ask why they chose the church, if they know why anyone has left, what the church is doing right, what they’d like to improve. Compare group data.
Stereotypically describe who you’re great at reaching. Using the reach area demographics and what you’ve learned from listening groups, describe the easiest group to communicate with and reach (called a persona). What makes them part of the group? Age? Gender? Marriage status? Kids? Occupation? Needs? Concerns? Goals? Be specific and make sure the demographics targeted are enough in your community to sustain growth.
Discover a church branding thread that connects with God’s word. Since people love a simple tagline, create a unique, 3–5 word thread (tagline) with user-friendly language that implies a pain point and/or solution you want your church to be known for. It probably won’t sound religious, but you can use the engagement to connect to the gospel.
Create a visual “wrapper” for the thread. In our visual world, people need a controlled logo, brand fonts and colors that represent you. Make sure the logo is simple, unique and professional — and your persona would probably accept a gift with the logo on it. Use a designer. Please.
Use communication tools to create a journey to a solution. Church Branding 101 has now uncovered a target audience; revealed needs, concerns and goals; and you have a thread that gives a benefit (a path to a goal or a solution to a need or concern). Now consider ministry on-ramps that will attract your persona (probably online), and steps to help them discover your ministry solutions. Ensure your members know how to connect the church branding thread to the gospel message.
Maintain consistent control over time. A church brand that’s well done and controlled will take about three years to become known. It’s an evangelistic process that will make you relevant and needed again in your community, and will help you connect the lost to Jesus.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark MacDonald is communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication.