Friday, February 12, 2010

Branding Faith

Not long ago I stumbled across a Christian media guy named Phil Cooke.  He has written a couple of books, most notably Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Nonprofits Impact Culture and Others Don't (along with his most recent book: The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn't Care Less About Religious Media).  Phil speaks very persuasively about the need for churches to think about their "brand", which he defines succinctly as: "what do people think of when they think of you?"

He shares a couple of insights into branding, such as "visibility is just as important as ability" and "you can't brand a lie."  He then goes on to present the idea that branding is simply a matter of telling your story - except that you need to know your story.  His four "branding questions" are:

1.  What's the point?  (Why are you doing this?)
2.  Who exactly are you?
3.  What are your gifts and talents?
4.  What makes you different?

I think the last question is one that we often overlook.  In most densely-populated areas there are actually an incredible number of churches (my town of 28,000 has 60+ identified worshiping communities of various faiths and we're in the secular Northeast), yet very few churches spend time distinguishing themselves from one another.  I don't view distinctiveness as the enemy of unity; rather, distinctiveness is the basis of diversity.  The body of Christ is best served by communities of faith that carve out distinct niches that meet different needs.

By the way, here's a link to an example of Phil's work, a Snickers commercial that someone uploaded to YouTube.  He gave an excellent talk at the ECHO Conference in 2009, a conference for church media teams that was held in Dallas.  You can buy the DVDs of the conference here.

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