Does the Church Need a New Brand?

Evan Forester —  December 3, 2012 — 5 Comments

I recently took a Marketing position and have learned much in my first 4 months. One word that constantly gets tossed around the office is “brand.” Thanks to people like Seth Godin, the term has also gained increasing popularity around blogs and the rest of the web.

Just Some of the Social Networks SocialGrow Loves

Now, I tend to avoid and shun overused terms like “brand” as much as possible. But sometimes, a buzzword actually gets the job done, and in this case, I think it is quite necessary.

What is a Brand?

The best definition I’ve heard comes from Richard Branson, founder of Virgin. He says, “Your brand or your name is simply your reputation, you have to fight in life to protect that as it means everything.”

It is important that we realize a brand is not what we want other people to think of us, but rather what they actually think. In other words, I may want people to think of me as handsome, muscular, and a genius. But the truth is, most think I’m lanky and goofy.

What you want people to think, however, does play a role in your brand. When most people think about Coca-Cola, for instance, they think about the following things: the color red, a cool refreshing drink, and fun times in the summer. The reason for this, of course, is that Coke has spent billions over the years demonstrating that their product is refreshing, makes you smile, and is fun to drink. It is no coincidence that most of us think what we think when we hear about Coke: they’ve been fighting for us to do so for decades.

Coca Cola

While talking about the church’s brand can seem a bit too secular, I believe it is essential. The brand of the church is far more than a logo, it is what people think about when they think about the church. It is our reputation to the world!

What is the church’s current brand?

Unfortunately, many people today do not think highly of the church. A few years ago, USA Today published a story that shared the results of a survey of young people (16-29 years old). When asked to describe Christians, the top 3 results were “anit-gay,” “judgmental,” and “hypocritical.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is our brand. It desperately needs a change.

While there will always be people who criticize the church, we need to work and invest, like Coke, to make sure we represent Christ better to the world. Granted, the news will always love to highlight the crazy “christians” who threaten to burn Qur’ans and protest funerals for soldiers.

They give Christians a rather unflattering image, and unfortunately, we cannot do very little to stop them. Occasionally, Christians make it on the news or go viral in a positive way, but these stories are largely outnumbered by the sensational stories of anger and hypocrisy.

The problem of our brand, however, is not limited to the book burners and hateful street preachers. I myself am guilty of judging others and being hypocritical. I used to get on internet discussion boards and treat everyone who didn’t think like me as an idiot. I have since been humbled (severely and repeatedly), and approach things now far differently. But I have not always represented Christ well.

While there may be no way to measure, each of our individual actions can cause far more damage than sensational news stories.

But that, however, is also our greatest hope for changing the church’s brand.

Will You Join Us in Changing Things?

Although the News highlights controversial stories, the personal relationships you have with people make the largest impact. It really does not matter if your neighbor Dave hears about judgmental and hypocritical Christians on youtube. If he knows you well and believes you are gracious and honest, than that will be the way he perceives Christians.

And if all Christians work together, we can reach a lot of people. 

But what will our brand be? What image should the church be demonstrating to the world? What reputation should we fight to build?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing different qualities the church needs to demonstrate if we hope to repair our reputation to the world. Make sure you subscribe to hear each of them.

This discussion is essential, and it can’t be one way. I want to hear your ideas, because we can only make a difference if we work together. I hope you will share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below, and I believe we can make a difference in changing the way the church is perceived by the world.

Do you think the church needs a new brand?

As we post new articles, I’ll add their links below:

ReBranding the Church: Unity

ReBranding the Church: Thirst for Knowledge

ReBranding the Church: Humility


Evan Forester

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This post was by Evan, an adventure enthusiast learning to #LiveFully in New Zealand. He now writes for Embracing Exile.