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Learn more about my journey in church and marketing.
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BEYOND RELEVANCE MUSINGS ON CHURCH, STRATEGY, AND CULTURE

BY RICHARD REISING

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Nov 06

re-Branding on Momentum

Nov 06
Nov 06

It seems like churches these days have seen the power of marketing and branding just enough to jump onto the band wagon. 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 often missing link in a church's preparedness to go under the knife for a branding make-over.

Now, before I get into this, please note that true "branding" goes much deeper than skin deep. True branding is a plum-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. With that said...

I was teaching a session on branding last week at the National Youth Workers Convention. I normally speak to senior pastors, so I jumped at the chance to hang out with youth leaders for a few days. It was a blast. I was challenging on the need for churches to become successful without a branding effort and that the best brands are those that learn how to connect to people and grow organically first—and then build their brand around that. A youth leader visited me afterwards almost in tears. He had 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, 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 is an epidemic. It is 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 stuff is not taught in schools. In February, I sat down with a doctoral student at Dallas Theological Seminary 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 is a swagger. It is a well-communicated sense of self built on successfully connecting with others.

Here’s the deal: if you aren’t currently connecting with people right where they’re at, no amount of branding/design can solve your problem. Re-branding without momentum is kind of like dressing up for your prom and forgetting to court a date. Think about it.
 
Design cannot obtain what a disconnected ministry cannot reach.

© Richard L. Reising

8 comments

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Jon

Wow!!!! That is what I needed when I needed it. I love change! I have been frustrated with some things so I have put my energy into the branding inside instead of on the build momentum with the people side. Thanks for the kick to the seat of the pants!

Posted on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 @ 10:19 AM CST

Dave

Excellent insight! I think most pastors really want to grow their church for the right reasons - but in that passionate pursuit often use promotional techniques that end up having them make promises that they can't deliver. Been there - done that.

Posted on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 @ 1:59 PM CST

Brian Klassen

I find it amazing that so many individuals fall into the trap of pretending I/we are something that we are not. Since you are talking about REbranding and using the term as an opportunity to reflect who you are via design and communications, my simple advice would be to only change (rebrand) when you are truly no longer reflecting who you are. Honesty while communicating your brand is not only the best policy, it's the only policy for building and strengthening what God has gifted you with. Live it then tell it.

Posted on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 @ 3:14 PM CST

Richard Reising

Thanks so much for the comments everyone! Glad you've checked out the blog.

God Bless!

Richard

Posted on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 @ 5:05 PM CST

Mark Venton

Richard - I hope God blesses you in this effort, I firmly believe that marketing can be a useful tool if done the right way. Thank you for efforts!! To me the most important points in a marketing plan are the first time a person encounters you message and the first time they experience your "product". If these two moments are not completely aligned then you have not only lost a potential new brother/sister, but you have also had a hit to your church's integrity which is hard to restore. My experience (from consumer marketing) would say that momentum is helpful but not critical if your 1st and 2nd moments of experience are completely aligned. Also remember that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool - make sure what you members say to others about your church lines up with what you are saying in other marketing. The great news is that the Holy Spirit is a great enabler even if you think you message is not as break through as you would have liked.

Posted on Mon, Nov 17, 2008 @ 3:38 PM CST

Sam Warren

This article is a confirmation of what I have experienced as a church consultant. When I go into a church that is floundering and work with them strategically, they usually are wanting to be something that they are not but want to be and for some specific reasons cannot be. There is little or no commitment to a new way. BUT, when I work with people who are already dreaming of and moving toward a new way in terms of what God is doing in them and among them, it's an entirely new experince. They are engergetic, excited and motivated toward being what they are already becoming as God works among them. Thanks for the thoughts presented in this article!

Posted on Tue, Jun 1, 2010 @ 11:08 AM CST

Tony

Very insightful. Very candid. Thank you for your post.

Posted on Sat, Jul 3, 2010 @ 7:06 PM CST

Mack

I think some of you are still kinda missing it by confusing marketing with advertising. Marketing isn't just a useful tool. Advertising is a tool. Marketing is what you're doing 24/7!

When you're up preaching, you're marketing. When you're leaving church, cutting people off in traffic, you're marketing. When you're at your job, riding the clock because the boss ain't around...you're marketing! Everything you do as an individual is marketing both for your church, and for Jesus. And this goes extra for those in active ministry positions.

Posted on Sat, Jul 31, 2010 @ 10:15 AM CST

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