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Jun 17

Top 10 church communicator's mistakes: #8

Jun 17
Jun 17

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...
Exhibit A
Exhibit A

The church-savvy ones of you have deciphered the secret code language into the following...

Exhibit B

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?


« back

Eric Seiberling


The over-proliferation of brands inside a church is a problem that corporations face as well. I have consulted with a number of "shared service organizations" who want to have their own brand identity which may or may not fit within the bigger picture.

I think we get caught up in creating new identities because we want to belong to a "tribe" with our own culture, look & identity, and create "verbal shortcuts" to explain bigger concepts.

We always need to step back and think about the intended audience and look their their point of view in our communications.

Church Signage = Visitors
Youth Group Website = Youth
Coffee Shop = Under-caffeinated individuals (so please keep it mono-syllabic)

Then we can judge the appropriate way to talk about it.

Nice article!

Posted on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 @ 7:52 AM CST

Dawn Bryant (@simplydawnb)

I love it! Know your audience!! All too often we're obsessed with creativity and forget about functionality. After all, guests will come and stay when they feel comfortable. Leaving them trying to decipher a secret code will seldom leave them feeling at ease. Thanks for calling it out!

Posted on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 @ 9:08 AM CST


If you had a church, I would go there. I grew up in church and finally had to take a break from it and the politics after being on leadership for our young adults group. (I can't even remember The Name ten years later!) The last time I went to church it had been years since my last visit. I could not get over how weird everything was even to me who had grown up in that environment.

I had grown up in that particular church and had no idea what half the announcements meant. I just sat there and wondered how foreign it would be for someone who had no church background. Mostly I was sad at how irrelevant the church had become even to me. Christ is always relevant. People just want to be loved, you don’t need to dress like them or talk like them to do that.

Thanks for what you are trying to do!

Posted on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 @ 9:16 PM CST


I've really enjoyed the top 10, 9 & 8, but will we see the top 7 any time soon?

Posted on Tue, Sep 28, 2010 @ 11:38 AM CST

Mel @ Trailing After God

I wanted to share THIS article but your site doesn't allow that, it wants to share the ENTIRE blog or the most recent post. You have some great advice but you are really limiting who gets to see it when your readers can't share it. We just recently spent 2 years looking for a new church. This is one thing we found over and over again. NO signage at all and then code words and NO idea where to go. Our personalities aren't to try to find someone to ask. I wonder how many just like us end up feeling and looking stupid as we try to figure out where our kids are supposed to go and then where we are to be. There needs to be a balance between catering to church members and guests.

Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

Posted on Sat, Apr 16, 2011 @ 2:43 PM CST


What Mel said about linking... you don't make it easy :(

Although, if anyone want to know how: click the link to view comments, that will take you to a permalink for the post. For this post it is:


Posted on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 @ 2:45 PM CST

Richard Reising

Thanks guys. New and better blog coming soon.


Posted on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 @ 4:19 PM CST

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