Think about the importance of the impression your church is making. What kind of image are people in your community crafting of who you are? What’s your reputation or vibe? All of these emotions are what go into your brand. It’s not a logo or slick brochure alone. Instead it’s the impression people have about your organization.
I recently read an article from Forbes talking about the importance of brand in keeping people engaged with an organization. And as I sifted through the business-based article, I couldn’t help but insert the church into the general philosophy being presented. If I were to take the basics and tweak them for churches, here’s how I think the advice plays out.
First impressions are everything.
Foundational thoughts stick with someone for a long time. A bad experience taints any future good. Conversely, a good first impression gives you more leeway in the future if something goes wrong. As a church, that’s why it’s so important to orchestrate the experience a first time visitor has in your church. From greeters; to in-service welcomes and explanations of what your church believes, the experience has to be genuine to who you are. And beyond your church walls, whenever your church is serving make sure volunteers realize every action they take is forming an impression with the people they’re serving. Negative attitudes or stubborn opinions reflect your church negatively and that’s the message that will spread about your congregation.
Being active in making your community better is key.
People want to see that your church is working for social good. The great news is that’s at the core of the gospel. A congregation perceived as a place for members only who don’t do much outside of their property lines will have little chance of building a brand the community embraces.
Be true to your word.
Do what you say you will. As the author of the Forbes article wrote, “If you make a promise and it’s not kept, then the initial promise you made was a lie.” If you say you’re a church who welcomes everyone, then you have to create a culture that supports that. If you preach that you’re about helping the poor, then you have to establish programs to do it. If you promise your congregation that signing up for the weekly email is the main way to stay informed, then that email needs to be delivered every week with great quality. Everything you do says something about who you are. Your brand is stronger when your actions match your words.
Supporting people’s ongoing needs are at your core.
Once someone is a part of your church community, whether in the congregation or through community service, that’s not the end of the process. Thinking about ongoing need not only commits you to service goals, it shows you truly care. When someone sees your sincere heart, they can’t help but share the news of it with others, which grows your influence.
All of this builds trust and credibility, which matters.
As you commit to all of the items already mentioned in this post, you’re earning points with people. When you’re consistent in who you are, how you act and what you believe, people begin forming the right opinions about you. That’s brand building. And the stronger your brand gets, the more credible it is. And credibility breeds trust. You become dependable to your people and to those you are serving. If you can’t earn the trust of others, your church will never reach its full potential.