Before learning how to build a strong brand identity for your church it’s vital that you understand what you’re trying to build. What is a brand identity? According to Marty Neumeier (The Designful Company, 2008) the brand identity of your church is the expression of its vision and the key elements are:

  • Voice
  • Visual presentation
  • Character
  • Personality

It’s important at this point to make clear the difference between character and personality. Your character is what is at your core and your personality is how you present yourself to the rest of the world. The above four elements are what constitute the vision of your church but what are the winning tips needed to build a strong brand identity?

1. Get to know your audiences

There will be many different groups in your area and you need to find out what each group needs. Your church can start to weave a strong brand identity by connecting with as many different people as possible, even creating some if any groups are currently under-represented. Once you’ve got to know the needs of each group one of your next steps will be to bring these groups together to promote mutual understanding and build one strong church community with its one identity.

2. Learn how you can help your growing church community

Once your church has started to understand your people’s needs your brand identity will be further enhanced by working out what practical steps you can take to satisfy those needs. In everyday terms, what are their problems and what can your church do to help? It’s also an opportunity for the church to act as a facilitator and encourage different groups to help each other.

3. Get to know your competitors

A strong brand identity must be competitive in its market. The marketplace that your church operates in contains many areas of interest for your audience. The entertainment industry, sports and leisure activities, and any number of social gatherings. How do any of these competing offerings appeal to those you want to attract to your brand? Find out what makes your competitors successful and you may be able to use this information to adapt to how you present your message.

4. Identify your Unique Selling Point

What is it about your church that sets you apart from your competitors? What’s the USP that gives you a strong brand identity? Once you know what this is then you can use it to differentiate your offering not just initially but constantly by always adding value to what your church can provide.

5. Tell the story of your brand

This is one of the strengths of your church’s brand identity. Your audience is more likely to buy into your brand if they believe in the authenticity of your story. There are of course two narrative strands to your story, one being the story of the Bible and the other being the story of your church and the people who make it what it is.

6. Create strong visuals for your brand

An important aspect of any strong brand identity is the way it looks. This isn’t just a logo it’s also the name of the church, and the typeface and color scheme used in all communications. What needs to be remembered is that the best designs have an element of timelessness. Classic designs have at their heart an essence that doesn’t really change. From the Good Year to Google the latest versions of the best logos are iterations rather than complete redesigns. The colors and style you use also have a psychological connection to your core message. For example, red is seen as a strong, warm color often used for messages of love. Green is the color of harmony and balance and for many, violet is said by some to be the color of spirituality and meditation. There are many typeface (or font) options but whichever one the church uses must be consistent and in line with most modern businesses. Clean san serif fonts help you to focus more on the message than the letters and sentence case is a must.

7. Involve your audience in the creation of your identity

A/B (or split testing) or any variant based on this is an excellent way to get the visuals right for your strong brand identity. Produce a few brand examples and test them on carefully sampled members of your church community groups. As it will need to have broad appeal select the test group accordingly and work with them to create some dos and don’ts. The identity shouldn’t be something that everyone likes because it might become bland instead of a brand. The testing process is more about editing out those versions that clearly wouldn’t work.

8. Test your brand perception regularly

At the heart of any strong church brand identity lies the core message. This message needs to be decided upon, communicated, and tested for effectiveness on a regular basis. In these rapidly changing times, the core message may need to be subtly amended as needed. The feedback from your audience will help you to keep your brand identity authentic and relevant and make it clear to them that you understand them and their needs.