- Praise God
- Please be praying...
- What Every Church Needs to Know about Marketing: Final Thoughts: If you don't pass the people test, nothing else matters
- What Every Church Needs to Know about Marketing: Part 3: Marketing is about People
- What Every Church Needs To Know about Marketing: Part 2: Marketing is Everything
- Getting Your Current Members to Invite Friends
- Through the eyes of a visitor
- Encouraging progress
- Please be praying
- Bootstrap Faith
- Know Our Hearts?
- Seldom Read But Always Evaluated
- Creating an Experience
- The Bond Between Music and Design
- The Church Exposed
- The Value Principle
- The Nike Effect: Part II
- The Nike Effect: Part I
- Starting New This New Year
- Christmas Revelation from Charlie Brown
- The Video: Speaking Starbucksian
- And The Winners Are...
- The Video: A Treasure Hunt
- The Video: We're Not Like That Church Down The Street
- The Video: Signs of Neediness
- The Video: Death to Papyrus and Comic Sans!
- The Video: Inconsistent Artwork
- A Thanksgiving Thought
- The Video: The Culture Crime
- The Video: Reserved for Barista
- The Video: Real Men Love Java
- The Video: Marketing is more than you realize
- The Video: The purpose of the video.
- What If Starbucks Marketed Like the Church? A Parable.
- re-Branding on Momentum
Brand name overload
Its funny how churches who start to get the power of naming easily get carried away with it. What I am challenging here is not so much that you named your church "The Journey" and that your style is somewhat laid back and cool. That's potentially ok. Its what happens when every department in the church wants to do the same thing and asks the church to plaster their logo and brand name everywhere and no one is willing to tell them "no".
So we walk in your church and you have gone above and beyond and given me great signage that tells me where everything is. Good right? This is how it reads...
Go ahead... Read it fully like a visitor...
The church-savvy ones of you have deciphered the secret code language into the following...
Which of these signs helps a visitor the most?
This is all about context. When you are in the main church context, what matters to the guest is the category of things you offer, not the kitschy brand name that has no meaning to us.
When are you in the main church's context? On it's website, on its stage, inside the foyer, on it's signage and it's printed materials to start. Someone from the church has to stand up and stop the confusion--or at least categorize it. We're all fine with: "Our Youth Ministry: The Tribe". You just can't use it in the main church context without telling us what it is. Calling it "The Tribe" without categorizing it makes newbies feel like outsiders--like someone did not include them in your secret name game.
If you are a youth group, we're fine with you calling it "The Tribe". Just know that it is your job to build the Tribe brand through your students and through your own website. It gives the kids ownership. It helps them tell their friends. That's all good. Please just don't ask the church to promote "The Tribe". They should simply promote the youth ministry or youth group. Visitors just need to know you have something for their teens. The fact that you call it "The Tribe", does not add to the sell for me as a parent.
Same thing goes for the coffee shop and the book store. Have a name if you want, but please don't let your brand name get in the way. Just guide us to the coffee shop. Do you really think your bookstore's name will increase my desire to check it out? "Ooo. Wow. Their bookstore is called 'Living Stones'--I can't wait to check it out!" "Look honey, their coffee shop is called "Holy Grounds", we have to experience that!" If you are unaware, I am being a bit sarcastic.
This is what it can unknowingly come across like to a visitor...
Welcome to Journey... on your bulletin you will find a list of 32 code names to guess what ministry they belong to. We are so introverted and proud of our cool names we can hardly stand it. We doubt you will. : )
Here's the deal. A church is not graded by how many clever brand names can be traced back to it. I think there needs to be a communications police that gives a citation to churches with signs like Exhibit A. Know anyone who needs to get a citizen's arrest?
Thinking its about us
If we are firmly following Christ, it is not about us anymore. It is not about what we like. It is not about our style and our preferences. As church leaders it is not about having our pretty face on a billboard or a website. It is not about us. The colors we like do not matter. It is not about us. It is about the object of our affection; and the way we do church reveals the object of our affection. God? Certainly. Others? Definitely. Us? Not so much.
I'm not the only one who has this crazy thought. Jesus asked a question that struck a cord... "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?" Most of us see that as a lovely plea to reach a lost sheep. But what about the 99 other sheep? Who were they? They were us. Jesus clearly advocated leaving the sheep (us church folk)--howbeit in a safe place--but His focus was not on them. His focus was on finding the lost one.
When we make decisions about sermons, design, style, decor, etc... who are we making them for? For ourselves as church leaders (based on our personal likes and dislikes)? For the flock (the loyal followers)? or for the lost ones. Which one do you think Jesus would be focused on? No doubt He always protects the flock--but He also always pursues the lost. Lord, help us as wise shepherds to tend to the flock, without losing focus on the object of your pursuit and affection. Help us to see through the eyes of lost sheep.
Brand-building without success
Church start-ups aside, one of the biggest challenges I run into on the road is a church that undergoes a re-branding in order to create momentum that does not already exist. The downfall of this effort is that to most churches, rebranding is a packaging concept. It never affects the core. If you repackage something that was not growing in a healthy way, the recipients of your message might be attracted at first, but the draw will not last. As well, your community can see through an attempt to modernize that is inconsistent with true change. If you want to re-brand, build real momentum first. Re-brand from the core out. The only way you can do that is learning how to organically connect with people and grow without an ounce of packaging. If you are not seeing success in organic growth, it means you have not mastered connecting with new people--an indication that your radar is off and you would not likely re-brand properly anyway.
Biblical thought: "...For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones." Matthew 23:27. Jesus shared this charge with religious leaders. As churches, we exist to give off His life. The number one way to increase your real attractiveness is to connect people to Christ in a life-changing way. When this becomes your core, your brand becomes a relevant bond between who you are and those you are called to reach.
For more on this topic, check out this post...