Should churches stick to the “brand” of their denomination?

A photo of a United Methodist Church with the United Methodist cross logo prominently displayed
Barrackville United Methodist Church. Photo by Esther Damiani. Creative Commons BY SA license.

 

The United Methodist Church (of which I’m a member of), has a very distinctive logo that is easily recognized as that of the church; it’s a cross with two flames intersecting it. The logo and brand is pretty well-known, and yet, a large number of churches opt not to use the logo as their own.  This is a huge mistake.

 

Why it’s a mistake to not use the denomination’s brand

When making a large decision, such as where to attend church, there is a tremendous amount of research involved. One of the ways to shortcut this is using brand knowledge. Think back to your last car purchase; there were probably brands you considered or didn’t consider based on your brand knowledge. This shortcut allowed you to make a decision in less time and with less research.

 

There are a wide variety of churches available now and it takes a tremendous amount of work by the individual to be able to sort through what each church stands for, believes, etc. When individuals see the United Methodist logo on a church, they have a general idea of what it means to be a United Methodist and thus can make a quick decision as to whether or not to consider the church. Without knowing it’s a United Methodist Church, the individual may not consider the church because it requires too much effort on their part to research.

 

Similarly, the logo signifies a level of trust. The United Methodist church is a well-established denomination with safeguards against radical elements.  Just as you know every Panera adheres to basically the same food standards, every church within a denomination will have similar controls and consistency in terms of leadership, worship, beliefs, etc.

 

Yes, many United Methodist churches still have “United Methodist” in the name, but how trusting would you be if you saw a sign with “McDonalds” on it with some logo other than the golden arches? Would you be skeptical? I argue not using the logo brings in some skepticism.

 

What’s lacking from the non-denomination logos

Think of the majority of church logos that you’ve seen that aren’t related to a particular denomination; a good number of them use images of their building as their logo.  I argue that this actually tells you LESS about the church than the denomination symbol.  A building tells you nothing about the church’s beliefs, the people that attend there, etc.

 

For those you that were raised singing “We Are the Church,” sing with me now…”The church is not a building….”

 

Similarly, a contemporary cross doesn’t tell you anything, other than it’s a Christian church.

 

Why aren’t the churches using the denomination logos?

Here’s my stretch challenge on this topic: Why aren’t the churches using the denomination logos and marketing?

 

I think there are two answers to this:

  1. Lots of people like to dabble in marketing for fun.
  2. The local church representatives don’t believe the church brand is strong enough, conveys what it needs to.

 

The first one we can do very little about. Marketing is fun, that’s why so many of us like to do it for a living! Unfortunately, it requires a lot more thought than most people realize.

 

If the answer is the second one, that the brand isn’t seen as strong or representative, then we’ve got a tremendous amount of work to do to remedy that.

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