Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
Today’s post is closely related to the topic we considered yesterday.
There is obviously a big debate about whether marketing belongs in the Church. But from my perspective, what underpins much of the debate is a lack of unity on the understanding of the terms being used. Different people define marketing in different ways and if you define it one way, it can be a great evil and if you define it another, it is a necessity for the Church to pursue. Another such phrase and debate is over the understanding of the term “brand”.
What I’m not going to argue is that the definition of branding that I’m about to put forward is the categorical reference point on the word. What I can say is that when we use the word “brand” around here, this is what we mean:
A brand is a complete picture and impression of your organization. It is the sum of your product/service, your mission, your people, your building, your clothes, your website, etc... In other words every aspect of what you do and how you do it contributes to your brand – the impression you leave with any given audience.
It is not solely a logo, although your logo is a visual/mental “hook” on which people will hang their impressions of your organization. It is not the sum of all your advertising pieces (brochures, website, billboards, ads), although they do contribute. It is not something that we simply paste overtop of our organization like a facade (see image in this post for a visual reference) to make us more attractive. And in the context of marketing the Church, it is not the editing and altering of the Gospel to make it a more appealing product.
The scary part of your brand though is that an organization is never in complete control of it. It is held in the minds and hearts of your audiences and all we can do is strive to launch and then manage the brand as best we can.
To my mind, this is entirely applicable to the life of a Christian. We strive to be Christ-like in our thoughts and actions and thereby glorify God and be an example to the world. But we need to comprehend that our Christian brand is affected by not only our words, but our actions, our clothes, our church buildings, our music, the books we read.
Inconsistencies in what we say and what we do are excellent examples of damaging a brand and in turn our witness. This is an age-old and Biblically supported concept.