Yes, Your Church Has a Brand (Even if You Don't Want to Admit It)
Let me get something out of the way really quick: your church has a “brand” even if you don’t want to admit it (or hate the word).
Seriously. You do. Even if you hate marketing in the church, you have stilled “branded” yourself.
It’s impossible to avoid.
If you are Reformed, big John Calvin fans, that love talking about “the Gospel,” the “Sovereignty of God,” and preach often about the “Glory of God” and believe in expositional, verse-by-verse preaching, that is a particular brand.
If you are all about speaking in tongues, or playing the newest praise music, or playing only hymns, or having liturgy, or not having any form of liturgy, or sitting quiet in contemplation weekly, or using only the 1611 KJV Bible—all of these things “brand” your church.
You can call whatever you do “Biblical” and other forms “unbiblical.”
And guess what?
That’s a branding statement.
You are clearly saying, “We are ABOUT this and NOT about this.”
The way you interpret Scripture, the vocabulary you use, the theology you adhere to, no matter how sound it actually is, is also a branding statement about your church.
The reason I think many Christians cringe at this vocabulary is because it conjures up slick salesmen who are trying to sell you something. It makes one think, “Oh, we have to become a corporation and strip away everything important about our church.”
“We have to compromise.”
I don’t believe that is accurate at all.
I think your theology comes first, and then your branding. But no matter how hard you try you will have a “brand.” Here is a fact: other people will attempt to “brand” you unless you “brand” yourself.
What I try to emphasize to leaders as much as possible is this: lean into your weird.
How does your church “Make much of Jesus?” Is it homeless ministry? Is it your children’s ministry? Is it Gospel-centric preaching? Do you have a killer Sunday School or small group ministry? Is your church all about some incense? Lean into it. Own it. Mention it on your page. Tell others about it and say, “Yeah, we’re THAT church.”
That’s your brand.
In business, we talk about the “Blue Ocean Strategy,” where businesses in crowded marketplaces try to show what differentiates them from other competitors.
What makes your church weird? Own it. That’s your brand. That is what God has given to your church to use.
Now I’ve run into many pastors who respond, “My churches brand is God alone!”
I always respond, “That’s great! What does that mean practically for your church?”
And they ALWAYS give me an answer like, “Well, we do (or believe) X.”
And there it is. That is your branding “hinge-point”. You can’t escape it.
Because however you choose to serve, love, worship, honor, sing—that is your “brand.”
Once you realize that, you can start doing some really amazing things within your church culture as well. You can…
Build a shared understanding of your mission and vision.
Figure out what it would look like practically for your church to disciple someone with a clear plan.
Say “Heck yes” to what matters most and “Ummm, no” to what doesn’t.
Convey a consistent message across ALL your mediums (I’m thinking small groups, children’s ministry, youth group and more).
Write or pick curriculum more effectively by knowing what you already are all about
Strike a consistent tone in your communication (emails, newsletters, bulletins etc.)
Figure out budget allocation more quickly and effectively by figuring out what is MOST important to spend your money on.
Clearly convey to newcomers what they can and should expect when coming to your church and what they will NOT find.
These things matter. Branding helps with organization. It helps conducting things in an orderly and efficient manner.
I believe it brings glory to God.
And the quicker you lean into, refine and articulate what your brand already is, the quicker you can see improvements in these areas.
Because…administration, marketing, branding—these things matter. Not because they are substitutes for the Gospel or additions to the Gospel.
God DOESN’T need them to save others or to change lives. But He uses them. I would love to have a discussion with you about how my team and I can help you identify your brand and help with organization. Reach out to us here.