Few people think about marketing and branding when it comes to churches and other religious institutions, but this is a big mistake. In fact, branding and a marketing identity for religious institutions are more important now than it ever has been. Despite what detractors say, there is indeed a war against religion going on, and it is vital for every church to build a positive and attractive brand identity not just to attract and keep a congregation, but to remain solvent.
Churches all over the world are shutting their doors, and getting them re-opened means avoiding critical errors in your church branding efforts. Read about the ten most common mistakes that religious institutions make when it comes to church branding and how you can avoid them.
Church Branding – Making a Statement
First impressions are last impressions in this fast-paced digital age, and too many churches are falling behind the times in this area. Unfortunately, too many churches try to incorporate a thousand ideas into a mess of a mashup of symbols and concepts. Your church branding must make use of a logo that is memorable, eye-catching, attractive and makes an all-encompassing statement regarding your theology and beliefs. It must, however, be unified and present your core values in a single, strong statement.
This statement, of course, should also grace every mailing and communication your church sends out. The logo should be clearly visible on every single custom mailing envelope you send out, foremost on your bulletins and newsletters, and the core of your visual marketing identity.
Your Faith’s Symbol – Central
Your church’s logo has to incorporate something that tells people what faith you follow. However, the idea that this has to be a cross, star of David, etc. is a critical error. There’s no need to use a symbol that will make your logo look just like every other church, so long as it still speaks to your values. Remember that originally, Christians used fish to identify themselves, not crosses. A chalice is another great symbol for a Christian church. Many options do not include the obvious one that everyone else uses.
Not Being Yourself
Too many churches rely on their connection to some other church to make a statement and a name. Why would you want just to be a clone of someone else? Certainly your congregation has its unique values, personality and culture—make that your centerpiece! Many things go into naming your church, but it is best to be unique, present your ideas and values, but also be humble. Announcing your church as the one true way is going to be more of a turnoff than an attractor.
Making It All about the Building
Many churches make the critical error of leading everything in their marketing efforts with a picture of the building. Is that really what you are about? Look how cool our building is? No; you are about values, about morals, about community and people. Lead off with your story and an expression of your faith. Let people know who you are and why you are there, not what the structure looks like.
Making It All about the Pastor
Your pastor may be the spiritual leader of your community, but he or she is not a prophet unto themselves (unless you believe they are, in which case, that is your message). In general, you want your message to be about the entire community and not just one person, no matter who they might be. People look for a sense of belonging and family in a church, not for a single charismatic leader.
The Agony of Acronyms
Acronyms and buzzwords…awful! People are obsessed with the use of acronyms and buzz terms, and it might be because of our tendency to use these things in our Internet communications. However, when you use these things in marketing, you accomplish one or both of two things.
First of all, you look unprofessional at best and uneducated at worst. Nobody wants to see “LOL” on a marketing logo. Secondly, you use an acronym, and nobody knows what it means. It is great if you’ve got a faith-based program with a clever acronym, but using it in your core marketing will not encourage people to look into the meaning, it will encourage them to give you a pass. Remember those first impressions!
Unclear Calls to Action
It is very easy to fall prey to the use of catchphrases and obvious calls to action in your core message. In some cases, this is fine, but you have to be sure you are clear about the message you deliver. For example, if you’ve got a program specifically aimed at counseling troubled teens, don’t just say, “Stop in Tuesday and see what [Program Name] is all about!” You could get 50-year-olds popping in to check out what a program designed for 16-year-olds is about. Make sure that you add, “If you are a teen and in need of help and counseling, stop in Tuesday and check out [Program Name]. We are here to help.”
Imprecise Choice of Language
When working on your marketing strategy, be very precise in your choice of words. Don’t fall prey to the use of trendy and clever turns-of-phrase that don’t reflect your stances, values, morals and ideas. If your church is not edgy, don’t use edgy language. Your church values certain things, a certain way of living and an individual approach to family, relationships with others and to community values.
Embrace what you are, not what you aspire to be. Talk about your community. Talk about the services you provide to the community. Let people know who you are. Otherwise, you might draw in people only to lose them just as fast, and marketing is about retention as well as attraction.
When you’ve got your ideal church branding and marketing scheme together, we are ready to provide the marketing materials you need. Check out our selection of custom-printed church envelopes and get in touch for more information or to see what we can do for you today!