Recently someone tweeted “Branding is for products. Also for Cattle. People aren’t products.” and implied that a church (of people) shouldn’t brand themselves but instead be “wild, weird, and ever-changing”.
Is the church (known for being sinners saved by grace) too imperfect to brand themselves perfectly?
The false premise to this question is that a brand shows perfection. I assume that’s because the appearance of a successful brand shows control of visual elements and message. Perhaps this controlled brand has the appearance of doing everything correctly. With perfection.
But the truth of branding? It’s creating and controlling a brand story or brand promise with a visual identity that reminds people of the beneficial thread that’s truly the brand. Does it require doing things with excellence and continuity? Yes. But that doesn’t mean a well-branded church will look like they only have perfect people.
In fact, a well-branded church needs to have an underlying understanding that we’re authentic. Real with struggles. And ultimately, that imperfection points to the truth that we need a Savior.
So how does a church brand effectively communicate as an imperfect group?
- Acknowledge sin. Brands understand that they bring a benefit to their audiences. In order to emphasize this, a church needs to remind their audience of our need. Therefore we need to be pain experts. In the way that Jesus talked of our flaws and sinful nature, we need to authentically communicate that we understand the battle. If we come across as a church who’s got our act together and have overcome the draw of sin, we do a disservice to our audience.
- Show flaws. We must tell stories of our flaws and brokenness that we battle daily. When we mess up? We acknowledge it as a way to be transparent and authentic. We’re NOT perfect; but we know Someone who is. Our message of the Savior requires us to demonstrate our imperfection.
- Be consistent. Building a brand is about being consistent. And our consistency must build a regularly-used visual standard that points to our inconsistency, transparency, and sinfulness. That regular use allows our church to become known for it. So our communities can relate to our need for a Savior.
Church branding is a balance. The moment that our brands drop the authentic side of being a Christ Follower with the roller coaster struggle we all face in that journey, we must take a hard look at our branding and adjust it. Let’s create effective church branding that demonstrates our imperfection!