Six Lies About Logos

article-2242722-1657FE04000005DC-339_634x474

Okay, “lies” might be a bit extreme, but it’s true they’re often misunderstood or misperceptions.

When done right, brand identities can be an instant way to communicate the vision, values, and what someone can expect at your church or ministry. They can break down barriers, pave the way to connect new people, and focus your culture. When done wrong, it can reflect an inaccurate image, create divisions, or even be misleading.

So without further ado, let’s cover six of  the most common misperceptions ministries have about brand identities.

Lie #1 : Identities Don’t Matter Much

Brands, logos, and marketing are basically all just fluff anyway, right? Wrong. We live in a visual culture and how we communicate matters. People form impressions about who we are and what we do based on how we communicate. Having an identity that accurately reflects the heart, vision, and culture of your church can go a long way in reaching people and overcoming misperceptions.

But before you start sketching up ideas, be clear about what you want to communicate, and who you’re communicating to.

Your identity is a channel for connecting people to your vision and needs to be viewed with a strategic lens.

It’s less about which color or font you like best, but what these things say to the people you’re trying to reach.

Lie #2 : It’s Critical to be Literal

I mean, how will anyone know this is a church if we don’t include a cross, dove, and a picture of the building? And of course we can’t forget adding a globe to reflect our heart for missions… Stop it. Just stop it. Your church is more than your building.

The best marks are the ones that allow room for you to fill it with meaning and point people back to the vision.

Embrace simplicity and create conversations, remembering the identity will always be delivered in context. If the logo is on your business card, chances are you’re handing it to someone. The sign on your building? People are on the campus. Your website? There are lots of opportunities to tell the rest of the story. The Nike swoosh is one of the most recognized identities on the planet and it’s not a picture of a pair of shoes.

Lie #3 : Copying is Okay

If we just copy what another church created, it’s not a big deal, right? What they’re doing seems to be working, so it’ll probably work for us, too, right?

Don’t get me wrong—it’s okay to be inspired by others. But when inspiration stops short and becomes imitation, you’re robbing your church of the unique identity God intended for your ministry. Invest the time to make the ideas that inspired you your own.

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 11.01.05 AM

Lie #4 : The More the Merrier

Some churches may think an identity isn’t important at all, and then there are others infected with logo-itis. It almost feels like Oprah showed up one day and stared handing them out. “YOU get a logo, and YOU get a logo…”

Unfortunately, when every ministry has its own identity, it splinters the collective identity of the church.

Worse yet, we’re setting these ministries up to compete with each other for the congregation’s attention. When everyone has their own look, feel, and voice within the same church, it runs the risk of brand schizophrenia.

There’s enough already trying to compete for people’s attention—the last thing we want to do is compete with ourselves.

A simple rule of thumb that’s worked for many churches is to draw a clean line in the sand: If a ministry has its own weekend worship service, it’s okay to have its own logo because they’re serving a distinct audience with distinct needs. (For example, Children & Students = Yes. Ministries such as Men’s, Women’s, and Redheaded Knitters Named Marge = No.)

Just remember to include your church’s primary logo on any mailings or communication tools these ministries use so everyone is clear your student ministry is still part of the church and not an island unto themselves.

Lie #5 : Rollouts Can Be Random

It’s painful to think about, but there are ministries large and small that have invested a ton of time, energy, and resources into creating a new identity but then completely dropped the ball when it came to introducing their bouncing new baby brand to the world.

One pastor thought if he just started casually mentioning the new name during his weekend messages, people would somehow subconsciously get used to it and be more open to the change. Another very large church thought it’d be okay to just start using the new logo on envelopes containing year-end giving statements before the new website (or anything else) was ready because, “It was just sitting there not being being used.” The congregation had no idea a change was even on the horizon in both cases.

When something as visible as your identity changes, there’s a powerful opportunity to cast vision and celebrate stories.

Don’t let it slip by. Take time to think about when the best time might be to roll out your new identity, how it might align with other opportunities, and above all, tell people WHY it matters.

Lie #6 : A New Brand Will Fix It

This happens a lot—Attendance is flat or has started to decline, the church wants to do a better job of reaching younger (or different) people than they’re currently reaching, the people in the pews aren’t as friendly as they should be, or perceptions need to be shifted to emphasize a focus on serving.

