It can be disheartening to look out into your church congregation week after week and notice fewer and fewer people smiling back at you. Though church success is not a numbers game, you can’t help but think to yourself, “Have I done something wrong?”
After all, you got into the ministry to help people and introduce them to a new way of living. But as much as we don’t like to talk about it, running an effective ministry also comes with paying electricity bills, managing money, and figuring out how to sustain and grow—without feeling like you need to pressure your congregation to give, which can be an uncomfortable topic.
Dwindling church numbers aren’t an indication that you’ve failed at your call. It may just mean that you need a small adjustment to help increase engagement and better connect with the people in your community. You have a lot on your plate, and we understand the inner conflict of trying to keep everything afloat while doing your best to stay accountable to the one you serve.
So, we wanted to help by introducing you to a concept called church branding.
Do you often wonder why it seems as though there’s a brick wall between you and the people you are trying to reach?
Creating an authentic church brand helps people connect with the heart of who you are and your desire to change lives.
You may be thinking, “The church isn’t a corporation, so why should we be branding?”
This is a valid question.
You may have heard of branding before in the business sphere. Companies use branding to get more customers and outperform their competition.
But this isn’t what church branding is about. You’re not trying to steal congregation members from another church and grow your numbers to show yourself superior. Every church is trying to spread a message, and we are all in this together.
Your church brand has everything to do with how your community perceives you. Your brand defines your mission, your beliefs, whom you are called to reach—even the choices you make. It’s what you stand for and it defines how you wish to be represented to others.
When Is It the Right Time to Think About Church Branding?
A church brand isn’t something you start one day when you are ready. The truth is that you already have a brand whether you realize it or not, and it lives in how your community perceives your mission and purpose. Further refining and developing this brand is what can help you define how you want to be perceived, which in turn helps people feel more connected to your cause, more willing to give, and better able to share it with others.
Still, when you bring the church leaders together and discuss something such as branding, it can feel…well, a bit unsettling. And we understand that.
Let’s dig into this a little more…
What Is the Purpose of Church Branding?
The purpose of church branding is to make sure that what your community perceives is in line with your heart and what you believe you have been called to do in your community and the sphere in which you influence.
Beyond your church name, logo, and color scheme, branding defines your identity as a body of believers and helps others see your church the way you want them to see it. This helps you establish a deeper connection with your congregation members, which can increase member retention and help you expand your reach so you can impact more people. Also, your community will be able to more clearly define your church mission and identity when sharing your house with others.
Your brand also solidifies your mission to your leadership and congregation and provides a reference point when making new decisions. When faced with difficult decisions, your brand is a constant to revisit as it reinforces why you do what you do and what your ultimate purpose is for existing in your community.
Branding will also help you connect with a younger audience. The millennial generation and younger are accustomed to connecting to a cause before they feel aligned with it. Your brand can ensure your mission and values are clear and visible to anyone who may be wanting to visit or join your church.
Nonprofits Use Branding to Increase Support and Further Their Cause
Think about it this way… Nonprofits also use branding to further their cause and raise more money to do good work.
When people support nonprofits, they want to know what kind of organization they are supporting and what they stand for. Their brand gives supporters a way to recognize what it is they are aligning with so they feel comfortable that it resonates with their core beliefs.
Nonprofits aren’t trying to take supporters away from other nonprofits; they are just trying to further their cause and contribute to the greater good in the world. And branding helps them do that by letting their supporters know what they stand for, which is easily made clear to the people who want to align with this mission.
How Do You Brand Your Church with the Goal of Advancing Your Message?
The first question to ask yourself is “Whom do you want to help?”
The next question to answer is “What is your mission?”
Or, “What is your vision for the next 5-10 years?”
It’s understood that your mission is to share your message of faith, but how will you do that and what exactly does that look like?
Building your church brand starts with a discovery process, getting answers to key questions such as the ones above.
Once you are clear on whom you want to help and how you will help them, the next step is to clearly define this in documentation so you remain consistent and can share your brand easily. This process may require several meetings and some lengthy discussions. As you’re taking this journey, here are some steps to think about:
The first step in getting clear on your church brand is to take a look at your current brand, even if you never knew it existed. Here are some questions to answer:
- What is your church known for in your community?
- Why do people feel drawn to you?
- What is the story you want to tell people?
- What are the values you hold dear?
And even more specifically…
- When someone visits your website, is your mission clear?
- Does your About page and social media profiles speak to your desire to connect with people and show them the love you so desperately want to share with them?
You may also want to survey your congregation members or a small subset of people closely connected with your church to get a better idea of how your members think of you.
Once you get clear on your current brand and how you want to be perceived, create a branding guide that details your research, findings, and core topics you discussed. This church branding guide can be a living document that lists your brand’s mission, attributes, and characteristics. As mentioned before, this documentation will help you remain consistent.
Once you’ve gathered your research and created your documentation, distill your brand virtues in everything you do—from your online community to even verbal communication.
Won’t Branding My Church Cripple Unique Expression in Our Congregation?
Creating a church brand doesn’t mean that your church won’t change over time. As you know, we are all growing, and this brings transitions, new seasons, and different outlooks. In addition, as you add new people to your congregation, their stories get interwoven with yours and this may alter your practices over time as well.
It’s a common concern that branding keeps churches chained to a set of guidelines and protocols. But nothing could be further from the truth. Your mission and vision statements are concrete and likely will not change. But that doesn’t mean the way in which you express your brand won’t evolve with you over time. You will always welcome diversity and unique expression. Every person has been gifted with a unique creative ability, and this should flourish in your house. But your brand can remain intact.
Think of your brand as the foundation of a house. In 40-50 years, a house’s decor, cabinets, floors, and even structure may change, but the foundation will always remain intact.
What You Need to Know About Church Branding
In this article, we talked about why it’s important to have a church brand to retain membership, continue to grow, and impact the lives of your community. We also discussed how to start the church branding process by taking a look at your current brand, creating a branding guide, and executing on your discoveries.
doesn’t have to be a taboo subject. It’s simply another way to express your
mission and vision and share that with the people you serve. Your brand is a
living, breathing thing that helps people identify with what you stand for and
align with your mission. It can help you spread your message to those who may
not know you exist and build your community so you can grow and impact more
If you would like some assistance identifying your current church brand and outlining the steps to develop it, we are here to help. We understand how hard it can be to juggle church management and serve your community, so we are here as an extension of your pastoral team, ready to help where needed. Contact us here for a free consultation.