- 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
It’s fair to say that brochures and print materials are seldom read, but always evaluated. The same is true of your website. Bulletins are read more commonly, partly because of their focus on headlines, dates and bullet points--but also because people find lulls in the church service and use bulletins for mindless entertainment. To some degree, bulletins have cross-gender appeal. It’s a long-standing truism in marketing that men read headlines and women read the details. Now, this isn’t universally exact, but has been found to be common. A good brochure or printed piece will connect with both men and women—allowing headliners to get the basic information out and those who enjoy the details can get their fill in the body text.
All printed materials that you put out as a church form to create your church’s personality in printed form. If your printed materials are not consistent in style and quality, that’s what people will take away from your church, consciously or sub-consciously. If they are outdated, you’re telling people your church is outdated. On the other hand, these pieces might be telling people that you’re the “cool” church. This would work if you genuinely are the cool church, but if you’re not, that’s an awkward disconnect.
You can and should have contemporary materials that are relevant, creating a bridge between your style and values and those of your target audience. In doing this, design consistency, or branding, will become the catalyst to defining who you are and will enhance your ability to reach your target audience right from the start.
What are your print materials saying about you?
Have you ever noticed that the average designer looks like they are in the band? Ever notice the odd coincidence that so many music people also dabble in design? Ever wonder why? Let me play a few chords of the common bond between music and design... When a musician begins learning, let's say... guitar, he (or she) first learns how to play the notes, but then begins to learn on a higher level how different notes and sounds make up the songs that create his moods. He learns the chords that stir him up, wind him down, and make him wax melancholy.
The longer he plays guitar, the more he learns the characteristics of the sounds and is able to see the direct correlation between chord and emotion. He learns how to use his instrument to create whatever reaction he desires. He can make the audience laugh, cry, bang their heads or squeeze their lover's hand—all with the choice of notes and the combination and speed thereof. A great guitarist is someone who has mastered the elements of music and combines them like a mad scientist to create specific response. He does not merely play the guitar. He plays the audience.
How different is design? Instead of using the tools of notes and timing, designers use color and shape to instigate a response. In the same way, they combine elements time after time and begin to learn the responses they create in the hearts and minds of the viewer. This correlation between the musician and the designer is a simple bond... the study between creative inputs and human outputs. Great chefs, great comedians, great interior designers all have it—it is an innate drive to know an audience and bring elements together that would captivate them in some way.
The reason a guitarist often makes a good designer is that he/she has already strengthened their sense of deliberative mood setting. They bring the same root logic into a new medium and they are far ahead of those that are just starting to hone that gift. The challenge, as it is with musicians, is that they often only learn to play their songs for just one group of people. Sure, you know how to make a 20-year-old sing a worship song, but can you master the sounds of the 60-year-old's worship set? In the same way, many designers can only play design tunes that reach certain age groups. They are not masters of their craft, but yet masters of their target audience.
To the musician and designer: never stop studying the correlation between your elements and the response that follows it. At the same time, never stop expanding the reach of the notes you play. In doing so, you become all things to all men... reach them.
Does anyone remember parachute pants? They were this 1980's phenomenon (and I mean phenomenon) alongside leg warmers, Thriller, black lacquer furniture and Nagel prints (you get extra points for remembering those). It’s funny how things go in and out of style. Parachute pants are not-so-much in style anymore. That doesn’t mean that they won’t ever be popular again, but it does mean that if they do come back into style, they’ll always be referred to as “80s style.” Parachute pants aren’t the only things that go through that product cycle. In fact, if you’re more fashion forward, ten years from now, you’ll probably be looking back at what you’re wearing today and the same thing will go through your mind.
Amazingly enough, in the same way that clothes and decor become dated, so do fonts. We placed a number of over-used and dated fonts in the video to showcase this point. I’m sure many of you savvy designers out there immediately caught the Papyrus and Comic Sans. (It’s almost like our eyes are trained to identify it and point them out instantly). Well, fonts experience the same product life cycle that all style elements do—the early adoption period (where only the cool people use them), the market saturation period (when they are at the max of their popularity) and their popular decline (when we have all "been there" and "done that" and find ourselves moving on). In the video, we used a number of fonts that were dated in this way.
