Saturday, March 26, 2005

Branding a Church?

I just sent the following out to some of the leaders at Cedarbrook. I thought you might be interested. I offered my thoughts on five points on "branding" printed in Fast Company magazine - a business mag. Branding has to do with creating a corporate identity that connects with your customer base. I thought it had some application to Cedarbrook Church too.

Andy Spade on Branding
The visionary designer offers lessons from the world of fashion on how to brand your products -- and how to sell your brands.

1. The bigger you get, the smaller you should act.
Never, ever start thinking like a big company. Otherwise you become corporate, and there's no interest in that.

(To me, this means I need to see more people one on one, not less. I can't remove myself from the daily lives of our people. One of the things that has fanned our flames in the early days is the fresh stories of life-change and the passion of volunteers. When we reduce everything to a policy or a doctrine we've become corporate and lost what attracted people in the first place.)

2. Never believe anything you've done is successful.
Challenge it every second, every day.

(We are able to pull off events like we just did at the Mabel Tainter Theater because we have been willing to scrutinize every ministry for what works and doesn't work. We haven't been afraid to ask, "How can we do this even better?" Every time we do that we create the potential to reach more people more effectively.)

3. Brand consistency is overrated.
The brand doesn't have to look the same, but it has to feel the same. An element of newness and surprise is important for any brand.

(This is where core values come in. We want to offer new things in different ways. Someone stopped on the way out of the service last Sunday and said, "I've learned that I can never assume what's going to happen here on Sundays" -That was a good thing to her! But even though things are new, they still need to come from a common place, a core system of beliefs with the same message being offered-just in a different package. )

4. Brands should have some mystery.
Customers should never understand the whole picture of a brand.

(If we reduce God down to something too manageable and understandable, then we aren't being true to God. I personally am offended by simplistic - sound bite - faith. We have to maintain a mystery about God and church life.)

5. Your people are your product.
They are the vehicle through which everything happens, and they define what you put out.

(From the very beginning, others have been the driving force behind CB. As we grow, my biggest fear is that WE will become the driving force....what is best for us. Not just the insiders, but the leaders. We have to fight this tendency with everything we've got. The unchurched person who doesn't know Christ and the marginally churched person in our seats...THEY are why we do what we do. THEY are the ones we need to be in touch with and design our services and programs for...not us.)

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