Ten years ago, nobody was talking about churches and brands (or at least, nobody I knew). But that didn’t mean churches didn’t have brands, or that branding didn’t exist. It simply meant we didn’t have words to explain branding and why it mattered in the same way we do now.
Now, everybody is talking about churches and branding, and there are plenty of mixed feelings on the subject. Some say we shouldn’t have to “market God” while others explain that it’s not marketing God so much as it is doing our due diligence to make sure the love of Jesus is properly represented in our communities.
My take on the argument is this: It’s our responsibility to make sure our “brand” doesn’t get in the way of reaching others with God’s love and truth.
All churches have brands.
This is where we have to start in this conversation because some churches would argue that they don’t have a brand. And, if we were to use the old definition of a brand (a logo, design or wrapper) they might be right. But a “brand” as I would define it is simply the experience someone has of your church.
So, in other words, if someone who regularly attends your church were to tell their friends about it, honestly, what would they say?
Would they say, “Eh. It’s pretty boring, but my wife makes me go”?
Would they say, “I always feel welcomed, from the minute I walk in the door”?
Would they say, “I tried to go once, but I couldn’t find it”?
This is your brand, and this is why all churches have a brand. All churches are providing experiences for those who visit or try to visit.
And this is why some churches need a brand adjustment.
By brand adjustment, I don’t mean a new logo or fancier slides for your sermons, or a more expensive printout. I simply mean that most churches need to be continually working to provide a better experience for those who are involved in their church, and for those who could potentially be involved in their church.
Most churches need to do a better job of reflecting Jesus’ love and grace in the experiences they’re curating.
I might even venture to say all churches need to do this.
And because I believe this is the case, I would say: Most (if not all) churches need continual brand-adjustment.
What can you do to adjust your brand?
In order to know how your brand needs adjusting, you have to put yourself in the position of the “user”. This is hard, because you’re not the user. More than likely (if you’re reading this blog) you’re a pastor, a planner, or a behind-the-scenes person. But to really get a handle on your brand, you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
I know a young woman who used to work for a large coffee chain, and she told me they used to do something called a “go-see”. A “go-see” was when you, as the barista, would go to the front of the store and try to look at it through the customer’s eyes.
When you looked at it this way, you would see more ways you could improve customer experience.
Have you done something like this at your church lately?
What did you see?
If you were new to your church, what would you notice? Would you be able to find your way in from the parking lot to the front of the building? Would someone greet you at the door and say hello? Would you know where and how to drop your children off for class or in the nursery? Would you feel safe leaving them there?
Would you feel welcomed by the pastor and the sermon? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, or the answer is no, you might need a brand adjustment.
The good news is, you’re not alone.
Like I said above, most churches, if not all of them, need brand-adjustments. We’re all trying to live up to the experiences we’ve been called to create and curate, experiences that, we all pray, will draw others toward Jesus.