Same thing goes for the use of beveling with a drop shadow. This was on a banner or two in the video. It was a style that became extremely popular when Photoshop added it into the effects menu—go figure! It became very easy and therefore very overused for a season about ten years ago. If you’re sporting this look now, you probably don’t realize just how much you are tipping your hat to the style of the past. The viewer might not ever say anything, but subconsciously, many will put what you are showing them in the "out-dated" category.
Think you do not need to know this stuff if you’re a pastor? If you’re not going to know it, someone on your team needs to know it—and don't expect all designers to know these things either. The thing is, there are designers out there that don’t have enough background knowledge to keep from pulling out a font from last decade without knowing that it was a font from last decade. As a result, you end up being the church that is wearing leg warmers when no one else is wearing them. You don’t always have to be the cool kids, wearing the cool clothes—that might not be your church’s style. But it’s important to know what you’re telling people—you might be telling them you’ve lost track of your decades.
This goes back to wooing your target with your design. Only wear the parachute pants if you know they’ll get you the attention you want.
© Richard L. Reising
Here's a test. How many different versions of the logo did you see in the video? I'll give you a hint... It's more than five. Do you ever wonder why most churches have logos and design styles that vary in everything they do? In most cases I would suggest that it mirrors a lack of commitment to who they are as a church. Most churches are not consistent because deep down, they don't know who they are, whom they are called to reach, or how to reach them. When a church does, consistency becomes the natural outflow of our successful communication with those people.
To be brutally honest, those of us who have been in church for a while know what all the different styles and logos really represent--they stand for all of the volunteer graphic designers that have been burnt out along the way. :)
Design is not something to skimp on. When my wife and I were dating, I spent a lot of money on my haircut. She thought I had great hair and I admit I worked that angle as much as I could to woo her. After we got married and the demands of life overcame us, I resorted to buying clippers and cutting it myself late at night--partly because when we first started serving churches, it was financially tight and also because I was too strung out to ever make it to an appointment. A few years ago God convicted me about it. He reminded me that my wife loved my hair and that by no longer investing in it, I was devaluing her. My investment into my haircut was an investment into my relationship. Needless to say, I pay for my haircut now.
In the same way, great design is part of the courting process. It says, "I know who you are and I know who I am and I want to appeal to you." When you cheaply slap it together, you are literally devaluing the object of your pursuit. Furthermore, show me a church that looks to other popular churches for their design direction and I will show you a church that is short-changing its unique, God-given purpose for a random shot at quick-fix, imitation success. It would be like me getting a haircut to match some movie star in spite of it fitting my face or hair type. If these churches continue on this route for too long, they will come across as "the always changing church"--a.k.a. "the poser." To the outsider, the use of a barrage of differing design styles and varying standards leaves an impression--whether subconsciously or quite obviously--that your church suffers from real identity and resource issues.
The great irony about communications inconsistency is that even though you spent more time and money re-inventing yourself on every project, you actually come off looking cheaper. On the flip-side, when you really know who you are and whom you are called to reach, it shows. Consistency reflects deliberateness. Deliberateness is a value of confidence that draws people.
What's most amazing about the constant re-invention approach is that the churches that do it never stop to think about how rarely they ever see a truly strong organization creating such brand chaos. I mean, Eddie Bauer is still Eddie Bauer and Apple is Apple. I have never seen an ad that would cause me to confuse the two. Brands that know who they are and their resonating factors with their target audience maintain consistent design molds. Adapt over time? Yes! Constantly reinvent? No!
I beg you, as a church, it is time to figure out who God has called you both to be and to reach. Once you have, you are able to build an arsenal of consistent communication that connects the two together over time. Stop measuring yourself by the newest mailer that hits your doorstep--measure yourself by your ability to stay true to who God has called you to be in the midst of the world around you. You do not need a "cool" brochure or website, you need a strategic brand that grows with you as you grow.
© Richard L. Reising