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A simple guide to branding for church

Maybe it should have been a question. “branding for church?” Isn’t branding for businesses, not  churches? The church is not a business! Right, I couldn’t agree more, the church is not a business, but it does have business to do!

I don’t mean to demean the church or turn it into something it shouldn’t be by talking about branding and marketing. Instead I want us to champion the church and it’s message. And that message is the most important one out there, the love of Jesus! It’s 100% ok to want to be excellent in how we communicate that message, and that is ALL we are talking about. 🙂

Guys, “branding” is not a dirty word. It’s just a way of talking about who an entity is and what it stands for. So what does this markety term branding have to do with being excellent in how we communicate the gospel? Bear with me for just a sec and let’s talk about what the word “brand” means.

If you are already familiar with branding, feel free to jump down to the bottom for the guide and brand template.

What does “brand” mean?

Brand is a marketing term that can be vague and confusing, so let’s break it down. 

A company’s name and logo are a part of their brand, but definitely not all of it! A brand is what sets one church or company apart from everyone else and includes a logo, color schemes, symbols, styles, emotions attitudes and even beliefs.

Think about a very popular brand. Let’s go really popular, like Nike. When you see that Nike swoosh, you automatically know it’s Nike, even without the company name. Not only do you know it’s Nike, you also start getting mental images of things like sports events, workout gear and gym equipment. All this from the mere site of a little swooshy symbol. From their famous logo, to the shoes and products they design, everything comes together to create their brand.

When it comes right down to it, a brand is that gut feeling or reaction you have when you encounter a particular business or yes, church!

Soooo, brandING is the process of forming your brand which helps to shape that gut feeling into what is hopefully, a positive experience.

What happens where there is no branding?

When there is no branding or no understanding of the church’s primary message and who it is directed to, outreach of any kind is going to be difficult. And even the existing church body will feel it. Why? Because, if you are unsure of your primary mission, your messages will be scattered and confusing to everyone. 

By message, I don’t mean, the message coming from the pastor each week. I’m talking events, outreaches, announcements, social media posts…basically, your communication efforts. 

ALSO, if you don’t know who you are speaking to (your audience) you won’t know how to speak to them. When I talk to my son, it’s a lot different than when I’m talking to a close friend. It’s all about context!

Let’s look at an example of a confusing message. Imagine we have a church with a river icon as its primary logo but the logo for the youth group created a few years back is using a tree icon for its logo. The children’s ministry has yet another logo and now Bob wants a new and distinct logo created for small groups. When a visitor walks in the door, they will now see four different symbols on your signs and printed materials! 

This is a recipe visual disaster because it’s confusing and become an obstacle to people remembering your church. We want to present the church in a beautiful and orderly way that makes sense! 

I know, as a volunteer or team member in ministry, the last thing you ever want to do is cause people confusion and create obstacles. Life is busy and hard enough!

The benefits of branding for churches

The process of branding involves identifying the message you want to send and the people you are called to reach.

 This will provide clear direction for communicating, because everything you send out will reflect the message you’ve identified. This also makes deciding what kinds of things to say “yes” and “no” to, much easier because you will have a clear picture of what you’re here to do. Soooo, less distractions! 

The process alone often proves to be very valuable because it is, essentially, a church assessment!

The process of branding for church (a guide)

Below are steps you can take to pull together a cohesive brand for your church.

1. Talk to leadership

To put together a brand that makes sense for your church you’ll need the go ahead from leadership. Talk to them about your heart for presenting a clear message through branding.  Ask about his or her heart for the church and the vision God has given them for the future. And get it all down on paper!

2. Assessment

The following questions will give you insight into where your church is right now and a better understanding of who you serve.

      • What is our church’s mission and vision?
        Find out your church’s mission and/or vision statement. If you don’t have one, find any overarching statements your church has written down or posted on your website. If your church has a scripture that is used over and over to represent its mission, you could make note of that too.

      • What are our church’s values?
        What does your church value the most? There may be several different values such as, authenticity, bible-based teaching and real worship.

      • What is your church good at?
        Do you have an excellent discipleship or outreach program, or is connection and small groups your thing?

      • What makes our church unique?
        What things do you already know about your church that make it unique?
        Try to be very specific. Do you meet in a unique location or have a special outreach that sets you apart?

      • Who are we serving?
        Your mission field is most likely in a 5-10 mile radius of your church. Who you are serving will greatly impact how you develop your brand. If you want to speak their language, you will need to know who they are.
        – Where are you located physically?
        – What kind of neighborhood is it?
        – What are their biggest needs?
        – What is the median age and income?
        – What are their interests?

    3. Consult a designer (for teams without one)

    If you have an eye for design or are a designer yourself and are putting together the church branding guidelines you will be able to choose typography, colors and photography based on the information you have gathered. 

    If this seems like too much DIY,  you can work with a graphic designer or someone you know and trust who has a knack for it.

    Give them all the information  you have gathered. Share this brand checklist with them so they know what you are expecting.

    4. Put it all together in A DOCUMENT

    Your church brand guidelines are essentially a document outlining your messaging, values and how and when to use your logo, colors and typography.

    It’s time to put together all the information you have gathered! Search brand templates to find one that will work for you or use the one I’ve created for churches below. 

    Now your messaging, colors, styles and typography will be all in one place and readily available to reference for your church’s leadership team.

    If the title “Branding for Church” sounds cold or makes you want to cringe, just know that branding is simply a word that means getting organized and clear about our message. Ultimately, it’s just a tool like any other to help us reach people with the love of Jesus!

    God bless you in your ministry!

    sermon graphics

    Brand & Identity Template for your church

    EXAMPLE Process

    Church mission statement: To glorify God by making disciples

    Values: unashamed worship, unapologetic teaching, unceasing prayer, unafraid witness, unconditional service

    Take away: Right away we know this church really values worship and community, and they are bold! Now we can extend these values out visually. Moving forward in the branding process, we might choose an aesthetic that reflects these attitudes. Bold colors, strong fonts and energetic photography would serve this church’s mission statement and values well.

    Don’t forget to download the free Brand & Identity Template I put together for church below!

    TIP FOR CHURCHES: Canva is an online, free-to-use design tool. There is also a premium version of Canva for purchase, but non-profits can apply here for full and free access.

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    I'm Meridith

    A mom and wife based in Arizona. I love good design and have worked in small churches for lots of years. Now I’m sharing my collection of sermon graphics and some things I’ve learned along the way.

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