MINISTRY BRANDING, YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND.
"Branding" is the sizzling buzzword for creating an identity for an organization, service, product, or event. Identity creation usually begins with a visual mark or logo, and carries that look or theme throughout a marketing campaign that introduces or broadens the appeal of a product or service among the members of a specific target group.
The logo, the visual cornerstone of the branding effort, must fit well into the organization's overall strategy and must work in harmony with all of the supporting elements of the "brand": correspondence, promotions, web sites, apparel, banners and signage, specialty products, multimedia, etc.
To many this might all sound a bit too much like business, and not much like a ministry concern. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus himself was a master of promotion, pushing the ultimate product - God's salvation - in every creative way He could. He spoke in parables, walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead and taught in synagogues, not to promote Himself, but to point to His main product: God's redemptive love. He was a walking, talking commercial for God's agenda. Branding is not your ministry's enemy. It is one of your greatest allies. So...
HERE ARE 5 REASONS WHY MINISTRY BRANDING SHOULD BE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
1. Because working through your branding will make your ministry more effective.
Working through your branding will clarify your purpose, core values, strategies, and goals. A brand cannot clearly and accurately communicate the organization's message unless all the right questions are asked (and answered).
What type of ministry is it? Who are we trying to reach? What are we trying to accomplish? What is our strategy for that? What are we trying to communicate, and how will our brand help us do that? Can the brand link existing departments or programs within the organization?
As these questions are answered, and as core values and objectives are analyzed, it will give your ministry a sharpened awareness of it's essence and mission.
2. Because your ministry needs a face.
Every organization wants to have a face that projects it's personality in a confident and charismatic light. Your logo, the springboard of your entire branding effort, is that face! In the same way that you get a first impression by looking at a person's face, people get an impression of your ministry when they first view your logo.
The logo is the most identifiable part of your organization's larger, more complex image. It represents the most enduring impression that a viewer takes with him after making contact. A great logo communicates core messages clearly, uniquely, and creatively, all in an instant. Line, texture, shape, and color are all elements that weigh in heavily as the appropriate balance is achieved. Don't underestimate the value of a strong logo. After all, it's your face we're talking about.
3. Because the world needs to know how you're unique.
Branding should communicate, or at least hint at, the qualities that make us different from all the others. A logo many times must represents something that is somewhat nebulous or intangible. It is the job of the logo to interpret and explain. When designing a logo, try to get at what is different about your group or organization. What special blend of traits distinguishes it from similar organizations? Is it professional and quality-minded in its programs? Is it trustworthy? Is it caring and friendly? Is it imaginative? Is its purpose clear and relevant? What images portray these nuances? These things may be able to be communicated with visuals, or may require a strategic tag line or scripture verse to further clarify the essence of your ministry.
4. Because branding communicates professionalism and integrity.
Very few of us want to be a part of something that is sub-par. We all want to be a part of an organization that really has its act together. Branding is probably the quickest way to build this perception. When the target audience appreciates a quality overall identity effort, they perceive the ministry to be as trustworthy as a friendly colleague or family member. Trust leads to loyalty. And it's the loyalty of that target group we're after.
Now, granted, in the end it's really what the ministry does that counts, not what people think it does. It must back up its branding with a track record for reliability and positive experiences. But the branding is the entry point, the first impression, the relationship launch pad.
5. Because branding is the only way to stay visible and memorable to your community.
All organizations, including churches and ministries, must realize that if we want to be visible in the marketplace of ideas and the clutter of society, we are going to have to compete for people's time and attention, just like everyone else. We must recognize the need to brand ourselves, to build that bridge to our target audience.
We must acknowledge that people receive information in a variety of ways. If we want to be "seen" by people, we must constantly find new and different ways to get our name and values out into the community.
Branding is simply a part of evangelism and promoting Jesus. It's about piquing interest. It's about communicating clearly. It's about being memorable.
Branding will create your ministry's image. It will define who and what your organization is. Like it or not, our ministries and organizations are judged on the appearance of their identities, as much as on their conduct and the programs they offer. Developing a solid identifying brand is certainly a worthwhile endeavor.
Church Art Works / One Way Out / Varsity Mascot Co.
Dave is the Creative Director for Church Art Works, a company that specializes in graphic design and apparel for ministry.
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