Does your ministry stand out from the crowd? What is your unique mission and purpose? What is it you do that makes a special contribution to the world? The answer to these questions is your branding.
Branding is a vital part of a successful ministry. It represents who you are—not just to your congregation or clients, but to the entire community—and is actually one of the best tools we can use for getting repeat business. Through consistency, integrity and repetition of color palette and imagery, branding helps people connect emotion with experience. To use an example in the world, it’s what separates an everyday shoemaker from Nike. Even though they might both have comparable products, the value of Nike wins because of how they’ve seared, or branded, perceived value through advertising and representation of their brand on virtually every athletic star out there. They’ve also spent countless dollars to get to that point. Assuming you don’t have millions to spend, here are four easy ways you can build your brand on a budget and ensure you create value in your community:
1. Logo. This is the first thing people think of when the word “brand” is mentioned. It’s the anchor, so, it’s important to evaluate what your logo says about your ministry. Is it old and tired? Then your ministry will be judged in that way. Are your colors dated? Then you might be perceived as “not with it.” Are your fonts current?…You see where this is going. Create a logo that communicates who you are, and that you are relevant to your community. Protect it, too, by ensuring it’s used correctly. The best way to do this is through a brand standards guideline booklet, to ensure all your staff and external partnerships are utilizing it consistently and correctly. A brand standards guide will point out the correct color mixes, fonts, ways to use/ways not to use, as well as acceptable imagery for your advertising and communication pieces.
2. Color palette. We touched on this with the logo, but it extends into your foyer or sanctuary (if you’re a church) as well. Are your colors welcoming, or cold and sterile? Ensure that from the moment you walk through the doors, a balanced palette of warm tones create a feeling of fellowship and friendliness. The warm tones can be contrasted with splashes of current, trendy colors.
3. Experience. Put yourself into the shoes of the first-time visitor to your ministry. Little things matter here: How are they greeted? Is there plenty of coffee or water to offer? If you’re a church, do the greeters appear genuine, or uninterested? Is worship inviting, helping them feel included as you approach God’s throne together? Do you collect visitor information so you can follow up without any obligations, to let them know they were noticed, appreciated and welcomed back? Do you take time to hear about their day and relate with your own experiences? This shows they are a name and not a number.
4. Staff. This is what can really set you apart. From how you answer the phone to face-to-face interactions to protocol on answering email—all of these communicate to the client or visitor their importance. Be genuine and take time to understand their needs. Respond with solutions and a smile. It’s tough to find businesses that truly are friendly or are interested in the people. As a ministry, this is at the heart of who you are; it just needs to be communicated and solidified to your staff through training, and even a manual of expectations and best practices.
Perhaps you’ve gathered from this that brand extends beyond just the logo. It’s the entire experience. It’s how people perceive your ministry. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (NIV) Branding is simply conveying your mission into a tangible representation through visual media and experiences, with cohesiveness and integrity. Protect it, maintain it and watch people continue to come back through your doors.