Church Branding: True “Branding” Is More Than Skin Deep

| August 6, 2014

25168627_mIt seems like churches these days have seen the power of marketing and branding just enough to jump onto the bandwagon. Churches everywhere are sliding onto the re-branding table and looking for a quick-fix for their “growing” concerns. A few recent conversations have illustrated the missing link in a church’s preparedness to go under the knife for a branding makeover. True “branding” is more than skin deep.

True branding is the vital line from the core of who you are to the people God has called you to reach. It is a promise you deliver on in all that you do and is seen on the surface as your communication, design, image or brand.

A youth leader visited me one day almost in tears. He’d recently taken a position at a new church and, as what he (and much of the church world) thought was norm, decided to launch a new youth group brand. He built that brand around a new look, new logo, new name, and new everything. He developed the image of this great brand before he had built trust in his youth and momentum through his ability to connect with them and see growth. He then attempted to launch the brand with a huge event and watched it all to fall flat. The results were a disappointment for him and now his youth group is struggling and shell-shocked. He was heartbroken.

What this represents is surface re-branding. It’s an epidemic. It’s the concept that if we are not attracting people, it is because we do not have the right name or image, and therefore, we need to change it and re-design our look. With all the love I can muster, if you are not growing what you have, it is not because of your logo. If you are not connecting with people that come through your doors in a way that causes them to come back and bring others, no amount of design can create a long-term fix. If you do have momentum however, the right brand can be a catalyst to new levels of growth.

This isn’t taught in schools. I sat down with a doctoral student who interviewed me regarding his doctoral thesis on church brand development. His brilliantly written thesis had a fatal flaw—it omitted that re-branding should only take place after momentum has been generated. To simply re-brand a church when it has not found its traction is generally just an indication to your community that you’ve tried everything else without success and in your last attempt, you’re changing your style and/or name in order to reinvent yourself. Branding done right is not a “fix”. It’s a swagger. It is a well-communicated sense of self built on successfully connecting with others.

Here’s what you need to know about brand: if you aren’t currently connecting with people right where they are, no amount of branding or design can solve your problem. Design cannot obtain what a disconnected ministry cannot reach.

Category: Non-Profits

About the Author ()

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Karen McGagh is the President and founder of KCM PR, an award-winning public relations firm which offers public relations strategies for established companies, hospitals, non-profits and law firms as well as tech giants and start-ups. She attended the University of the Pacific, and was a feature and news writer for the Wall Street Journal before forming KCM PR.