Church "Branding." Such an intimidating word, isn’t it? Well, maybe not as intimidating as it is confusing. Ask five of your coworkers to define your church’s brand and you’ll likely get five different definitions. (Spoiler: your brand is not just your logo). Your church staff and volunteers will likely have varying degrees of understanding of your "brand" and how to represent it well.
In this blog post we’ll give you a definition of branding, and in part 2 (coming next week), we’ll share some coaching tips, and some of our favorite plays to keep your team scoring points season after season.
What is Branding?
A rancher brands his cattle with the ranch’s logo. Naturally, some will automatically assume that when you mention branding you’re simply referring to a logo. Not so. Nowadays, branding is a marketing term with many deep and rich meanings beyond trademarks and copyrights.
Here’s the thing. Whether you know it or not, you already have a brand. It just may need some TLC. Here’s another thing: Everyone on staff at your church is in marketing because everything they do is sending either a positive or negative message to people inside and outside your church. That’s why it’s so important that every player understands how their position contributes to the team’s success.
Everything you do is under the umbrella of your brand. How your greeters greet and the ushers ush, the way your admin(s) answer the phone, how your worship experiences go. It’s all related. Visitor follow-ups, emails, social media posts, videos, outreach ministries, graphic design.
To simplify, think of your church’s brand in two ways – the tangible and the intangible.
Your brand is what people see (logo, print pieces, physical spaces, etc.), known as your brand identity. Okay, that’s easy enough. All your church communications problems are solved, right?
Intangibly, branding is how people feel when they’re engaged inside and outside the church. That’s a little more nebulous and is usually the source of the most confusion. Branding is the value your church delivers to the people engaged with you. It is a trusted experience, an emotional connection, and is what makes you unique. It’s what you are known for, how you’re perceived, and what people say about you to others. Branding is essentially the story your church is telling and the story that gets shared.
In a world of infinite choices, a strong brand is why people often choose one brand over another. The whole idea of “branding” is not to do the work of the Holy Spirit. But to intentionally add value and make your church’s position more clear and more appealing. The more your staffers and volunteers understand how their contributions are adding value to – or subtracting value from – the church’s brand, the more effective you’ll be together.
Here’s a bonus benefit -- and one that might just be the most important to church communicators. A strong, commonly understood brand also chalks the sidelines to help leaders decide whether to say, “Yes” or “No” to new ministry ideas that come along. “Does this new idea align with our brand?” Very helpful indeed.
You Are Your Brand Champion
Your brand is a big deal, but coaching your team doesn’t have to be overwhelming. What’s a brand champion, you ask? In a word, “you” are the Brand Champion. The Cambridge Dictionary defines is as a person who: is responsible for creating and developing a brand and encouraging support for it, both inside and outside a company.
As the communications leader, you’re the head coach overseeing the development, nurture and protection of your brand. Success begins with understanding it.
If your job to define the brand, communicate that brand to the rest of your team, motivate the rest of the team to stay on message, and get your congregation excited and aligned behind your church’s brand.