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Photo by Michal Jarmoluk, courtesy Pixabay. Edited from original.

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk, courtesy Pixabay

How to clarify your church’s brand

By Brett McArdle

During a conversation with a friend, you’re asked, “So, what’s your church like?”

And you find yourself searching for an answer. Not because you can’t think of a response — but rather that it’s hard to sum up easily.

Perhaps it’s a question of brand.

Could your congregation describe what your church is known for? Could your staff? The truth is, your church’s brand is what your members, attenders and the community say it is. Put another way, it’s the emotional connection people feel when they encounter your church.

Some elements of that are beyond your control. For others, you’re at the wheel. That especially extends to the creative and visual identity that supports your church. So let’s discuss a few key areas where you can craft a welcoming brand.

  • Why your logo matters: Every time you see the logo for Nike, Starbucks, Coca-Cola or any other brand you like, you’re reminded of certain feelings and expectations.

And that’s just for packaged goods. So imagine how much stronger the brand of a church can be for its members and the community it serves. The product of faith is a changed life.

Consistent use of your church’s logo — from signage to Sunday bulletins and more — reinforces the bond felt by your congregation and strengthens their sense of belonging to the global church.

If your church would benefit from a suite of United Methodist-branded logos, United Methodist Communications can provide that service for free.

  • Establish a look: Developing a style guide — even as simple as one page — can help your church achieve a distinctive look. The colors that give your church its unique identity and the fonts used in your text create an environment that ties everything together.

More to the point, this is expressed through visual devices such as signage, stationery, wearables, Sunday bulletin, email newsletter, Facebook page, etc. If this sounds daunting, rest assured you have help. Our online branding toolkit can provide guidance and resources for many of these needs. You can also email brand@umcom.org with questions at any time.

  • Print is powerful: Even the most digital-savvy professionals carry printed business cards, and any company worth its trademark has a supply of letterhead, envelopes and more. Print has permanence and value. The same holds true for churches. Your logo and branding elements should grace your printed materials just as they do with your other visuals.

With that in mind, United Methodist Communications offers downloadable templates for printed materials and correspondence.

The goal of these branding efforts is to help your church stand out in its community while also giving members and attenders a shared experience that supports spiritual development.

To put it all together:

  • The brand is the emotional image of your church, and it’s defined by everyone who encounters it.
  • The identity is the total of the visuals that describe the church and its brand.
  • The logo is the symbol that identifies your church in the community.

Giving thought to these three elements will keep your members and attenders on the same page and educate the community about the vision of your church. If your church wants to learn more about United Methodist branding standards, guidance is available online.

*Brett McArdle is Assistant Director of Branding and Creative Management at United Methodist Communications. For more information, you may reach him at bmcardle@umcom.org.