Friday, November 14, 2008

When Rebranding is only Skin Deep

Mike O'Connor pointed me to the excellent new Beyond Relevance blog, which is well worth a look. Here's a snatch from a recent article:

re-Branding on Momentum

It seems like churches these days have seen the power of marketing and branding just enough to jump onto the band wagon. Churches everywhere are sliding onto the re-branding table and looking for a quick-fix for their "growing" concerns. A few recent conversations have illustrated the often missing link in a church's preparedness to go under the knife for a branding make-over.

Now, before I get into this, please note that true "branding" goes much deeper than skin deep. True branding is a plum-line from the core of who you are to the people God has called you to reach. It is a promise you deliver on in all that you do and is seen on the surface as your communication, design, image or brand. With that said... 

I was teaching a session on branding last week at the 
National Youth Workers Convention. I normally speak to senior pastors, so I jumped at the chance to hang out with youth leaders for a few days. It was a blast. I was challenging on the need for churches to become successful without a branding effort and that the best brands are those that learn how to connect to people and grow organically first—and then build their brand around that. A youth leader visited me afterwards almost in tears. He had recently taken a position at a new church and, as what he (and much of the church world) thought was norm, decided to launch a new youth group brand. He built that brand around a new look, new logo, new name, new everything. He developed the image of this great brand before he had built trust in his youth and momentum through his ability to connect with them and see growth. He then attempted to launch the brand with a huge event and watched it all to fall flat. The results were a disappointment for him and now his youth group is struggling and shell-shocked. He was heartbroken.

What this represents is surface re-branding. It is an epidemic. It is the concept that if we are not attracting people, it is because we do not have the right name or image, and therefore, we need to change it and re-design our look. With all the love I can muster, if you are not growing what you have, it is not because of your logo. If you are not connecting with people that come through your doors in a way that causes them to come back and bring others, no amount of design can create a long term fix. If you do have momentum however, the right brand can be a catalyst to new levels of growth.

This stuff is not taught in schools. In February, I sat down with a doctoral student at Dallas Theological Seminary who interviewed me regarding his doctoral thesis on church brand development. His brilliantly written thesis had a fatal flaw—it omitted that re-branding should only take place after momentum has been generated. To simply re-brand a church when it has not found its traction is generally just an indication to your community that you’ve tried everything else without success and in your last attempt, you’re changing your style and/or name in order to reinvent yourself. Branding done right is not a "fix". It is a swagger. It is a well-communicated sense of self built on successfully connecting with others. 

Here’s the deal: if you aren’t currently connecting with people right where they’re at, no amount of branding/design can solve your problem. Re-branding without momentum is kind of like dressing up for your prom and forgetting to court a date. Think about it.
Design cannot obtain what a disconnected ministry cannot reach.

© Richard L. Reising

Published on Friday, November 7, 2008 @ 12:00 AM CST

Thursday, November 06, 2008

CREATE Conference Coming Soon

Our friends at FEVA are running their Create Conference on November 15th. That's soon! Rock on over to their website to register. Group discounts are available.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall...

Lifehacker reported recently that free web photo utility offers a cool online tool for creating Mac-like reflections. "Find an image with a clean background,  choose where you want the reflection, and tell the app if you want a scaled effect to look like light bending. You can also choose to have the reflection be transparent, but there's no sliding scaler for that effect, unfortunately. Upload the image and you'll get the result decently fast. There's not a lot of options, obviously, but for pulling off that clean, Apple-promo-esque look, it's a helpful tool for those not quite handy with an editor. is free to use, doesn't require a sign-up." I've tried it, and it performs exactly as promised. Shame though that anyone with Powerpoint07 these days can do the same...