Many Christians when asked, “What is your church’s brand?” would take offense at the thought of “branding” or marketing their church. But, whether we want to admit it or not, your church has a brand. Hang in there with me for a minute and see if you agree…
If you define a brand as the sum of the experiences, expectations, and personality associated with a company, person, or service, your church does have a brand. The bottom line is that your brand is really about who you are. What is unique about your congregation? What ministries are you, as a church, involved in? What is your mission, as a church, and how are you working to achieve it? This is your brand.
If you fail to communicate who you are (your brand) to the public in an effective way, you are losing the power that your brand can bring you. In years past, a denominational association was enough to tell people what “kind” of church you were. Today, denominational “brands” have lost much of their significance because there is such a wide variety of church “personalities” and even beliefs within a given denomination.
Whether you agree with them or not, some of the large “community” churches have done a very good job of creating an identity and communicating that identity to the world. One of the ways that their brand identity is often reinforced is through the design of their facilities. Now, I will be the first to say that a church is not the building, but the buildings do communicate something about the particular church.
This aspect of branding has proven to be problematic for some older churches that have transformed themselves over time, but still function in buildings that were designed to accommodate a different kind of worship or education. They find themselves adapting their programs to their buildings; buildings that do not reinforce their brand identity. In some cases, adapting church buildings is an option, but more often than not, the buildings, to some degree, constrain the church’s identity.
It is very difficult to know what a particular church is going to “look like” in twenty or thirty years, therefore, designing buildings that are flexible and adaptable is crucial to facilitating the growth of the church. In many churches, Sunday school programs look very different today than they did twenty-five years ago, and as a result, the use of some older buildings has become inefficient and cumbersome.
If you are in the process of planning new facilities, ask yourself these questions: “Do our facilities reflect who we are as a church?”, “How adaptable are our buildings going to be if we change the way we are doing things?” and “How expensive is it going to be to make the buildings adapt to change?” As they say, change is one thing you can count on. Are you planning for it?
For additional thoughts on how your space reflects your brand, check out Chad McMillan’s post on Business Black Box at http://www.insideblackbox.com/?p=797