Branding and Marketing:
Too Corporate-y?

Joe R. Vasquez
 Principal Designer

I have had this conversation with senior leadership in various churches who either believe that the “church” needs to be treated ‘differently’ in the sense of branding or marketing, or that when it comes to employing corporate concepts into the church that it needs to be decaffeinated of all ‘for-profit’ ideas so there will be no overturned tables in the church. I am really not sure what either of these approaches to branding and marketing within the church even mean? Nevertheless, lets approach these ideas from a different perspective.

When it comes to the weekend, you would have to admit that the message is a critical piece of the weekend, correct?

  • I know, worship is important.
  • Community is important.
  • Prayer is important.

However, the unique element about each weekend service is the compelling message that you are ‘communicating.’ You have worked hard on this message and the series that follows-on as a teacher. People come to hear your voice and like what they hear, only when you tell it. The scripture you choose, the way you say it, the points you make – are all equally important among many more that will leave people either wanting more or leaving your church for another. Communication is the key element that you are employing in serving up your message for the weekend.

Branding and marketing are all a part of the communication devices that make up the organization.

Wait, Joe, we don’t participate in those elements, we are a church!

Lets see if you do or not:

  • Do you have a website?
  • Do you have a sign in front of your church?
  • Do you have a logo?
  • Do you have a tag-line?
  • Do you have a vision/mission statement?

If you have answered “yes” to one or more of the questions above, then you have established a brand of sorts in your organization…and, thats not a bad thing!

You’re beautiful vanilla church sign.

You have decided somewhere along the line that you needed to share your organizations unique identity, vision and values with your current audience as well as those you wish to connect with somewhere out there. You wanted to set yourself apart from the other churches down the street and again, this is not a bad thing at all.

Do you remember going into Old Navy at the mall and walking in and seeing the ‘dog in the truck’ display at the front door? Initially, it was kind of cute when you walked in and the kids were kind of intrigued by it. After a while, it became something that actually got in the way of you finding what you were actually looking for. Finally, it became something that you didn’t give any thought to that you simply walked around it without knowing it.

Imagine that being your church on the corner. Initially it had its own uniqueness that created and added value to the community and people were drawn to getting together there and walking away feeling inspired. But now, its a directional element in the sense of, “…go past the old church with the brick-sign in the front and take a left…” Wow, left behind.

Who, then, is my competition…if there is such a thing in the church world??

Here is how to get back on top. First admit that the competition for your audience is fierce, never-ending and always pointed away from your church. Also, that competition is not the other churches in the area. Having a kingdom mindset includes you cheering the church down the road that has increasing growth in their membership. (It would be wise to see what they are doing…)

Who, then, is my competition…if there is such a thing in the church world?? Simply put…anything else on Sunday morning (or whenever your convenient services are.) Think about it, Tv, the mountains, the beach, breakfast, sleeping in, camping, reading the paper/internet, Facebook (or any other social media), etc…you get the point. There have been plenty of Sundays where I will want to check out ABC church services online and the next thing you know, I am watching CrossFit on Youtube.

Your competition…is anything else.

Now let me paint you a picture another way. You’re in New York for a visit and you want to go visit the Statue of Liberty (who wouldn’t?) You have to hail a cab and get from here to there, right? When you step out on to the street you will see and endless sea of yellow cabs out there.

They all look the same, they all do the same thing. They pick you up and take you from here to there. You flag one down, you get in and after a while you arrive at your destination with the next thing on your mind: the Statue of Liberty.  Of course your asking the same questions we all ask…

What’s that smell?

How much is this going to cost?

I can’t understand my driver?

Why are we going so fast?

Is this the right way?

Why is my seat wet?

Are you talking to me? Are YOU talking to me? 😉

Wait…the cab, it was ordinary and average. Will that come up again in your mind after that ride or will it just fade away as just a moment in time. See where I am going? But what if, something else happened instead?

Imagine a that a yellow Delorean dressed up like the ‘Back to Future’ car came along side you at the street level and asked where you wanted to go…and it flew you there? You wouldn’t want the ride to be over with nor would this ‘cab ride’ be average and boring, would it? Actually the Statue of Liberty would take second or third in the stories you tell over and over again about your trip to New York.

Isn’t that the experience we want to give our audience? We have just one chance to tell the story and we have a choice – do we want to give them clipart or do we want to show that the Creator has given his people creativity in telling the story? Are you another yellow taxi just getting people from here to there or do you want to give them an experience of God that extends beyond Sunday morning but into the next weeks conversation for you visitors, members and community? Isn’t that what we want for our members and visitors? To be talking about what happened on that one Sunday morning and how I can’t wait to go back there again.

I’m on a mission to rid the world of bad and boring design for churches.

I am expert in helping churches see things from the audience perspective. Visual design is just one of the areas of expertise – ask me about branding, marketing and messaging. My mission and purpose is strong on point.

How’s your mission going?

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