When I wrote my book “Branding Faith” in 2008, the word “branding” had hardly been uttered inside a church or other Christian organization. In fact, the amount of criticism I endured just trying to start the conversation was enormous. People just didn’t want to believe the power of perception or identity and the role it played in getting people to listen to your message, buy your product, or donate to your cause. But since that time, things have changed, and not always in a good way. Today, “Branding Agencies” that specialize in churches and ministries have sprung up across the country and don’t seem to be slowing down. Nearly everyone I talk to these days is either a “branding expert” or a “social media expert.” (And I say that with only a tiny smirk.)
The bottom line is that for a few, to justify high fees and make themselves look serious, many have jumped through amazing hoops and created lengthy processes to “discover” your brand. As a result, church leaders end up with a huge bill and massive report that they don’t even understand. One major, national ministry called me recently to tell me they spent $150,000 on a branding study, which resulted in a 1,200 page document, and they had absolutely no clue what to do with it.
It’s tragic actually (this is donor money), and sometimes seems like a few are turning the concept of branding in a religion itself. But the truth is, the key to an effective brand is to define the perception you have in the marketplace. It’s understanding the promise you’re making to your community, your customers, or your donors. It’s trying to positively influence the story that surrounds every person, organization, or product.
I still believe in the power of branding.
Is there a process? Yes.
Is there an investment? Yes.
Does it matter? Yes.
In fact, in 2012 I updated and re-wrote “Branding Faith” into “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.” I needed to include social media, which hadn’t been invented when I wrote the original, as well as update the book with changes happening in the media and culture.
Branding is the key to break through the media clutter, and allows you to connect with your audience and supporters.
The point? Learn to tell your story more effectively. It’s the key to breaking through the media clutter that surrounds us, and allows you to connect with your audience and your supporters.
While there are plenty of reputable branding agencies out there that I’m proud to associate with, there’s plenty of others who have a lot of show, but no go. Get recommendations from other churches and ministries. Do your homework. Make sure whoever you pick is a right fit for your team and your vision.
Because the only thing worse than not telling your story at all, is telling badly.