The solution? Maybe creating a new identity that feels more hip, diverse, friendly, outward-focused, or fill-in-the-blank will magically fix these problems and change who they are on the inside as well. Ah, if it were only that simple.

It’s true that a new brand identity can go a long way in recharging the batteries of a ministry, but ultimately changes need to happen on the inside as well for it to be effective. (And authentic)

 

Does this make sense? What misperceptions have you run in to?

Are We Who We Say We Are?

FullSizeRender
The whole idea of branding can be confusing for a lot of smart people. And it’s easy to see why with all of the different definitions floating around—is it what other people say you are? Is it your logo? Or the website & other promotional channels?

The simplest way to wrap our minds around this is to think of it as a promise we’re making of what to expect, and how well we consistently deliver on that promise.

This all comes down to the EXPERIENCE we’re offering. Are we who we say we are?

When we think of it as a promise, we’re in control—we manage the expectations and experience of that promise. If we allow others to define who we are, we’re constantly in a reaction mode.

This goes beyond what we say in bulletins, brochures, & billboards to what we actually do.

Everything else is just a channel for delivering on that promise.

Last Chance to Get In

e-mail-header-group1

I’m a huge fan of learning from others. Especially when they’re people who walk the talk & have a great track record.

If you somehow missed the new online conference everyone’s talking about, there’s still a tiny bit of time to sign up. Registration closes tonight at midnight CDT.

The roster of folks sharing what they’ve learned in the trenches is pretty amazing. Here’s just a few:

  • Jon Ferguson — Lead Teaching Pastor, Community Christian Church
  • Darrel Girardier — Creative Director, Brentwood Baptist Church
  • Casey Graham — CEO & Founder, The Rocket Company
  • Jay Kranda — Online Campus Pastor, Saddleback Church
  • Scott McClellan — Communications Pastor, Irving Bible Church (Former editor of COLLIDE Magazine & director of Echo Conference)
  • Carlos Whittaker — Author & Church Communications Specialist
  • Tim Schraeder — Social media ninja, led campaigns for Hillsong United
  • Blaine Hogan — Creative Director, Willow Creek Community Church
  • Haley Veturis — Social Media Artisan, Saddleback Church
  • Emily Cummins — Associate Director of Communications & Branding, Central Christian Chuch
  • Mark Clement — Founder & CEO, Big Picture Media Group
  • Jason Inman — Content Developer, LifeChurch.tv
  • (I’m talking about the Keys to Communicating Change)

** A couple of things to note **

1) All of the talks are TED-style… 10 mins or less of the best stuff

2) Speakers will be chatting live & answering questions w/participants DURING their talks

3) If your schedule on Wednesday is looking a little hairy, the talks will be available again after the event for participants so you can watch them later

4) A private Facebook group has been set up for participants. Folks are already connecting & learning from each other

5) They’re including a bonus Facebook Ads Training (Which apparently I could use, as I’ve been rejected 3x so far–Thankfully I’m not talking about that)

I’m really excited to see how this event turns out. If you’re thinking about jumping on board, I’d recommend it.

Ps: Did I mention registration ends tonight at midnight?

The Price of Free


Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.29.47 PM

It can be tempting to chase after “free” opportunities

  • A volunteer is willing to start a new ministry idea
  • An organization is offering to sponsor an initiative on your behalf
  • Someone is willing to include your ad on their website, magazine or newsletter
  • A partner wants to send a summer intern/assistant/extra-hands-and-feet-to-do-work-for-you

Sounds great, right? I mean, who doesn’t like free?

Before jumping on board, remember everything has a price. Sometimes it’s actual, physical dollars & cents. Other times it’s time. Or relationships. Or how much it impacts your brand or reputation.

So be sure to ask first:

  • Is the timing right for this opportunity?
  • What will it really cost?
  • Will it ultimately help accomplish what we’re supposed to do?

“So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”

The Dangers of Prioritizing Tools Over Training

Hand-tools

Recently, I read an article about how United Airlines plan to improve its connection to passengers through technology… primarily mobile.

United has been my go-to airline for the past 13 years. The vast majority of my work has been here in the states, so to achieve Gold status—living in the middle of the country, no less—is no easy feat. I’ve had A LOT of experience with gate agents, customer service reps, & flight attendants. Some were good, most weren’t.

