Branding isn’t only for the secular world. You need it now, and you need it more than ever.
Have you ever wondered why some Catholic churches are busting at the seams and some, well, aren’t? You’re not going to find the answer in big personalities, the music, or unique, albeit potentially misguided, amenities.
The answer is simple: Branding.
But the execution is an area where some churches, schools and ministries need a little extra guidance. So what can branding do for your church?
Almost everyone can identify Nike, L.L.Bean and Apple by their logo and what they promise their customers. We can learn from companies like them on how to create a brand identity and how to foster an emotional connection with their brand.
Branding has two components: visual and experiential.
Visual branding is how you establish a brand through logos, colors and fonts. Think of the companies mentioned above and I’m sure you can easily conjure the image of their logos in your mind.
Experiential branding, also referred to as the Branded Experience, is the promise you are making to your constituents about how you are going to deliver on your promise.
L.L.Bean’s customer promise is to supply high quality products and services. They are willing to stand behind this no matter what, and it’s clearly expressed in their advertising. When you visit their stores, every interaction with their employees is charitable and reinforces their commitment to quality.
Now think of your church, school or ministry and the constituents you serve. Are you easily and consistently identified by a logo or image throughout your entire church and every ministry? Are the colors and fonts you use in your letters, print materials and on your website the same?
Visual branding takes time and you should take advantage of every opportunity you have to use your images, logos and colors when interacting with those you are serving to project a unified community.
Branding in action
Suzie Fazzini, the Communications Coordinator at St. Joseph’s Church in Lake Orion, MI, spent 5 months last year going through the branding process with eCatholic. This included identifying their logo, colors, fonts, tagline, and propagating these changes throughout a custom designed website and subsequently their printed materials.
It builds trust. A consistent look helps build a presence so they know it’s you.– Suzie Fazzini, St. Joseph’s Church – Lake Orion, MI.
By using the logo and colors in creative ways, like t-shirts, this helped to bring their community together.
“It gave parishioners a way to show they ‘belong’ to St. Joseph’s,” Suzie continued.
After a year with the new branded logo and colors, among the many benefits they experienced was a 200% increase in pledges on the first day of their Catholic Services Appeal.
Luke Stowe, the project manager for the branding project at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Libertyville, IL, expressed similar sentiments.
Going into the website branding project, we didn’t have a branding strategy, colors or logo. But going through the process [with eCatholic] gave us a chance to step back and think about our branding and communications. This project was a catalyst for our branding work.– Luke Stowe, St. Joseph’s Church – Libertyville, IL
Within the last year, their visual branding efforts can be seen everywhere in their community from their website, bulletins, the parish school and throughout their social media outlets. “Branding has given us an identity,” Luke stated.
Visual branding cannot be done alone to create and foster your brand. Logos, images and colors on their own will not create an emotional connection. The emotional connection to your church, school or ministry happens over time with each and every interaction your constituents have with you.
What is your promise to your parishioners, parents and students? How are you delivering on that promise? Is everyone on board with delivering this promise and doing it consistently?
During the branding process with eCatholic, Suzie and others at St. Joseph’s discovered they were not delivering on their promise to be welcoming to each and every person that came to their church. Shocked that this was what a newcomer’s experience was like, they installed a mobile welcome desk and have it staffed with volunteers at every mass each weekend, realizing that it was better to meet the needs of their parish when it was convenient for the parishioners and newcomers and not just during regular business office hours during the week.
Susie shared that the branding process “helped us identify the heart of who we are as a church” and now others know what the experience at St. Joseph’s in Lake Orion will be like and can be a part of it too.
By branding your church, school or ministry, you are helping those that are new to understand what you are about and how they would fit into your community. Branding also allows those that have been a part of your community a way to connect with you and each other and to help evangelize.
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