Technology isn’t going to help in the way they’re hoping. People are. 

People who act like they care. That my problem matters to them & they’re willing to do whatever is within their power to help.

Technology (at best) is just an extension of the customer experience. Not the foundation of it.

Instead of investing in tech, invest in service training. Or better yet, in hiring & recruiting strategies that attract people who actually do care in the first place.

Whether in the marketplace or in ministry, the very people we’re hoping to serve get shortchanged when we elevate tools over training. Every. Time.

How We Started Working with Churches, Chicago’s Best Hot Dog, & Ministry Wisdom

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 8.42.37 PM

What do these three things have in common? They’re all questions I was asked as part of a backstories with speakers series, hosted by the new online conference Foundations. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here

Speaking of Foundations, I may or may not have recorded this complete talk no less than 9 times. (Say this with me slowly… Nine. Times.)

We won’t get into how many partial recordings, editing hours, or times it was fully submitted as “done” before it was “re-done” were involved, lest my sanity be questioned. (Somewhere along the way, I may have crossed the line from just wanting to do a good job to, um… something else entirely.)

Needless to say, I’m finally feeling good about it & can’t wait to hear what you guys think.

If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time. Best part is you don’t even need to leave your desk—Just save July 22nd. Also, rumor has it additional speakers have been added. These are folks I respect immensely & are too many to mention. (Check out the speaker section on the website & prepare to have your mind blown)

 

The Keys to Communicating Change

“I just don’t get it,” he sighed. “I feel like I’ve been repeating the same thing for months until I’m blue in the face. Why aren’t people getting on board with the new vision?”

Many of the leaders I work with are in the midst of leading through change. Some big, some small, but all with their own unique challenges. 
I’ve found there are three common denominators why people tend to resist change and what we can do about it. 

I wrote a post for Catalyst that talks more about this that published today & I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

I4J Interview with Phil Cooke and Justin Blaney

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.50.05 PM

Does media matter? How can churches reach people without a big marketing budget? Isn’t “marketing” kind of a dirty word in a ministry context anyway?

Phil Cooke and I were interviewed by Justin Blaney at Innovate for Jesus this morning and these were just a few of the topics we covered. Lots of great stuff shared for ministry leaders big and small (And if you look closely, about three quarters of the way through, you might see my Great Dane slipping by in the background… Kind of a Where’s Waldo sorta thing)

Here’s a few highlights that were tweeted:

“We have the greatest story ever told. But if our audience doesn’t speak “Christianese” we need to adapt to their context”

“When every ministry has its own logo and brand identity, you’re setting them up to compete with each other”

“The people that really break through are the ones that focus. We were made to focus”

“If we don’t define what is important, by default, nothing is”

“The average TV is on for eight hours a day. The average preacher preaches for an hour a week. Who’s winning the battle?”

“The most creative ministries are often the ones that didn’t have money to throw at the problem”

What are some of communication principles you’ve found to work?

Foundations Conference

e-mail-header-group1

I am really excited to take part in a new conference that’s happening July 22nd. It’s entirely online (so no need to travel) and there are some pretty amazing friends joining me…

  • Tim Schraeder (social media ninja, helped raise a boatload of cash for Hillsong United)
  • Scott McClellan (communications pastor @ Irving Bible Church, prior grand poohbah of COLLIDE Magazine)
  • Jon Ferguson (lead teaching pastor at Community Christian Church & all-around scary smart guy)
  • Carlos Whittaker (brilliant musician, amazing at generating viral word-of-mouth, including this adorable video with over 7 million views)
  • Brady Shearer (founder of Pro Church Tools & host of a great podcast I was privileged to be part of)
  • Blaine Hogan (creative director @ Willow Creek & founder of a great coaching community Make Better)
  • Vince Marotte (church communications specialist & prior fantastic backstage broadcast host of Cultivate << he actually arrived on a bicycle)
  • Dave Shrein (wicked smart, author of The Communicators List & prior discussion leader of Cultivate)

Best part is until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT pricing has been rolled back to early bird rates of $89

Just use the promo code: Party (case sensitive)

It’s honestly one of the best ways to invest $89 and a few hours of your time. I can vouch for these guys. They’re legit. You’ll learn a ton. Totally worth it.

Hope to see you there!